Pharmacy Technician

Accredited Pharmacy Technician, Billing and Quality Technician   More Names
Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT), Compounding Technician, Drug Coordinator, Lead Pharmacy Tech, Certified Pharmacy Technician (Lead Pharmacy Tech, CPhT), Lead Pharmacy Technician (Lead Pharmacy Tech), Pharmacist Assistant, Pharmacist Technician, Pharmacy Laboratory Technician, Pharmacy Technician (Pharmacy Tech), Pharmacy Technicians, Pharmacy Technologist, Senior Pharmacy Technician, Technician, Technician, Inventory Specialist

Prepare medications under direction of a pharmacist, serve customers, and perform related tasks. Technical duties include receiving written or electronic patient prescriptions and helping fill orders for medicines.

Customer service duties involve greeting customers, answering telephones and operating cash registers. Related tasks include preparing insurance claim forms, listing and properly storing arriving new goods, and cleaning and up-keeping pharmacy work areas and equipment.

Pharmacy technicians work anywhere pharmacists do, including retail, hospital, and clinic pharmacies as well as home health, managed care, and mail order pharmacies. They also have jobs in the education, scientific research, and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries. Wherever they work, pharmacy technicians must be precise and accurate in all technical and clerical aspects of their job. Pharmacy technicians are prohibited from performing tasks that require the professional knowledge and skill of the pharmacist or that are restricted by state law only to a pharmacist.

Pharmacy technicians working in retail or mail-order pharmacies make sure that written or printed information on a prescription is complete and correct. When assisting the pharmacist in filling a prescription, they have to get, count, pour, weigh, measure, and sometimes mix the medication. Then they need to prepare the prescription label, select the right kind of container, and put the prescription label and any instructions on the container.

Once a prescription medication is ready, pharmacy technicians have to first price the filled order for the customer, and then file the prescription in the pharmacy's records. The pharmacist checks all these steps for accuracy and completeness before the filled medication can be given to the customer. Pharmacy technicians also may be asked to complete and file patient profiles and help fill out insurance claim forms. They can be asked to help give answers to routine customer questions about their medicines, prescriptions or overall health, but they must refer to the pharmacist more difficult or detailed questions.

Pharmacy technicians need good customer service and communications skills. Basic mathematics, reading, and spelling skills also are very important because they must accurately understand prescription orders and be able to precisely measure the right doses.

When working in hospitals, nursing homes or assisted-living facilities, pharmacy technicians can have added duties, such as preparing sterile solutions or delivering patient medications to nurses or physicians. They may also assist in the collecting, recording, and filing patient background and treatment information and with insurance forms.

Pharmacy technicians may be assisted in some of their customer service and clerical duties by pharmacy aides. When pharmacy aides are employed to help pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, such pharmacy aides may perform tasks like answering telephones, stocking shelves, or operating cash registers. Unlike pharmacy technicians, pharmacy aides cannot help with preparing prescriptions or mixing medications.

The career pathway for a pharmacy technician may include promotion to a supervisory position, advancement to a specialty such as nuclear pharmacy technician, or seeking more formal training to become a pharmacist.

Credentials Needed: Some states require that pharmacy technicians be formally licensed to practice, but the majority requires registration with a state pharmacy board. This often includes meeting conditions such as a minimum age standard, evidence of a high school diploma or GED equivalent, passing a criminal background check, no history of alcohol or substance abuse, and paying an application fee. To check what your state may require regarding licensing or other credentials for pharmacy technicians, use the Pharmacy Technician Requirements by State link under the "Resources" section for this career.

Voluntary industry-skill certification for pharmacy technicians is available through two private organizations. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) sponsors and administers the national PTCB exam which is accepted for meeting licensure or registration criteria by 36 states. Once a candidate passes the PTCB exam, he or she may use the designation of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).

Alternatively, the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) sponsors and administers the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT). Once a candidate passes the ExCPT exam, he or she is again entitled to the CPhT designation. In general, both the PTCB and ExCPT exams are designed to measure and benchmark the knowledge and skills of aspiring pharmacy technicians.

Some Key Things to Remember: Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of one or more pharmacists. Most employers prefer to hire pharmacy technicians who have a postsecondary credential, but some may train for this profession with a high school credential or less. Most jobs are in retail settings such as drug stores or chain grocery stores with pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics. The career pathway for a pharmacy technician may include promotion to a supervisory position, advancement to a specialty such as nuclear pharmacy technician, or seeking more formal training to become a pharmacist.

More Details
Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
9% - Average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $25,170 - $37,780    Hourly: $12 - $18
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

No specifc requirement is identified at this time.

Legal Requirements
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

High School or GED (HS)
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Percent Job Growth:

9% - Average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $25,170 - $37,780

Hourly: $12 - $18