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Pharmacy Technician Careers

 
photo of a tech handing a prescription to a customer

Work Environment

Pharmacy technicians work the same hours that pharmacists work. Work hours may include evenings, nights, weekends and holidays, particularly in facilities that are open 24 hours a day, such as hospitals and some retail pharmacies. As their seniority increases, technicians often acquire increased control over the hours they work. There are many opportunities for part-time work in both retail and hospital settings.

The work is not physically taxing, although technicians do spend a lot of time on their feet and they may need to lift heavy boxes. This profession is also not advised for people who may have ethical or moral issues with dispensing certain medications.

For more information on job duties and descriptions, see:

  • Pharmacy Technician Careers by Pharmacy Choice
  • What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
  • Job Skills and Abilities

    An effective pharmacy technician will be able to:

    • Be organized and efficient in work habits
    • Be sensitive to problems, with the ability to tell when something is wrong or about to go wrong.
    • Be comfortable in a range of inter-personal situations
    • Communicate well, conveying information effectively
    • Cooperate with others
    • Exhibit dependability and responsibility
    • Have good math, spelling and reading skills
    • Have excellent oral comprehension, with the ability to understand information and ideas expressed verbally
    • Have vision good enough to see details well at close range
    • Listen actively, giving full attention to what people are saying and asking questions as appropriate
    • Look for ways to help people with effective service orientation
    • Instruct others how to do something
    • Maintain self control, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in difficult situations
    • Speak clearly so that others can understand you
    • Strong teamwork skills to interact effectively with patients, co-workers and health-care professionals
    • Willing and able to take directions, but able to work independently without constant supervision

    Candidates interested in becoming pharmacy technicians cannot have prior records of drug or substance abuse.

    Job Descriptions

    Get detailed information about the skills, abilities, work activities and recommended education of pharmacy technicians from:

    Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists provide medication and other health-care products to patients. Technicians usually perform routine tasks such as counting tablets, labeling bottles, pouring, weighing, measuring and mixing medications as necessary.

    They interact with patients both in person and over the telephone, maintain patient profiles and verify electronically submitted prescriptions from health-care providers. Technicians refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information or health matters to a pharmacist.

    Pharmacy technicians are also responsible for maintaining stock and keeping an accurate inventory of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Other duties vary by employer and could include filling out insurance claim forms and stocking shelves.

    Pharmacy technicians work in:

    • Assisted living facilities
    • Community pharmacies
    • Compounding pharmacies
    • Grocery store pharmacies
    • Hospitals
    • Home infusion pharmacies
    • Internet and mail order pharmacies
    • Nursing homes
    • Physicians’ offices
    • Retail pharmacies

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 71 percent of pharmacy technician jobs are with retail pharmacies, grocery stores, department stores or mass retailers.

    Projected Job Growth and Estimated Salaries

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians held about 326,000 jobs in 2008. About 71 percent of jobs were in retail pharmacies, either independently owned or part of a drugstore chain, grocery store, department store or mass retailer. About 18 percent of jobs were in hospitals and a small proportion was in mail-order and Internet pharmacies, offices of physicians, pharmaceutical wholesalers and the federal government.

    Employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 31 percent from 2008 to 2018 and good job opportunities are expected for full-time and part-time work, especially for technicians with formal training or previous experience.

    In large pharmacies and health systems, pharmacy technicians with significant training, experience and certification can be promoted to supervisory positions, mentoring and training pharmacy technicians with less experience. Some may advance into specialty positions such as chemotherapy technician and nuclear pharmacy technician. Others move into pharmaceutical sales. With a substantial amount of formal training, some pharmacy technicians go on to become pharmacists.

    Salaries and Projected Job Growth

    According to America’s Career Infonet, these occupations include the following salaries across the nation:

    Job Hourly Rate Annual Salary Projected Growth Through 2018
    Pharmacy Technician $13.32 $27,700 +32%