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Pharmacy Technician - Career Facts

Program Length

The Pharmacy Technician course is a one-semester, four-credit course that meets one evening per week. Completion of MATH 050 with at least a 2.0 grade, or attainment of math level 4 is a prerequisite. Completion of Pharmacology (CHSE 115) is recommended.  Successful completion prepares students to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board National Certification Exam.

Nature of Work

Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists provide medication and other healthcare products to patients. Technicians usually perform routine tasks to help prepare prescribed medication for patients, such as counting tablets and labeling bottles. Technicians refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist. Technicians receive written prescriptions or requests for prescription refills from patients. They also may receive prescriptions sent electronically from the doctor's office. They must verify that the information on the prescription is complete and accurate. To prepare the prescription, technicians must retrieve, count, pour, weigh, measure, and sometimes mix the medication. Then, they prepare the prescription labels, select the type of prescription container, and affix the prescription and auxiliary labels to the container. Once the prescription is filled, technicians price and file the prescription, which must be checked by a pharmacist before it is given to a patient. Technicians may establish and maintain patient profiles, prepare insurance claim forms, and stock and take inventory of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

In hospitals, technicians have added responsibilities. They read patient charts and prepare and deliver the medicine to patients. The pharmacist must check the order before it is delivered to the patient. The technician then copies the information about the prescribed medication onto the patient's profile. Technicians also may assemble a 24-hour supply of medicine for every patient. They package and label each dose separately. The package is then placed in the medicine cabinet of each patient until the supervising pharmacist checks it for accuracy. It is then given to the patient.

Employment Prospects

Employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to grow much faster then the average for all occupations-36 percent or more-through 2010 due to the increased pharmaceutical needs of a larger and older population.

Skills You Need

Successful pharmacy technicians are alert, observant, organized, dedicated, and responsible. They should be willing and able to take directions. They must enjoy precise work-details are sometimes a matter of life and death. Although a pharmacist must check and approve all their work, they should be able to work on their own without constant instruction from the pharmacist. Candidates interested in becoming pharmacy technicians cannot have a prior record of drug or substance abuse.

Strong interpersonal and communication skills are needed because there is a lot of interaction with patients, coworkers, and healthcare professionals. Teamwork is very important because technicians are often required to work with pharmacists, aides, and other technicians.

Expected Earnings

Median hourly wages of wage and salary pharmacy technicians in May 2012 were $14.63. The middle 50 percent earned between $14.10 and $17.22. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.89, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $20.38.

Median hourly wages of wage and salary pharmacy aides were $11.28 in May 2012. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.94 and $12.93. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.12, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $15.95.

Certified technicians may earn more than non-certified technicians. Some technicians and aides belong to unions representing hospital or grocery store workers.  Median hourly wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of pharmacy techs in May 2012 were:

General Medical and Surgical Hospitals $16.54
Grocery Stores $13.97
Health and Personal Care Stores $13.91
Other General Merchandise Stores $13.80
Department stores $13.34



Median hourly wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of pharmacy aides in May 2012 were:

Offices of Physicians $18.57
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals $14.75
Grocery Stores $11.14
Health and Personal Care Stores $10.64
Department stores $  9.81

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