Pharmacy Technician Schools in New Mexico
New Mexico’s pharmacy technicians have a little more responsibility than in some states. They also have more rigorous training. Like pharmacy technicians across the nation, pharmacy technicians in the state of New Mexico work under the supervision of trained pharmacists to perform many duties from compounding and packaging medications to filling prescriptions and greeting customers. In many states, there is a ratio of two or three technicians to every licensed pharmacist. In New Mexico, though, the ratio is four to one. In some instances, moreover, the ratio can be increased — pharmacists are allowed to petition the board.
New Mexico’s pharmacy technicians have a wide range of job responsibilities, which vary by setting. The majority work in retail environments and count customer service among their major job duties. Pharmacy technicians in hospitals or care facilities may prepare sterile products like IV admixtures. Those working for insurance companies will likely spend a lot of time managing information via computer systems.
Pharmacy Technician Certification and Registration in New Mexico
New Mexico’s pharmacy technicians are required to complete a pharmacy technician training program. While the state does not maintain a list of board-approved programs, it does specify what topics must be covered. Training must include 220 hours in work-related concepts like pharmaceutical calculations, field-specific terminology, packaging and labeling procedures, and names of frequently dispensed medications. In addition, pharmacy technicians must be educated about applicable federal and state laws and about the industry’s professional standards.
This training does not have to be completed prior to initial employment, but rather within a year of initial registration. Until such time as all requirements are met, workers are classified as non-certified pharmacy technician.
Pharmacy technicians also have one year to take and pass a national pharmacy technician certification exam. There are two certifying agencies, the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, and either is acceptable for registration in New Mexico. There are minor differences between the two, and some students may have a preference for one over the other. Both include multiple choice questions on a range of issues, from pharmacies duties to professional ethics. Both require applicants to pass a criminal background check.
Whichever route one chooses, twenty continuing education units are required each renewal period. At least one class must cover legal issues. New Mexico has no additional requirements for continuing education beyond what the ICPT and PTCB require.
Pharmacy Technician Salary and Job outlook in New Mexico
Pharmacy technicians often have evening or weekend rotations, but ultimately they earn good money. The average annual salary for a pharmacy technician in New Mexico was reported as $27,480 in 2007. This was very near what was then the national average: $27,560. Salaries continue to rise a little to keep pace with inflation.
Salary is dependent on setting, and many technicians aspire to move up to more lucrative positions. 75% of positions nationwide are in drug stores, grocery stores, and other retail establishments. Of these, grocery stores pay the highest, with a mean of $28,610 in 2009. General merchandise stores have the lowest mean salary: $25,660.
Many pharmacy technicians do move up to higher paying positions in general hospitals where the mean salary is $32,710. Here externships can be useful. They are an opportunity to make connections as well as gain job skills. Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque has, in addition to community and hospital externship sites, some in sterile product preparation. This skill is highly valued by employers in medical centers. Another specialty field that exists in New Mexico is nuclear pharmacy. It takes some preparation to break into the field, though. Nuclear Education Online reports that they only enroll pharmacy technicians who are employed in a nuclear pharmacy facility.