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Pharmacy Technician Careers

Aug 17, 2007
Pharmacy Technician- a Career Option

Becoming a pharmacy technician can be a rewarding career choice. This field has good career prospects, monetary benefits and rewards. Pharmacy technicians assist licensed pharmacists in providing health care products and medications to patients. They routinely prepare prescribed medicines for the patients; for example, counting the tablets and fixing labels to bottles. The pharmacy technician refers questions regarding drug information, prescriptions or health matters to the pharmacist.


A National Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination, conducted by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, which is held at various examination centers at a national level, has to be passed in order to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). Candidates are required have a high school diploma/GED, and must not have any record of felony. Once qualified, pharmacy technicians need to be recertified every two years.

The eligibility criteria for recertification is to have completed twenty contact hours of pharmacy related topics, within the two-year certification period. Attending lectures, college course work and on-the-job training are all considered for awarding contact hours. It is mandatory to have a minimum of one contact hour in pharmacy law. Flexibility allows contact hours to be earned from different sources. Up to ten contact hours can be earned by working under the direct supervision of a pharmacist.

Other sources are attending pharmacy colleges, belonging to pharmacy associations, and pharmacy technician training programs. However, presently, there is no federal requirement for formal training and certification of a pharmacy technician, although there may be some states that do have such a requirement. Many employers provide on-the-job training to people and recruit them as pharmacy technicians.

As reliance on pharmacy technicians continues to grow, more states and employers require pharmacy technicians to be formally educated and certified. Many employers offer to reimburse the cost of the examination as an incentive. Formal education programs are offered by the military and some hospitals. Proprietary schools, community colleges and vocational or technical colleges also offer education programs.

Place and Nature of Work

Pharmacy technicians generally work in hospitals, general medical and surgical stores, health and personal care stores, and retail or mail order pharmacies. Their job responsibilities differ accordingly, and are dependent on applicable laws and other regulatory mandates of the state. They receive prescriptions in writing and requests from patients for prescription refills. A doctor's office may also send a prescription electronically.

The pharmacy technician has to verify the information in the prescription, for completeness and accuracy. The preparation of the prescription requires the pharmacy technician to retrieve, count, pour, measure, weigh and occasionally mix the required medication. They have to select the type of prescription container, and create and fix the labels on it. After it is filled, they price the prescription and file it. The pharmacist then checks this before it is given to the patient. Pharmacy technicians may be required to prepare insurance claim forms, maintain patient profiles, and take an inventory of over-the-counter prescription medications.

They must be aware of the latest medicines and their availability. At times, they also need to advise the patient about diet and health requirements. According to available records for 2004, pharmacy technicians earned median hourly wages of $11.37. The highest figure was $16.61 and the lowest was $7.96.

A career as a pharmacy technician can be pursued even without formal certification in most states, and allows working in clean, organized work areas. It offers a reasonably good salary and benefit package.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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