How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Our Nation’s elderly population is growing faster than any other age group at this time due in large part to advances in medical technology and medications that help people live longer. Job opportunities for pharmacy technicians in retail, hospital and online pharmacies are growing at astonishing rates, in fact the National Pharmacy Technician Association website reports that job growth in this field will grow by 28.8%. This is great time to become a pharmacy technician.

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Education & Training for Pharmacy Technicians

Requirements for pharmacy technician employment will vary based on facility type and location. Formal training coupled with experience is desirable but not required. A high school diploma or equivalent education is often the minimum requirement for pharmacy technicians. National pharmacy technician certification is preferred in most facilities but not always required. In states where pharmacy technicians are required to be licensed or certified by the state board of pharmacy, applicants will be most competitive if they possess the license or certification prior to applying. Pharmacy techs must have knowledge of generic and brand names for medications. Those applicants who have completed a formal pharmacy technician training program, have pharmacy technician work experience, hold a national certification and have the required state licensure or certification will have the greatest opportunities.

Pharmacy Technician Job Description

Pharmacy technicians work under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist in retail, hospital, nursing home, government agency and online pharmacies. Pharmacy techs in a retail pharmacy answer phones, call physician offices for refills and authorizations, count pills, mix and medications, compound medications, complete prior authorizations for patients, take prescriptions and fill prescriptions, enter data into computer to keep track of patients’ medications, keep patients’ prescription insurance current in computer systems, order supplies, take inventory, communicate with insurance companies as to which medications are available for patients, labeling prescription bottles and verifying contents, and related tasks.

Pharmacy Technician Salary and Employment Outlook

The National Pharmacy Technician Association salary survey found that the median annual salary for pharmacy technicians is $23,650. Our 2008 research of salary websites and job postings found that the hourly rate for pharmacy techs ranged from $8.76 an hour to over $15.00 an hour. Salaries will vary significantly depending on location, education, experience, size of facility and other factors.

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