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Career Guide: Pharmacy Technician

Career Guide: Pharmacy Technician

Adapted from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition

In hospitals, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, technicians have added responsibilities, including reading patients’ charts and preparing and delivering the medicine to patients. Still, the pharmacist must check the order before it is delivered to the patient. The technician then copies the information about the prescribed medication onto the patient’s profile. Technicians also may assemble a 24-hour supply of medicine for every patient. They package and label each dose separately. The packages are then placed in the medicine cabinets of patients until the supervising pharmacist checks them for accuracy. The packages are then given to the patients.

Working Conditions

Pharmacy technicians work in clean, organized, well-lighted and well-ventilated areas. Most of their workday is spent on their feet. They may be required to lift heavy boxes or to use stepladders to retrieve supplies from high shelves.

More on Pharmacists


Salary: $67,860 - $119,480
Min. Education: Doctorate
Related Careers: Physician, Dentist

Technicians work the same hours that pharmacists work. These may include evenings, nights, weekends and holidays, particularly in facilities, such as hospitals and retail pharmacies, that are open 24 hours a day. As their seniority increases, technicians often acquire increased control over the hours they work. There are many opportunities for part-time work in both retail and hospital settings.

Employment

Pharmacy technicians held about 258,000 jobs in 2004. About seven out of 10 jobs were in retail pharmacies, either independently owned or part of a drugstore chain, grocery store, department store or mass retailer. About two out of 10 jobs were in hospitals and a small proportion was in mail-order and Internet pharmacies, clinics, pharmaceutical wholesalers and the federal government.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement

Although most pharmacy technicians receive informal on-the-job training, employers favor those who have completed formal training and certification. However, there are currently few state and no federal requirements for formal training or certification of pharmacy technicians. Employers who have insufficient resources to give on-the-job training often seek formally educated pharmacy technicians. Formal education programs and certification emphasize the technician’s interest in and dedication to the work. In addition to the military, some hospitals, proprietary schools, vocational or technical colleges and community colleges offer formal education programs.


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