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Technicians work under the supervision of licensed pharmacists, helping them fulfill prescriptions. The technician is a bit of a “jack of all trades.” He or she will perform numerous tasks, including preparing, compounding and dispensing medications, taking medication orders and accepting payments from customers. All drugs are checked before they are sold by the licensed pharmacist on-staff, but the tech has a major role to play in the process. In short, they take care of (to a large degree) a pharmacy’s operational management duties. Individuals that want to become a technician may want to consider enrolling in pharmacy tech training programs.
The vast majority of pharmacy techs (75%) work in retail pharmacies. These types of pharmacies can be found independently, inside grocery stores and drug store chains. A smaller percentage (16%), work in hospitals. The U.S. Government, online pharmacies, wholesalers, clinics and mail order facilities, hire the remaining pharmacy techs.
Required Degrees or Certifications
The educational and certification requirements will differ from state to state and from facility to facility. There are no federal guidelines and most pharmacies don’t have certification and/or educational requirements, though many do prefer to hire those that are certified.
Those interested in receiving training for a career in this field can do so via pharmacy technician training programs found at technical schools and community colleges. Some hospitals also provide training programs.
Most training programs will generally prepare students to take certain professional examinations. Two of the primary professional exams are the ExCPT and the PTCE. The ExCPT is offered by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technician and the PTCE is issued by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. Once an individual has received their certification, they are referred to as a CPhT which is short for Certified Pharmacy Technician.
As mentioned above, not every state requires certification but some do. Oftentimes, pharmacies are allowed to first hire techs and then require that they receive their certification.
Career Outlook and Pay
The future of employment for professionals in this field looks promising. Health care workers, at all levels, are in high demand. This is because there are more people that need health care than there are people to provide it.