How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

If you are well-organized, pay close attention to detail and have an interest in the pharmaceutical industry, you might wonder how to become a pharmacy technician. Pharmacy technicians are the personnel in drugstores and medical facilities who work under the supervision of a pharmacist and prepare prescription medications. Though pharmacy technician is typically an entry-level position, it can be a fulfilling job and a stepping stone to advancing into management roles or sales positions within the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmacy technicians find work in the pharmacy department of drugstores, grocery stores and department stores as well as in hospitals. Pharmacy technicians process prescriptions that need to be filled. They measure out the prescribed amount of a medication and blend medications that must be mixed. Pharmacy technicians put these medications in bottles or other forms of packaging, making sure all labels are accurate to protect customer safety. They also handle payments as well as customer interactions such as phone calls and sales. In the event that a customer has a question, the pharmacy technician alerts the pharmacist to help them.

Pharmacy technician jobs are typically entry-level positions in which the candidate receives much of his or her training on-the-job. Many employers seek candidates with a high school diploma and require no higher level of education. Others may look for candidates who have completed a one-year or shorter certificate program in pharmacy technology at a community college or vocational school. Coursework in one such program may include relevant laws and ethics, appropriate ways to keep documentation, and information such as names, purposes and dosages of specific medications. Many aspiring pharmacy technicians earn certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the National Healthcareer Association in order to satisfy state or employer requirements or simply gain a competitive edge in their job search. States may also require pharmacy technicians to obtain licensure.

Pharmacy technicians earn a median salary of $28,400 per year, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics BLS reported. Actual wages vary based on location, experience and type of employer. Pharmacy technicians in hospitals must dispense a more diverse variety of medications, so they often make more money than their counterparts in drugstores. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $32,400 for pharmacy technicians who work in hospitals.

Pharmacy technicians also enjoy an above-average job outlook, with the BLS predicting a 32 percent increase in job opportunities between 2010 and 2020. The expected rate of growth for all occupations during that time is only 14 percent. The role of pharmacy technician is a great position for those who currently possess little to no formal education beyond a high school diploma but are interested in a career path within the pharmaceutical industry. If you are detail-oriented, organized enough to keep track of important health and pharmaceutical information and have an interest in the pharmaceutical industry, knowing how to become a pharmacy technician could be your first step toward a new career in a rapidly-growing field.

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