What Are the Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Technician?

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Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in their general duties, performing some of the more clerical work and therefore freeing up pharmacists to do more specialized duties. In general, pharmacy technicians do things like label bottles, count tablets, receive prescription requests, and perform other duties as specified by the particular area they work in and in some cases on state rules and regulations.

For these types of pharmaceutical jobs, pharmacy technicians receive prescription information directly from customers, and in some cases prescription information is sent directly from the doctors' offices they work with, too. They are responsible for verifying that this information is accurate, complete and correct; they may also prepare the prescription under the pharmacist's direction, counting, measuring, or otherwise weighing or mixing the medication. They also prepare the prescription labels and select the container, a fixing any labels necessary to the prescription container. They also price the prescription; after that, the pharmacist must check the accuracy of this work before the prescription is given to the patient.

Pharmacy technicians may also assemble and maintain patient profiles, and take care of insurance claim forms. However, these pharmaceutical jobs do not include having the technician answer any direct questions about drug information, prescriptions, or other related health matters themselves; instead, the technician refers these questions to a pharmacist.

Education and Other Requirements for this type of Pharmaceutical Job

Pharmacy technicians don't need to undergo any type of formal training, but certification, formal training, and/or previous experience are pluses when it comes to getting these types of pharmaceutical jobs. Many states, however, do require that pharmacy technicians have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. Pharmacy technicians do receive on-the-job training; this training lasts approximately 3 to 12 months, usually.

Formal pharmacy technician education programs are also available, and this can increase one's chances of getting this type of pharmaceutical job. National certification is available through the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. Most states also require that pharmacy technicians be registered with that state's board of pharmacy.

Further, those interested in being a pharmacy technician must not have had any felony convictions for any crime, and must have had no drug-related offenses whatsoever, even misdemeanors. Those pharmacy technicians undertaking certification must be recertified every two years, which includes a required 20 hours of continuing education during that two-year period.

Salary and Job Outlook

Job outlook for pharmacy technicians is very good, with employment expected to increase by 31% in the next few years. On average, as of 2008, pharmacy technicians made about $13 an hour.

Job prospects for pharmacy technicians for these types of pharmacy jobs are good specifically because health care providers will increasingly streamline processes; to that end, pharmacists are going to be taking on more of a patient-care role, while technicians will take over many of the duties both pharmacists and pharmacy aides previously fulfilled, assuming both the administrative duties pharmacy aides previously undertook, and taking on more direct responsibility in the pharmacy as well, by taking over some of the work previously only done by pharmacists.
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