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What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?

  • February 17, 2021
  • RPh on the Go

Pharmacy technicians are valuable members of the healthcare team, providing essential services and responsibilities to help customers.

What is a Pharmacy Technician?

A pharmacy technician’s duties may vary slightly depending on the workplace but revolve around helping the pharmacy’s operations run smoothly.

Pharmacy Technician Job Description

Pharmacy technicians work under a licensed pharmacist’s supervision, assembling and dispensing prescription and over-the-counter medications to consumers and healthcare professionals. They also relay pertinent information about medicines to customers.

The role of a pharmacy technician is crucial. Besides providing outstanding customer service, technicians fill prescriptions, check for prescription accuracy, label medications, and confidentially record customers’ medical histories. Other duties include maintaining inventories, purchasing supplies, and communicating clearly with all stakeholders.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

There are multiple paths to becoming a pharmacy technician, but the most common way is through training programs at pharmacy technician schools.

How Long is Pharmacy Technician School?

Depending on the state in which you live, becoming a pharmacy technician can involve meeting several requirements. Schools offer a reasonable pathway to landing the pharmacy technician job of your dreams in a relatively short amount of time.

  • First, candidates must obtain their high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Additionally, you will need to get either an associate degree or a certificate in pharmacy technology.
  • Depending on your choice, the program should take between nine months and two years to complete. Associate degrees take longer to get than certificates but generally lead to higher wages and more opportunities to advance your career in the future. You can achieve certification in less than a year, and these programs are usually more affordable than associate degrees. However, some employers prefer the more extensive education of candidates with associate degrees.
  • Once you have completed schooling, you can apply to receive licensure in your state, a prerequisite to being a pharmacy technician in many regions. 

There are other requirements to perform the tasks that pharmacy technicians do. Qualified technicians are expected to communicate with both customers and fellow pharmacy staff consistently. They are trained in pharmacy databases and need to fill and label prescriptions accurately.

Where do Pharmacy Technicians Work?

Pharmacy technicians can work in a wide variety of locations, ranging from pharmacies to hospitals to drug stores.

Are there any work from home pharmacy technician jobs?

While the majority of positions are in physical pharmacy settings, there is an exciting change underway. As technology increases and people approach work differently, more and more pharmacy technician jobs are done from home.

Remote pharmacy technician jobs are becoming increasingly common and entail many of the same responsibilities as in a pharmacy setting. Some duties that remote technicians perform include supporting customers via telephone or the internet, such as verifying prescriptions and checking patient records.

How to Get a Pharmacy Technician License?

In many states, a pharmacy technician license is a requirement for employment. There are several ways to obtain this license, but paths differ in various parts of the country – although registering in your state is often the first step. One common approach to licensure is to complete an approved pharmacy technician training program. Many of the training programs take two years or less, with some states allowing on-the-job training.  Another method that most states accept is passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), a nationally-recognized exam that measures technician’s skills and knowledge. A final way to get your license is by completing the PTCB certification process, which also unlocks future opportunities in your career.

Pharmacy Assistant vs. Pharmacy Technician

 Pharmacy assistants and pharmacy technicians may sound similar, but there are significant differences between the two positions. Pharmacy technicians undergo a more rigorous academic program, with schooling lasting a year on average versus six months for assistants. 

Pharmacy assistants work under pharmacists or pharmacy technicians, often performing duties such as compounding medications, stocking shelves, and providing customer service. They also fill prescriptions and maintain records for the pharmacy.

Pharmacy technicians carry out many of the same tasks as assistants but also deal with more complex responsibilities. Some of these duties include completing final accuracy checks on prescriptions and refills, and preparing medications. Their training also involves learning about pharmaceutical law and regulations.

Both careers require that you communicate well, work efficiently in a fast-paced environment, and handle multiple tasks at once. Since training is lengthier and more intensive for pharmacy technicians, wages are often significantly higher than for pharmacy assistants.

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