Retail pharmacy techs are in the public eye and deal directly with patients who need medications and advice to enhance their quality of life. Where a hospitalized patient might ask a drug-related question of her doctor, in this setting the pharmacy tech is likely to be asked about the administration of a particular medication, such as correct dosages and should the medication be taken with food or on an empty stomach. When questions extend the scope of knowledge for you as a tech, you will then relay the question to the pharmacist for the correct answer. In the retail world you will also need to maintain inventories. Unlike a hospital, you will only have the main pharmacy inventory to maintain, rather than multiple Omnicell machines in addition to the primary supply area.
According to the BLS, 91% of veterinary technicians work in veterinary offices, clinics and other facilities that provide veterinary services. A smaller number of veterinary technicians work in animal shelters, zoos and research facilities. Many veterinary technicians get their start by taking paid internships with animal health care facilities, which are often available to recent graduates of accredited veterinary technology educational programs.
Boeing projects the Asia Pacific region will need hundreds of thousands of new pilots and technicians Boeing projects the Asia Pacific region will continue to lead the globe in demand for hundreds of thousands of new commercial airline pilots and maintenance technicians to support expanding demand for new airplane deliveries over the next two decades.
Some veterinary technicians decide to specialize in a certain area. According to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), an academy is a group of veterinary technicians who have received formal, specialized training, testing and certification in an area. The recognized academies include specialties in dental technology, anesthesia, internal medicine, emergency and critical care, behavior, zoological medicine, and equine veterinary nursing.
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.
Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians in the care of animals. They may perform an initial evaluation of the animal's condition, clean and wrap wounds, check vital statistics, collect samples and administer medication. They also perform basic lab work, including urinalysis and blood tests, and may assist with procedures such as teeth cleaning.
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.
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.
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.
As the job description expands, career opportunities increase, and the outlook for employment as a pharmacy technician is very strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, with a large percentage of the population aging the field is expected to increase by 12 percent through 2026, which is faster than average. This means that now is an excellent time to become a pharmacy technician. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Pharmacy technicians who work in retail or mail-order pharmacies have various responsibilities, depending on state rules and regulations. Technicians receive written prescription requests from patients and perform medication reconciliation. They also may receive prescriptions sent electronically from doctors’ offices, and in some states they are permitted to process requests by phone. They must verify that the information on the prescription is complete and accurate. To prepare the prescription, technicians retrieve, count, pour, weigh, measure, and sometimes mix the medication. Then they prepare the prescription labels, select the type of 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, as well as prepare insurance claim forms. Technicians always refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist.
In Ghana, a 2009 assessment of pharmaceutical human resources identified a total of 1,637 practicing pharmacists (1 per 14,400 population), 918 practising pharmacy Technicians/Technologists (1 per 25,600), and 1,642 medicine counter assistants (1 per 14,300). Nearly half (45%) of pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers across the country reported having one or more vacancies for pharmaceutical personnel, including 82% of public sector facilities.
An individual enrolled in a technician training course or program, or an individual who has not previously worked as a pharmacy technician and who accepts technician employment in an Iowa pharmacy, must register as a pharmacy technician trainee within 30 days of starting technician training or employment. A technician trainee must become a nationally certified pharmacy technician within 12 months of starting technician employment or training.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for pharmacy technicians in 2016 was $30,920, which is $14.86 per hour. Salaries can range depending on where you work. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,370. The highest 10 percent, more than $45,710, with the highest earners typically working in general medical center and surgical hospitals.
The comprehensive two-year program covers topics in pharmacy operations, pharmacology and advanced administration, and may include an externship component. Students take a series of general courses in mathematics, science, psychology, humanities, and English, in addition to pharmacy- and medical-specific courses to fulfill degree requirements. Graduates of this program can process medication orders, have extensive knowledge about pharmacy law as it applies to filling prescriptions, and demonstrate fundamental knowledge of medical terminology.
Two organizations offer certification. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification requires a high school diploma and the passing of an exam. Applicants for the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) certification must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, and have completed a training program or have 1 year of work experience. Technicians must recertify every 2 years by completing 20 hours of continuing education courses.
The State Library has provided access to LearningExpress Library which includes resources to help a pharmacy technician prepare for the national certification exams. Practice tests include immediate scoring, complete answer explanations, and an individualized analysis of results. To access these resources, go to www.statelibraryofiowa.org and click on Log in to Online Resources > LearningExpress > Career Center > Prepare for Occupation Exam > Prepare for Pharmacy Technician Certification.