Pharmacy Tech Career Guide

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What Is a Pharmacy Tech?

A pharmacy tech is a healthcare professional who assists pharmacists with much of the day-to-day pharmacy work. They are responsible for helping prepare medications, customer service, and other clerical pharmacy duties.

Pharmacy technicians work alongside pharmacists to ensure that prescribed medications are dispensed safely and correctly. Pharmacy technicians are instrumental in helping patients receive the prescription medications they rely on.

Working as a pharmacy tech is a great way to begin a career in healthcare or pharmacy, as you can start without an advanced degree or a significant amount of education. Many pharmacists even begin as pharmacy techs!

Did you know that 60 percent of adults have taken prescription medication in the last year? That’s over 150 million people! Pharmacy techs are versatile, in demand, and needed nationwide. Are you interested in this important career path? We’ll go over what you need to get started, how to get a pharmacy tech license or certification, and everything else you need to know!

What is the Difference Between a Pharmacy Tech and a Pharmacist?

While pharmacy techs and pharmacists work closely together, there are many notable differences between the two. It's essential to understand the distinctions to make a knowledgeable decision about your career path.

  • Pharmacy technicians work under the close supervision and direction of a pharmacist.
  • Pharmacy techs can be trained on the job with no prior experience or can begin working after completing a pharmacy tech training program.
  • Pharmacists have greater responsibility over the operations of the pharmacy and have advanced training in pharmacology, chemistry, and biology.
  • The education required to be a pharmacist is extensive- pharmacists have Doctoral degrees in pharmacy.

What Does a Pharmacy Tech Do?

As a pharmacy tech, you will become familiar with a wide range of pharmacy skills and duties. The general pharmacy tech job description includes the following responsibilities, done under the supervision of a pharmacist:

Prepare medications. You will help fill prescribed medications accurately and safely. Pharmacy techs count, weigh, and label medications that will be dispensed.

Provide customer service. You will take phone calls, help people face-to-face, and answer questions. You will gather patient information, collect payment, communicate with doctors, and help with insurance and billing.

Assist with organization and inventory. You will help keep the thousands of medications pharmacies commonly dispense in stock and organized.

Plus, much more! Modern pharmacies are constantly changing to better meet their customers' needs. Pharmacy techs help schedule health screenings, vaccinations, and assist with other health outreach and education events.

How Do You Become a Pharmacy Tech?

There are a few different paths to becoming a pharmacy technician. Different states, different pharmacies, and different job postings can have specific or additional requirements, so be sure to closely read the pharmacy tech job description you are interested in.

On The Job Pharmacy Technician Training

Many pharmacies will hire pharmacy techs without formal training. You will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent before you can apply.

Pharmacy Technician Training Programs

There are two options for pharmacy technician training programs. Depending on what state you work in and what type of position interests you, you may choose to pursue formal training.

Pharmacy Technician Certificate Programs

  • A certificate program can be completed in four to six months. Online and in-person programs are available.
  • Associate Degree in Pharmacy Technician
  • An associate’s degree typically takes two years to complete. In-person and online programs are available. An associate degree will set you apart when applying for jobs and allow you greater opportunities for advancement.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacy Tech?

If you are able to get hired without experience, it doesn’t take any time at all! If you choose to pursue formal pharmacy tech training and education, it can take anywhere from a few months to two years.

FAQs About Pharmacy Techs

What skills does a Pharmacy Tech need?

Pharmacy techs need to have a basic understanding of the medications they work with. You will need to pay close attention to detail and value accuracy. Small details make a big difference in the world of prescription medications and dosages! Precision, attention, and care are paramount.

Work Settings For a Pharmacy Tech

Pharmacy techs work in a wide range of settings! You will enjoy being in demand and having the flexibility to find a job that fits your schedule and lifestyle. Each workplace can bring exciting differences in your responsibilities as a pharmacy tech. Pharmacy techs work in:

  • Hospital pharmacies
  • Community pharmacies
  • Compounding pharmacies
  • Clinics, long-term care, and outpatient care pharmacies
  • Mail-order or internet pharmacies

Pharmacy techs have the ability to work varied shifts. Pharmacies are often open evenings and weekends, and hospital pharmacies are needed 24 hours a day.

Common Cases a Pharmacy Tech Encounters

Here are some of the most common cases and responsibilities you will have as a pharmacy tech:

  • Preparing, measuring, and accurately labeling liquid and pill prescription medications.
  • Assisting with preparing, labeling, and dispensing intravenous (IV) medications if you work in a hospital or infusion pharmacy.
  • Organizing, stocking, and helping with the inventory and ordering of medication to ensure adequate supply.
  • Answering questions from customers, and referring them to pharmacists when needed. Contacting physician offices and insurance companies for additional information.
  • Contacting physician offices and insurance companies for additional information.

How To Advance Your Career as a Pharmacy Tech?

Once you begin a career as a pharmacist, the sky is the limit! You will have plenty of opportunities to advance your career. Here are some options:

  • Specialize in an area of pharmacy
  • Obtain certification in a specialty area of pharmacy
  • Become a pharmacy supervisor, manager, or administrator
  • Become a professor of pharmacy
  • Participate in the training and mentorship of new pharmacists

Education Requirements & Helpful Certifications for a Pharmacy Tech

To get started as a pharmacy tech, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. Remember, the level of training or what degree you need to be a pharmacy tech varies depending on the state you work in and the job you are applying for.

Becoming a certified pharmacy technician is a great next step! It is also a requirement in about half of all US states. Licensure is not required or offered as a pharmacy tech, but certification often is.

Certification shows your dedication and commitment to the customers you serve, and identifies you as having additional knowledge and skills that not all pharmacy techs have. Certification helps you stand out to potential employers, too!

You have two options for pharmacy technician certification:

Specialty Organizations & Communities for a Pharmacy Tech

Information coming soon

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