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Difference Between a Pharmacist & Pharmacy Technician

Both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians work in a pharmacy setting, although their duties require different levels of education. Find out the similarities and differences between two careers that help patients get the medications they need.

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Comparing Pharmacists to Pharmacy Technicians

While pharmacists and pharmacy technicians both work in a pharmacy setting, their jobs require different tasks and skill levels. Pharmacists have extensive knowledge of medications and are in charge of ensuring patients get the right medicines, and pharmacy technicians help fill and deliver individual prescriptions. Below is a comparison of these two healthcare-related careers.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Pharmacist Doctoral degree $122,230 3%
Pharmacy Technician High school diploma $30,920 9%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Pharmacists vs. Pharmacy Technicians

Although pharmacists and pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies together, their job duties vary widely. In one sense, pharmacy technicians are the pharmacists' assistants, taking orders and communicating with patients. Pharmacists, on the other hand, speak directly with doctors and dole out medications. They also double check to make sure there will not be any adverse drug interactions with other medicines a patient is taking. Pharmacists verify what goes into a prescription, and pharmacy technicians make sure it gets to the right patient.

Pharmacist

Pharmacists perform a variety of duties in a pharmacy, from communicating with doctors to administering vaccinations. They have the knowledge to help patients find drugs that will not have negative reactions, and they are able to make sure that a patient's prescription is accurate before giving it to them. Pharmacists also make sure that pharmacy technicians are doing good work as well as train other up-and-coming pharmacists, or interns, that may be present. Pharmacists work in pharmacies, which are often located in retail stores or hospitals. If their pharmacy is open 24 hours, they may have to work at night and on weekends.

Job responsibilities of a pharmacist include:

  • Giving patients advice about health issues
  • Keeping records
  • Interacting with insurance companies
  • Teaching other people who practice healthcare about medications
  • Taking continuing education classes

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians perform many administrative tasks in a pharmacy. They take customer phone calls and help them speak with pharmacists when they have a question. They take patient payments as well. Pharmacy technicians also measure out medications for prescriptions. These professionals most often work in retail pharmacies, but they may also assist pharmacists in hospitals or other facilities. They may have to work at odd hours if their pharmacy is open all the time.

Job responsibilities of a pharmacy technician include:

  • Collecting information from patients
  • Packaging and labeling prescriptions
  • Entering patient information into computer systems
  • Taking inventory
  • Letting pharmacists know when medication stocks are low

Related Careers

Someone interested in pursuing a career as a pharmacist might also take a moment to consider becoming a physician's assistant, since both involve working with doctors to help provide care for patients. Anyone interested in being a pharmacy technician might also like a career as a lab technician because, like pharmacy technicians, lab technicians assist others in their work.

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