Pharmacy technicians are employed by a number of businesses. According to the United States Department of Labor, about two-thirds work in retail pharmacies. These retail businesses include drugstores, supermarkets and mass retail chains. According to USA TODAY, Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain by sales and profits, employs nearly 39,000 technicians. CVS, the largest retail chain in terms of store count, employs around 41,000 pharmacy technicians. The remaining third of pharmacy technicians are employed by hospitals and other medical care facilities.
While pharmacy technicians are in high demand, technicians with formal training are in the highest demand. Over the next ten years, as the demand for healthcare needs in the middle-aged and elderly generations increase, employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to grow rapidly. Salary.com states that in 2007 the average pharmacy technician salary was $27,261, with the lowest 10 percent making less than $21,663 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $34,544. Employees with the greatest amount of training earned the most.
Technicians are Desperately Needed
Pharmacy technicians perform a variety of tasks, most often assisting the pharmacists, filling prescriptions, and performing various customer service tasks. Another common task includes directing patient questions regarding drug information, health matters or prescriptions to the pharmacist.
Filling prescriptions is the main duty for a pharmacy technician. Once an order is received, they must verify the prescription information is accurate and then count, pour, measure, weigh, and in some cases, mix the medication. The technician is also responsible for preparing patient insurance forms and maintaining patient profiles. Job duties will differ according to workplace. Other duties could include answering phone calls, handling money, stocking shelves and data entry.
Pharmacy technicians who work in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have different responsibilities than retail employees. Pharmacy technicians in the medical care field are responsible for reading patient charts, preparing and delivering medicine to nurses, who then administer it to patients. Technicians package and label each dose of medication by hand or packaging machines.
Technician Training Offers Real World Training
In the past, technicians have only received on-the-job training, but as the job market is becoming increasing competitive, employers are requiring professional training. Employers want their employees to understand the pharmaceutical business because it is becoming increasingly more complex. Formal training programs are comprised of a combination of classroom and lab work. Students often partake in internship programs where they obtain real world, hands-on experience. Most formal training programs result in a diploma, a certificate or an Associates degree.
Pharmacy technician training courses may include:
* Basic Medical Terminology
* Human Diseases
* Alternative Medicines
* Hospital and Retail Pharmacy Procedures
* Drug Classifications
* Pharmacy Law and Ethics
* History of Medicine and Pharmacy
* Prescription Processing
* Body Systems
Certified Technicians Earn Better Wages
Once training is complete, students have the opportunity to take the National Pharmacy Certification Examination. This exam is not required in most states, but many employers prefer individuals who have passed the exam. Passing the exam makes you more valuable in the competitive job market. In order to take the exam, you must have a high school diploma or a GED and cannot have any felony convictions on your record.
It is important to note that certified pharmacy technicians must be re-certified every two years. In addition, they must complete at least 20 contact hours each year. Attending lectures, completing college coursework, and specialized on-the-job training are all ways to complete contact hours. Employers often provide employees reimbursement for their certification costs.
Now is a great time to get into the pharmacy technician field. The field is growing rapidly and employers are actively seeking well-trained employees. Training takes less time than traditional programs, so it is a great choice for people with busy schedules. After a few years in the field, many people choose to further their education and continue on to pharmacist school.