It is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of pharmacy technician jobs today, and that number is expected to increase by 25 percent over the next 5 to 10 years.
Working as a pharmacy technician or `PT` is one of the best jobs with which to enter the healthcare services industry without having a medical degree, and can be a very satisfying position with much room for advancement.
Depending on a person’s education and job experience it is possible to move into a variety of specialized employment positions with their qualifications, as there is much more to the job than simple retail sales at a drugstore or chemists.
Different Pharmacy Technician Jobs
Retail – This is the most known setting and position for most PTs. Technicians who are employed by retail pharmacy stores do a variety of jobs, which start with assisting the Registered Pharmacist or PharmD on duty but generally expand to many other duties that are typical in any retail environment.
Techs will count and prepare medications, do record keeping, inventory, ordering, stocking, insurance billing and records, and much more depending on the establishment and the need to do other tasks as well.
Depending on qualification and certification, sometimes pharmacy techs in a retail setting are also able to counsel consumers on the use of their prescribed medication as well. It is possible to obtain a job as a PT without any specialized education or training although more and more employers are beginning to require one or the other, or sometimes both.
Hospital – Every hospital has a pharmacy from where both outpatient prescriptions can be filled and inpatient medications are dispensed.
Working under the Pharmacist on duty, pharmacy technicians in a hospital setting are usually responsible for stocking, delivering and recording all medications that need to go to the different hospital departments, specially compounding medications for patients in the hospital and taking care of any and all medication requests throughout the hospital from other staff.
Knowing all hospital regulations in regard to the dispensing and handling of medications is a detailed yet essential part of the job as is being able to keep concise records for billing, inventory and legal purposes.
In-patient Care Facilities – Numerous types of inpatient care facilities such as rehabilitation centers, psychiatric hospitals and other facilities keep their own pharmacies as well, and require technicians to assist the Pharmacist on duty.
Pharmacy technician jobs usually entail inventory, stocking, ordering and recording of medications, preparing medication doses for patients, delivering daily medication doses to nursing stations, and most of the duties mentioned above as in any other hospital. Once again, record keeping and regulations are an extremely important part of the job for billing, inventory and legal purposes.
Medication Compounding – Certain pharmacies do not sell directly to the public, but instead create special medication mixes – called compounds – for other pharmacies and facilities.
In a compounding pharmacy, technicians are required to work under the supervision and guidance of the Pharmacist on duty in mixing medications as required by special orders, bulk orders for hospitals and facilities and other requests. Generally this work also involves great detail in record keeping, interpreting prescriptions, medication labeling and medication packing and shipping.
Obtaining Pharmacy Technician Jobs
The best way to get a job as a PT is to complete a training and education program for pharmacy techs. There are many of these programs available today lasting anywhere from 6 months to get a course certificate and basic education for a retail pharmacy setting to up to 2 years or more to become certified as a pharmacy technician and be able to advance to some of the more detailed positions mentioned above.
The best way to find out about schooling and any career requirements is to contact any local pharmacy technicians’ professional organizations in order to get recommendations and learn more about the career as a whole.