"One of the most challenging aspects [of the job] comes down to maintaining knowledge on all the changes that occur within the field," says Mike Johnston, chairman and CEO of the National Pharmacy Technician Association. "Pharmacy practice changes on a weekly basis with new generics and new drugs." Another challenge is interacting with patients who are "not always feeling their best," he says. "The majority of your customers that you're going to be dealing with are sick – whether it be a cold or sinus infection or a much more serious, chronic condition. So it takes a lot of compassion and empathy."
Hospital-based pharmacy technicians, for instance, work with IV medications and do a lot of laboratory preparation to ensure that patients receive exactly what they need. The lab work might also include extensive cleaning to ensure sterility and the safest possible pharmaceutical environment. Others in the hospital might be charged with maintaining the drug-dispensary machines that nurses rely on to retrieve medications at a moment’s notice.
The number of jobs for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 20 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand for qualified healthcare professionals is growing as the baby boomer population ages, seeking medications to treat common ailments, and as new prescription drugs are approved and released to the American public.
The number of vehicles in use is expected to continue to rise. More entry-level service technicians will be needed to perform basic maintenance and repair, such as replacing brake pads and changing oil, on these vehicles. New technologies, however, such as electric vehicles, may limit future demand for automotive service technicians and mechanics because these vehicles will be more reliable and thus require less frequent maintenance and repair.
Veterinary technicians usually have a 2-year associate’s degree in a veterinary technology program. They generally work in private clinical practices under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Technicians may perform laboratory tests, such as a urinalysis, and help veterinarians conduct a variety of other diagnostic tests. Although some of their work is done in a laboratory setting, many technicians also talk with animal owners. For example, they explain a pet’s condition or how to administer medication prescribed by a veterinarian.
Pharmacy technicians must take the lead in educating themselves on drug information and any major changes occurring in the industry. They may be required to read about drug studies, review pharmaceutical literature or produce reports about different prescription medications and dispensing activities. Since many work in busy retail drugstores or emergency rooms, they must also have strong organizational skills and be able to work in a fast-paced environment without making mistakes.
Registered Pharmacy Technicians in the NHS are responsible for the training and development of Pharmacy Support Workers; Senior Pharmacy Support Workers and Pre-Registration Trainee Pharmacy Technicians. Further training and qualifications after initial registration as a RPhT enable them to perform this mentoring role. Pharmacy Technicians in the UK (as with other countries e.g. Canada) are now referred to by some as professionals, although Registered Pharmacists are obviously considered experts in the Pharmaceutical field and RPhTs are subordinate to Pharmacists. The reference to pharmacy technicians as professionals has been subject to challenge.
Pharmacy technicians’ primary responsibility is dispensing prescription medication, which requires great attention to detail. Pharmacy techs must be able to measure, mix, dose and dispense appropriate amounts of medication based on the pharmacist’s orders. They may also be involved with data entry tasks to update patient records and fill prescription orders.
In order to receive a Full License from the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy, one must first pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) administers this exam and the issuing of certifications. When applying for a Certified License, you will be required to show proof of your PTCB certification.
Technicians work in a variety of settings, including laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices. Technicians who work in processing plants and agricultural settings may face noise from processing and farming machinery, extreme temperatures, and odors from chemicals or animals. They may need to lift and carry objects, and be physically active for long periods of time.