Chemotherapy technicians work in hospital pharmacies under the supervision of a pharmacist to prepare medications for oncology patients. They usually receive on-the-job training and require a high school diploma or GED. The job growth outlook for these workers is faster than average.
Chemotherapy technicians mix and monitor medications for oncology patients and work under the supervision of a physician or pharmacist, generally in a hospital pharmacy. Employers often prefer candidates who are already certified pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy technicians need just a high school education or the equivalent, plus training after hiring. Certification requires passing an examination and maintaining skills through continuing education and a recertification process.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED certificate and on-the-job training|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||9% for all pharmacy technicians|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$30,410 for all pharmacy technicians|
Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description for Chemotherapy Technicians
Chemotherapy technicians typically work under a physician or pharmacist's direct supervision. They usually work in oncology treatment centers in a hospital pharmacy setting. These workers are a specialized form of pharmacy technician and provide patient services while assisting medical personnel.
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't publish data pertaining specifically to chemotherapy technicians, it does have figures for the closely related pharmacy technician field. The BLS predicts positions for all pharmacy technicians will increase by 9% between 2014 and 2024. This is faster than the national average for all jobs. The BLS also states that, as of May 2015, pharmacy technicians made a median annual salary of $30,410.
Chemotherapy Technician Duties
Chemotherapy technicians prepare chemotherapy medications for oncology patients. They are also responsible for maintaining a sanitary work environment and patient area. From an administrative standpoint, they manage and restock pharmaceutical inventory, and they are often responsible for ordering supplies. Chemotherapy technicians must also keep records of patient doses and drug mixtures, usually through an electronic filing system, for health and billing purposes.
Chemotherapy technicians label pharmaceutical chemicals appropriately and mix medication solutions using specialized equipment in a sterile environment. They also provide assistance as needed to other medical personnel, such as pharmacists, physicians and nurses.
Requirements for Chemotherapy Technicians
In addition to a high school diploma and relevant work experience, employers may prefer applicants who are certified pharmacy technicians as indicated by a November 2014 job search on CareerBuilder.com. Aspiring chemotherapy technicians can obtain this certification by taking the pharmacy technician certification exam (PTCE). The PTCE is a multiple-choice exam that covers pharmacist assistance, inventory control and administrative practices. Certified pharmacy technicians must recertify every two years and meet continuing education requirements (www.ptcb.org).
Chemotherapy technician certification is also available for certified pharmacy technicians through the National Pharmacy Technician association. The certification process includes self-study requirements and focuses on the safe handling of hazardous drugs. Additionally, chemotherapy technicians should have knowledge of medical terminology and a strong background in basic mathematics.
Voluntary certification is available for pharmacy technicians and is often preferred by employers. Certification involves passing an exam. Positions in this field have a median annual salary of around $30,410.