Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in dispersing medication to patients. Their duties range from counting tablets, stocking shelves and labeling bottles to filing insurance claims and operating the cash register.
While most technicians receive on-the-job training, employers prefer candidates who have earned a technician certification or have completed a degree program. And job prospects for pharmacy technicians are especially promising over the next eight years, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics.
Degree and certification programs combine classroom work with laboratory experience in a wide range of subjects, including pharmaceutical terminology, recordkeeping and ethics. Many degree programs also have internship components in which students gain hands-on familiarity with the names, usages and dosages of various medications.
Certification examinations for pharmacy technicians are administered by one of two national organizations: The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. Both organizations require technicians to be recertified every other year, which necessitates 20 hours of continuing education.
The job of a pharmacy technician is to assist a pharmacist in dispersing medication to patients. Technicians may be employed at pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes or other medical facilities. Other duties of a technician may include:
Technicians may be expected to work evening and weekend hours, particularly if they are employed at a facility that is open 24 hours a day. Keen attention to detail is an essential attribute for pharmacy technicians. Many employers also prefer candidates with certification and previous pharmacy experience.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for pharmacy technicians are expected to increase 32 percent, a faster than average growth rate, over the next eight years. The median salary of a pharmacy technician in 2006 was $12.32 per hour, with the average range between $10.10 per hour and $14.92 per hour.
The top 10 percent of earners grossed more than $17.65 per hour. The highest paying employers of pharmacy technicians include surgical hospitals, at $13.86 per hour; grocery stores, at $12.78 per hour; and drug stores, at $11.50 per hour. Candidates with certification or union membership command earn higher than average salaries.