Pharmacy Technician

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician
Job Duties of a Pharmacy Technician
Skills and Qualities of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy Technician Salaries
Influential Professionals in Pharmacy Technician Field
Leading Pharmacy Technician Organizations
Top Cities for Pharmacy Technician Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Pharmacy Technician

As you might suspect, pharmacy technicians are something of a right hand for a licensed pharmacist. The first modern pharmacies didn't rely on pharmacy technicians, the licensed pharmacist having to do everything by himself. But later on, as the field developed more and more, the need for pharmacy technicians grew larger and larger. Since it takes hard work and dedication to become a pharmacy technician, pharmacies are having a moderately hard time in finding qualified personnel to fill the job.

Most employers require formal training and a certificate from their list of candidates. The days of on-the-job training for pharmacy technicians are long gone, and these days you'll have to work hard to be able to meet the demands of an employer. Even though a certificate is not required by law, most of the people looking for a job as a pharmacy technician will acquire one beforehand.

Certification exams are given by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. Both institutions have had a very successful history in giving these certification exams, with the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board being the pioneer and current industry leader. The Board has certified more than 300,000 pharmacy technicians since it was founded in 1995. The exam they give is called the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination, and is currently the only exam that's endorsed by the American Pharmacists Association, among others. The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians gives an exam called the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. Any of these examinations completed by a candidate means they earn the credentials "CPhT" and the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician.

As previously stated, there are no U.S. federal laws that make it mandatory for all technicians employed to also be certified, but some states still require it. Additionally, most states require that the pharmacy technicians be registered or licensed by passing a state examination given by the respective state's Board of Pharmacy, even if they're certified. Most technical colleges, community colleges or vocational colleges offer training that is key in preparing the student for real-world experience. Additionally, many pharmacies also offer trainings to new employees, as part of their getting accustomed to the work requirements and environment.

What does a Pharmacy Technician do?

A pharmacy technician works under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, and his main duties are related to a group of tasks that take place inside the pharmacy. For instance, they will be required to provide health care products and medications to patients, to prepare prescribed medication and even be responsible for the compounding of drugs. But they cannot counsel the patients in any way on the use of the medication, and the pharmacist always checks all the medications prepared by the pharmacy technician.

Pharmacy technicians can work in all sorts of locations - from hospitals to retail outlets that sell drugs to even more "extreme" environments such as the Army or the Federal Government. Let's also not forget the small percentage of pharmacy technicians that work for Internet ventures such as online pharmacies and so on.

Most of the time, a pharmacy technician will assist the pharmacist in all ways he deems necessary: from handling money and answering the phones to stocking, data-entry, drug preparation and packaging. Of course, in the case of special locations, such as hospitals or nursing homes, pharmacy technicians will have more responsibilities. As the pharmaceutical field grows more and more complex, the role of the pharmacy technician is likely to grow right along with the field in the next few years.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Pharmacy Technician?

You might be thinking of becoming a pharmacy technician because you have decided that being a medic is not something you'd like, or you just truly love chemistry and biology. Well, no matter the reasons, one thing is certain: you should have some sort of science background, as you'll be required to know huge amounts of chemistry and biology.

Other than that, you should be computer literate, as you'll no doubt be using a computer to enter the various data into a database, and you should have a steady hand and a lot of patience when it comes to mixing and dosing the right ingredients. Since you'll be dealing with people, it will also be necessary for you to have some sort of communication and people skills. You must be able to communicate efficiently and politely with people who are, in many cases, in some sort of distress or even emergency, should you work at a hospital.

It won't hurt to be certified and participate in as many trainings as possible, to make sure you gather the much needed real-life pharmacy experience.

How much do Pharmacy Technicians make?

Certified pharmacy technicians can earn salaries that are almost as good as those in other entry level positions in allied health, just like physical therapist assistants, surgical technicians and so on.

Depending on the place of employment, skills, certifications and state, pharmacy technicians will make different salaries. The most common salary for a pharmacy technician in the United States lies between $26,411 and $32,689. However, there are the extremes, as in any field. The lowest salary starts at $23,619 and the biggest will top at about $35,612.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

As you might imagine, the most influential professionals in this field are CEO's of big pharmacy chains and pharmaceutical companies. The influential professionals in this field are John A. Lederer, the CEO of the DuaneReade chain, the largest chain in New York, Dave Bernauer, CEO of Walgreen, the biggest drugstore chain in the country, and Tom Ryan, the CEO of CVS.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

In the United States, the leading pharmacy chains are CVS, Walgreen and DuaneReade. CVS has more than 6200 stores across 40 states, and was founded in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1963. Walgreen was founded in 1915, being one of the oldest drugstore chains in America. It operates 6941 stores, some of them outside the US. DuaneReade was founded in 1959, and is the biggest drugstore chain in New York, with more than 300 stores, most of them only in New York.

What are the top cities for Pharmacy Technician jobs?

Since the field is ever growing, there will be lots of new jobs available for pharmacy technicians in the next years, especially since there will be new responsibilities bestowed on them. So far, the best cities for pharmacy technicians are Memphis, Tennessee followed by Phoenix, Arizona and, in third position, Baltimore, Maryland.

Other Careers of Interest

A pharmacist distributes prescribed drugs to patients. They also educate their customers and doctors about drug interactions, dosages and the side...

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