What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?

Many jobs in healthcare require an educational commitment that’s out of reach for many, but here’s an exception. 

Pharmacy technicians, also called pharmacy techs, help dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals. They work under the supervision of a pharmacist. They receive prescriptions and confirm their accuracy. They measure out, package and label medications. 

A pharmacy tech is a key link between the customer and the pharmacist. Their understanding of drug interactions and terminology can make a difference in a customer’s understanding of a condition or treatment.

In many states, they can also compound or mix medications. Some technicians specialize in oncology or chemotherapy drugs.

Pharmacy technicians work in retail drug stores and hospitals. In hospital pharmacies, technicians are dealing primarily with other health professions, filling prescriptions or working with IV bags under sterile conditions.

If this sounds like a good fit for you, keep reading to learn more.
 

$ 30,000 - $ 50,300
$ 38,000
37,000+
A pharmacy technician checks prescriptions
When it comes to medicine, details matter. That’s why pharmacy technicians need strong math skills in addition to a good memory. (Credit: sirtravelalot/Shutterstock)

Job Responsibilities

  • Collect information needed to fill prescription requests from customers or health professionals
  • Measure medication
  • Understand the names, uses and doses of medications
  • Organize inventory and alert pharmacists to any shortages 
  • Accept payment for prescriptions and process insurance claims
  • Enter patient information into a computer system
  • Answer phone calls
  • Maintain safety by adhering to infection-control procedures and regulations

 

Becoming a Pharmacy Tech: FAQs

What steps do I need to take to get this job?

State rules regulating pharmacy technicians vary. In general, students must pass an exam or complete a training program to work. 

Employers typically require a high school diploma or equivalent. Some look for candidates who have completed an accredited program. Others provide in-depth, on-the-job training. 

Community colleges and technical schools offer pharmacy technology programs that last from nine months to two years. Courses may include drug interactions, medical abbreviations, pharmacy law, pharmacy math and ethics.

Employers who train techs in-house may cover these areas and may pay for techs to earn certification. 

To learn more, see How To Become A Pharmacy Technician

Regardless of which path you choose, certification is worthwhile. Earning certification may require passing an exam and renewing it will require earning continuing education credits.

Two organizations provide national certification, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). 

Some states require pharmacy techs to be licensed. To find out what’s required in your state, try SkillPointe’s licensing tool below or consult the National Association of Boards of Pharmacies’ list of state boards, which includes links to each state Board of Pharmacy website.

Pharmacy technician job outlook: Is this a good opportunity?

Job growth for techs is steady. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts about 31,700 openings per year between 2020 and 2030. The BLS also suggests a surprising reason for this trend: Pharmacists are increasingly being pulled away to do patient care, and pharmacy techs must fill in the gaps.

What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?

Successful pharmacy technicians tend to share these traits: 

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Excellent listening skills
  • Strong math skills
  • Organized
The bottom line:

This is a career that offers entry to the healthcare profession without a bachelor’s degree. If you like working with people and are organized, this job could be a good fit. Plus, it’s a career with plenty of opportunity to keep learning. Interested? Check out SkillPointe’s training portal, which connects you to programs near you.

What Is It Like To Be a Pharmacy Tech?

Pharmacy technician Chris Hicks in Charlottesville, Virginia

What Is It Like To Be a Pharmacy Tech?

Chris Hicks is the pharmacy director at the nonprofit Charlottesville Free Clinic in Virginia. 

He's been a pharmacy tech for 16 years  — long enough to see that no matter the type of clinic they work in, pharmacy techs can make a difference. 

"You get to play a small part in healing and treating patients," he says. 

Find out more about what it's like to do this job

Pharmacy Technician Training in Your Area

Coordinates

Pharmacy Technician, A.S.

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