Career Guide: Pharmacy Technician
Adapted from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition
• Job opportunities are expected to be good for full-time and part-time work, especially for those with certification or previous work experience.
• Many technicians work evenings, weekends and holidays.
• About seven out of 10 of jobs were in retail pharmacies, grocery stores, department stores or mass retailers.
Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists provide medication and other healthcare products to patients. Technicians usually perform routine tasks to help prepare prescribed medication for patients, such as counting tablets and labeling bottles. Technicians refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information or health matters to a pharmacist.
Those in pharmacy aide careers work closely with pharmacy technicians. They often are clerks or cashiers who primarily answer telephones, handle money, stock shelves and perform other clerical duties. Pharmacy technicians usually perform more complex tasks than do those in pharmacy aide careers, although in some states their duties and job titles may overlap.
Pharmacy technicians who work in retail or mail-order pharmacies have varying responsibilities, depending on state rules and regulations. Technicians receive written prescriptions or requests for prescription refills from patients. They also may receive prescriptions sent electronically from the doctor’s office. They must verify that the information on the prescription is complete and accurate. To prepare the prescription, technicians must retrieve, count, pour, weigh, measure and sometimes mix the medication. Then, they prepare the prescription labels, select the type of prescription container, and affix the prescription and auxiliary labels to the container. Once the prescription is filled, technicians price and file the prescription, which must be checked by a pharmacist before it is given to the patient. Technicians may establish and maintain patient profiles, prepare insurance claim forms, and stock and take inventory of prescription and over-the-counter medications.