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What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
Pharmacists are commonly referred to as "the most accessible health care professional." This title is well-earned, for pharmacists do not require appointments, nor do you have to search further than your local drug store to find one. Pharmacy technicians are equally valuable to the public. They are responsible for helping pharmacists mix, measure, and dispense medications and handle the daily operations of the pharmacy. Pharmacy technicians have the duty to check the accuracy of the prescriptions patients bring in. They often call physicians for details or clarification, and also work to ensure that the prescription is authentic. Technicians also prepare the instructional and warning prescription labels that are placed on the outside of the medication container, prepare insurance forms, and update patient records. Yet, unlike pharmacists, pharmacy technicians do not answer any health or medicine-related inquiries. They must refer those questions to the pharmacist, who is allowed to give medical advice.
What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Pharmacy Technician?
Health care is one of the most prosperous and steadily growing fields in the job industry today. This is due to the fact that no matter what the economic climate is or what political issues are being debated, the need for health care professionals remains at a high. This is true in all aspects of health care, including pharmacy work. Pharmacy technicians in particular will see a boom in employment demand as medical advances introduce a flurry of new drugs into the market. More patients mean more prescriptions as well. With the population growing, there will be more patients seeing doctors, which in turn means more patients going to pharmacies for medication. Employment opportunities for pharmacy technicians are expected to grow 31 percent through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pharmacy technicians earn an average hourly wage of $13.32, according to the most current data available from the Bureau.
How Can I Become a Pharmacy Technician?
Although there are no formal education requirements for pharmacy technicians, many employers now prefer to hire applicants with at least an associate degree in science or another health-related field. An associate degree generally takes about two years to earn. During this time, students should take courses in medical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy recordkeeping, and other classes that will enhance their understanding of the inner workings of a pharmacy. Many technicians also learn the names and uses of the medications that are commonly dispensed at pharmacies. Most associate degree programs require students to participate in clinical work as well so that they may gain valuable hands-on working experiences with professionals in the field. Upon graduation, prospective pharmacy technicians should register with their state’s board of pharmacy. Certification is not necessary, but it is a good way to show possible employers that you are passionate about your job. Certification is available from organizations like the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT).