Pharmacy technicians assist licensed pharmacists by providing medication and health care products to patients. They typically help in the preparation of prescribed medications by conducting tasks such as labeling and tablet counting.
Although these professionals often receive on-the-job training, there are programs available that can help prepare students for pharmacy technician certification exams, such as those offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Whether certification is required depends on the state in which one lives, but optional certification can still improve job prospects.
Depending on whether one seeks PTCB or NHA certification, other requirements apply. Both certifications require a high school diploma, but the NHA additionally requires that one completes continuing education courses and is 18 years or older.
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Pharmacy Technology Certificate
Pharmacy technicians need to be good with people, pay attention to details and have a sense of how to provide exceptional customer service. During the completion of a certificate program, students will learn how to develop the skills mentioned and may also undergo some clinical training. Other topics students will learn about include:
- Anatomy and physiology of the human body
- Billing and reimbursement
- Types of drugs
- General stocking, filling and interpretation of physicians' orders
- Medical and pharmaceutical terminology
- Federal and state pharmacy laws
Pharmacy technicians are able to enjoy flexibility in their work as many positions can be full or part-time depending on preference. About 70 percent of pharmacy techs work in grocery stores or retail pharmacies, department stores or mass retailers. They work similar hours to pharmacists, which may include nights, weekends and holidays. These professionals can also be found working for internet pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, and wholesalers of pharmaceutical products.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians can expect faster-than-average job growth of 9% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). As more prescription medications are needed for the aging population and those with chronic diseases, this field will see growth. Certified and experienced technicians will have good prospects.
The BLS reports that as of May 2015, pharmacy technicians make a mean annual wage of $31,680. Other factors that can make a difference in earning potential are evening and weekend shifts, union participation and the area of the country in which the pharmacy technician works.
Students wishing to work as pharmacy technicians can enroll in a certificate program to prepare for their certification exam through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Graduates can expect positive job growth in the field.