Certified Pharmacist Technician: Career Information & Requirements

Certified pharmacist technicians who have completed certificate training assist in preparing and dispensing medications under a pharmacist's supervision in a variety of health-related and retail settings. Read on to learn more about education and training requirements, career outlook and related jobs.

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Career Definition for a Certified Pharmacist Technician

Certified pharmacist technicians work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist to provide clinical and administrative support. Their duties include taking new prescriptions; recording patient, physician and insurance information; verifying prescriptions; measuring liquid medicines and counting tablets; labeling medications and taking inventory of pharmacy stock. Work schedules usually include night and weekend shifts. Certified pharmacist technicians are employed by hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies and grocery and retail stores with pharmacy departments.

Education On the job training possible, technical school and community college training programs also available
License Requirements vary by state
Job Skills Physical fitness, communication, attention to detail
Median Salary (2015)* $30,410 for pharmacy technicians
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% for pharmacy technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

On the job training is possible, but certified pharmacy technicians with formal training and certification are more likely to find better job opportunities. Certified pharmacy technicians may attend either technical school or community college training programs for 9-12 months, earning a certificate or diploma in pharmacy technology. Certified pharmacy technicians have studied pharmacology, medical terminology, ethics and math. They also perform clinical work as part of their training.

Licensing Requirements

Professional licensing or certification of pharmacist technicians is often required by states, although requirements vary. Professional certification exams are offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the National Healthcareer Association. According to the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, all but six states have some kind of regulations in place regarding certified pharmacy technicians. Continuing education is required for re-certification.

Skills Required

Careers like certified pharmacy tech require several physical skills, like the ability to stand, bend, lift and climb as needed. Certified pharmacy technicians also need recording skills, communication skills and strong attention to detail.

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Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports potential job growth of 9% from 2014 to 2024 for pharmacy technicians, partly because of the increasing number of older adults needing prescription medications (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, hospitals provide the highest wages to pharmacy technicians. Pharmacist technicians in general earned a median salary of $30,410 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.

Alternative Career Options

Consider these other options in healthcare and pharmacy careers:

Medical Assistant

Medical assistant jobs require a similar educational path for employment; on-the-job training is common, although 1-year diploma and certificate programs and 2-year associate's degree programs are available. There are also several voluntary professional certification options for medical assistants. Medical assistants support physicians in an office setting. They may take patient histories, administer injections or book appointments. The BLS predicts that jobs for medical assistants will increase 23% from 2014-2024. They earned median pay of $30,590 in May 2015.

Pharmacist

A more advanced pharmacy-related career is that of pharmacist - the person who fills prescriptions written by physicians. A pharmacist checks for drug interactions, talks to people to make sure they understand when and how to take a particular drug, supervises pharmacy technicians, keeps inventory and handles administrative paperwork. A Doctor of Pharmacy degree and licensing are required in order to obtain a job as a pharmacist. Applicants to Doctor of Pharmacy programs usually need up to three years of undergraduate college or a 4-year bachelor's degree. The BLS reports that pharmacists can expect 3% job growth from 2014-2024, and pharmacists earned a median salary of $121,500 in May 2015.

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