Pharmacy technicians work under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist and perform many pharmacy-related functions. They refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist. Pharmacy techs work in a wide variety of practice settings, including community pharmacies, hospitals, the military, in-home health care settings, long term care facilities, mail service pharmacies, managed health care organizations, and educational programs.
At Ryder, being a technician is about more than working on some of the highest quality vehicles in the business. It’s about mentorship and being trained and certified in the most recent technologies. It’s about working on a variety of vehicle models, brands, and types. But most importantly, it’s about having the chance to advance in your career, while experiencing the responsibility, compensation, and learning environment that only Ryder can offer.
The median annual wage for pharmacy technicians in 2014 was $29,810, although this varies by state. Pharmacy technicians in Washington, Alaska, California, Hawaii and Oregon are the highest earners, on average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the highest-paying positions are available with federal, state and local government agencies, outpatient care centers, and scientific research and development organizations. Pharmacy techs that work in department stores and health and personal care stores typically make lower annual wages.
There's ample need for pharmaceutical support professionals capable of filling prescription medications quickly and efficiently. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of about 12 percent between 2016 and 2026 – faster than the average growth rate for all occupations – and during that period, 47,600 new positions will need to be filled. "There's a tremendous amount of demand as the baby boomer population is aging and taking more and more medications, and with all the new prescription drugs that are being approved and consumed by Americans, there is a great amount of growth and increase in the pharmacy sector," Johnston says.
Take the pharmacy technician certification exam. Exams are given in virtually every state. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) administer certification exams. Which one should you choose? Start by reviewing each exam’s prerequisites. You may be required to have work experience or formal education in order to take the test. It’s also a good idea to check with your state board or local employers to see which certification is accepted.
Pharmacy technicians work under the direction of a licensed pharmacist to dispense medication and provide information to customers. Pharmacy technicians typically work behind a pharmacy counter at a drugstore, grocery store, hospital, nursing home or other medical facility. This position involves working with pharmacists, patients and occasionally with pharmaceutical reps.
Practical training, such as completing an internship in a pharmacy, is also often required as part of training for employment as a pharmacy technician. Many employers favor pharmacy technicians to be certified with a national or local pharmacy board, such as by passing a standard exam and/or paying a fee. In the United States, voluntary certification is available through many private organizations. Elsewhere, such as in Tanzania and the United Kingdom, pharmacy technicians are required to be registered with the national regulatory council.
With the appropriate amount of training and experience, pharmacy technicians may be promoted to supervisory roles, may seek specialization (e.g., oncology, nuclear pharmacy), or may pursue further education and training to become a pharmacist. Some technicians gain specialized skills in sterile products admixture, pharmacy automation, and health information systems. An ASHP survey of pharmacy practice managers in August 2009 revealed 56 percent of organizations offer career advancement opportunities for technicians. In an ASHP survey of pharmacy technicians, 81 percent indicated they expect to perform duties of a pharmacy technician for five or more years.
Online pharmacy tech programs are proliferating to meet the growing demand for the profession. They offer students a great deal of flexibility that can facilitate their education to a great degree. For instance, you might even work as a pharmacy tech while pursuing your formal education in your off hours. When you research programs, look for a few specific things:
Most programs allow students to gain clinical experience during their training. Depending on state laws, students may also choose to gain on-the-job training without enrolling in a postsecondary education program. Clinical experience may take the form of a structured training program at a retail drugstore that has partnered with the school. Another option is to complete hands-on training at an approved pharmacy or medical center.