Pharmacy Career Option: Certified Pharmacy Technician

A certified pharmacy technician is a healthcare worker who does a number of different tasks in a pharmacy. He or she works directly under a licensed pharmacist or some other health professional. 

A pharmacy tech can work in many different types of settings, such as hospitals, retail pharmacies, long-term care facilities, for pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance companies, computer software companies, or in government or even teaching. As of 2010, there were more than 300,000 pharmacy technicians, with more than half of them working in pharmacies and drug stores. An additional 20 percent worked in hospitals. 

As part of their job, pharmacy technicians dispense drugs prescribed by a physician and other medical devices and give instructions on how they are to be used. They also take the information from a prescription and enter the data into the pharmacy’s prescription software for processing.  Other duties of the job include counting tablets and measuring medications for prescriptions, compounding or mixing medications, and packaging and labeling prescriptions. Pharmacy technicians also could perform administrative work, involving such tasks as reviewing prescription requests with physicians’ offices and insurance companies to make sure that the medication and dosage are correct for reimbursement. 

Lately, the role of pharmacist technicians has become more important because of the shortage of pharmacists. 

To become a certified pharmacy technician, a person usually has to be certified with a national or local pharmacy board by passing a standardized test. Training is also often required. 

The median annual salary for pharmacy technicians in 2010 was more than $28,000, according to the federal government. In other words, half of the people in this job earned more than $28,000, and half earned less. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $20,000, while the top 10 percent of pharmacy technician wage earners made almost $41,000. The median salary for pharmacy technicians in hospitals was more than $32,000. 

The number of job openings for pharmacy technicians is projected to increase by 32 percent by the year 2020, which is much faster than average for most jobs. Job prospects for people in the field are considered to be very good, especially for those who have formal training.