If you’ve researched other roles within the healthcare industry, you’ll know the biggest unifying theme between all of them is the end result of helping people. Choosing a pharmacy technician career goal is no different, as you’ll be helping people, but there are other good reasons for pursuing this career field. Here are just a couple to consider:
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Your formal training will include laboratory and clinical work with live animals. If you are a high school student who is interested in this field, make sure to take science classes such as biology, as well as math classes. You should also consider volunteering at a veterinarian's office or an animal shelter, where you can get experience and find out if you enjoy working in this environment.
Certification is not required in some states, but most employers prefer pharmacy techs to be certified. An online pharmacy tech certification program needs to provide comprehensive training to prepare a student to sit for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) exam. Those interested in National Healthcareer Association (NHA) certification must have at least one year of work experience, which can be acquired through an externship program offered by the school.
Since you’ll be required to work with computers, software and financial transactions in your dealings with the public, learning some accounting principles—specifically billing and reimbursement—will come in handy. Consider taking a mathematics course. Understanding patient maintenance software, pharmaceutical software and prescription processing software will also give you an advantage. Learn about data management and take a course in Microsoft Excel to further give yourself an edge.
"Medical technician'' means a health care worker who is not licensed or registered by a New Hampshire regulatory board and who assists licensed health care professionals in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. For the purposes of this chapter, medical technicians shall be limited to health care workers with access to controlled substances and with access to or contact with patients in a health care facility or in a medical establishment.
Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists by performing duties such as measuring and analyzing the quality of food and agricultural products. Duties range from performing agricultural labor with added recordkeeping duties to laboratory testing with significant amounts of office work, depending on the particular field the technician works in.
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Students interested in a more comprehensive educational experience can enroll in a pharmacy technician associate degree program. Although a degree is not required to apply for entry-level positions, some students choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree so they can advance in their careers and apply for jobs as a compounding lab technician, pharmacy service technician, pharmacy implementation specialist or similar roles. Earning an associate degree can also help a student prepare for a Bachelor of Pharmacy or a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Angela Loo is an Administrative Healthcare Professional and Nationally Certified Pharmacy Technician with over 12 years of experience in Pharmacy. She holds a Master’s Degree in Business, a Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Administration, and an Associate of Science degree. A PCC Alum, during her time as a student at PCC’s Sylvania Campus Angela was part of PCC’s ROOTS Program, and was honored to receive both the PCC Foundation Scholarship and Coca-Cola Scholarship Foundation awards. She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa and Sigma Beta Delta honor societies.
Job growth for pharmacy technicians is expected to be roughly 20 percent from 2012 through 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand for experienced and skilled pharmacy technicians is expected to stay strong as consumers live longer and increasingly turn to pharmacists for prescription medication to manage chronic diseases and take care of aging-related health issues.
Pharmacy technician employment is anticipated to develop quickly because of a growing use of medications as a treatment for patients. Additionally, a larger amount of middle-aged and elderly people — who typically take more prescription drugs than those that are younger — will drive the need for technicians in all practice surroundings. View technician employment trends from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists, who must review prescriptions before they are given to patients. In most states, technicians can compound or mix some medications and call physicians for prescription refill authorizations. Technicians also may need to operate automated dispensing equipment when filling prescription orders.
Most technicians are certified — the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) is earned by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) — and have completed several hundred hours of on-the-job training in order to be able to work with different prescription drugs, understand pharmacy operations and protocol, and abide by ethical standards. Basic job duties include dosing medications and filling prescription orders, taking care of administrative tasks, and handling basic customer service duties at the counter. Some pharmacy techs lead a team of pharmacy staff members as a lead pharmacy technician. Others may be responsible for managing supply and inventory or providing pertinent information to other healthcare professionals.
Food science technicians who work in manufacturing investigate new production or processing techniques. They also ensure that products will be fit for distribution or are produced as efficiently as expected. Many food science technicians spend time inspecting foodstuffs, chemicals, and additives to determine whether they are safe and have the proper combination of ingredients.
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