High School Diploma or Equivalent Completion of formal training Click here for more information
Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) Click here for more information
Average starting wage: $14.73 per hour
High Job Demand
Pharmacy Technicians work under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist in retail pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, government agencies and online pharmacies. They prepare and fill medical prescriptions for patients.
Pharmacy Technicians (techs) mainly work in two settings—hospitals and retail pharmacies. In both places, techs order, store and prepare drugs. The rest of their tasks depend on the workplace.
In retail, techs have a lot of contact with the public. Customers give them new prescriptions and orders to refill, techs will ask questions to make sure the details are right, then they mix and fill the prescription orders following the pharmacist’s directions. Techs must be careful when handling and storing drugs and chemicals and their work areas must be kept clean and orderly.
Pharmacy techs in retail answer phones, call physician offices for refills and authorizations, enter data into a computer to keep track of patients’ medications, keep patients’ prescriptions and insurance information current in the computer systems and communicate with insurance companies as to which medications are available for patients.
In hospitals, techs don’t talk directly to the patients. Instead, they receive copies of medication orders that physicians record in patient charts. These orders may be sent from nurse stations or through a computer database. (Most hospitals utilize patient data systems.) The techs prepare the prescribed dosages of the drugs that get delivered to the patients by the nursing staff. Hospital techs may also prepare medication for IVs and syringes. Hospital techs may deliver drugs to nursing stations, field telephone questions from hospital staff and help process health insurance forms.
Helping a pharmacist dispense prescription medication might seem like an easy task, but it requires immense precision and detail. Pharmacy technicians ensure medications are filled correctly in a specified window of time. Unlike licensed pharmacists, pharmacy technicians are not the sole dispensers of medication. They mostly assist in measuring, mixing, counting and labeling dosages of medications. Also, pharmacy technicians don’t typically advise patients on proper medication dosages and side effects the way a pharmacist does.
Pharmacy technicians face two key challenges—1) up-to-date knowledge of all the changes that occur within the medical field relative to new generics and drugs and 2) interacting with patients who are "not always feeling their best." It takes a lot of compassion and empathy to be a Pharmacy Technician.
- Receive written prescriptions or refill requests and verify that information is complete and accurate.
- Prepack bulk medicines, fill bottles with prescribed medications and type and affix labels.
- Answer phones, responding to questions or requests.
- Assist customers by answering simple questions, locating items or referring them to the pharmacist for medication information.
- Price and file prescriptions that have been filled.
- Maintain proper storage and security conditions for drugs.
- Establish and maintain patient profiles, including lists of medications taken by individual patients.
- Order, label and count stock of medications, chemicals or supplies and enter inventory data into computer.
- Receive and store incoming supplies, verify quantities against invoices, check for outdated medications in current inventory and inform supervisors of stock needs and shortages.
- Mix pharmaceutical preparations according to written prescriptions.
Skills and Abilities Needed to Perform Job:
- Knowledge of accounting software used for billing and reimbursement.
- Knowledge of data base user interface and query software (drug compatibility)
- Knowledge of medical software (MEDITECH, pharmaceutical, patient record maintenance, etc.)
- Knowledge of inventory management software.
- Knowledge and use of analytical or scientific software.
- Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services.
- Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, disease and deformities.
- Knowledge of mathematics—arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics and their applications.
- Knowledge and use of Microsoft software (Office, Excel, Work Outlook)
- Near Vision – Ability to see details at close range.
- Oral Comprehension – Ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Comprehension – Ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Problem Sensitivity – Ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.
- Speech Recognition – Ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Information Ordering – Ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules.
- Deductive Reasoning – Ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Category Flexibility – Ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Speech Clarity – Ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Desired Work Style Attributes:
- Attention to details
- Integrity – Honest and ethical
- Dependability – Reliable and responsible
- Cooperation – Pleasant with others
- Stress Tolerance – Accepting criticism and dealing calming in stressful situations
- Initiative – Willing to take on responsibilities and challenges
- Concern for Others – Sensitive to needs of others