What does a pharmacy technician do?
Pharmacy technicians work under the direct supervision of a pharmacist and, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, are responsible for the following:
- Collecting information needed to fill a prescription from customers or health professionals
- Measuring amounts of medication for prescriptions
- Packaging and labeling prescriptions
- Organizing inventory and alerting pharmacists to any shortages of medications or supplies
- Accepting payment for prescriptions and processing insurance claims
- Entering customer or patient information, including any prescriptions taken, into a computer system
- Answering phone calls from customers
- Arranging for customers to speak with pharmacists if customers have questions about medications or health matters
Where can I work as a pharmacy technician?
Pharmacy technicians work in both retail pharmacies and hospital pharmacies. In the retail setting, they are responsible for collecting prescriptions from patients, transcribing them correctly into the computer system, counting out the proper medication and giving it to the pharmacist to be checked. They process insurance claims for the prescriptions and trouble shoot problems when a prescription is not covered for any reason. They may also be responsible for checking a patient out and answering questions regarding over the counter medications and prescription medication when appropriate.
Working in a hospital pharmacy setting brings a different set of responsibilities. Working in a hospital pharmacy, the pharmacy technician may also be responsible for mixing up intravenous solutions for patients in the hospital. This includes performing calculations to get the correct dosing of medication and drawing that solution up to put into an IV solution bag. They may also mix feeding solutions known as enteral feedings that go through any type of tube feeding, or TPN which is total parenteral nutrition which is administered through a central venous access. A pharmacist checks these mixtures before they are given to the patient. Pharmacy technicians in the hospital may also be responsible for delivering different medications to the hospital units for the nurses to administer.
As the patient population ages and we are coming across more chronic conditions and comorbidities, the need for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 12% from 2016 to 2026 according to BLS.gov. While some pharmacy positions will do on the job training, you are much more likely to become employed and get a higher wage if you are a certified pharmacy technician. Most hospitals require certification upon hire or within a year of hire.
Pharmacy technicians have flexible schedules. They can work part time, full time or as needed. Most retail pharmacies have normal daytime hours, but hospital pharmacies are open 24/7 which allows evening and midnight options if needed. MySECO lists companies like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Humana and Manpower Inc. as companies that partner with military spouses to fill open positions. A quickly growing career such as a pharmacy technician could be the ideal portable career for military spouses.
Ed4Career offers the Pharmacy Technician Professional Program which includes the Pharmacy Technician, Pharmacology, Pharmacy Calculations and Better Interpersonal Communication courses. Upon successful completion of our Pharmacy Technician course, students will be prepared for an entry-level position in a pharmacy and to sit for either the PTCB national certification exam to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (PTCE) or for the NHA national certification Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).