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Pharmacy Technician: Job Description, Salary, Training, Certification
Pharmacy technicians assist licensed pharmacists in providing prescription drugs to patients by preparing, measuring, and labeling medications. Further, they deal with patient inquiries, and perform important clerical tasks at the pharmacy.
Simply put, pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists fill prescriptions. A qualified pharmacy tech needs to know much more than how to count medication. As their role expands, pharmacy technician career opportunities increase, and the outlook for employment in the field is very strong. This means that now is an excellent time to become a pharmacy technician.
Pharmacy Technician Career Outlook
The need for pharmacy techs is increasing. Retailers are expanding their pharmaceutical services, and scientific advancements continue.
Job opportunities for pharmacy technicians are expected to be good, especially for those with previous experience, formal training, or certification. Job openings will result from employment growth, as well as the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.
Pharmacy Technician Salary
Median hourly wages of wage and salary pharmacy technicians in May 2008 were $15.32. The middle 50 percent earned between $12.95 and $17.88. This translates to about $27,000 to $37,000 per year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.27, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $20.98 ($42,000/year)
Median hourly wages of wage and salary pharmacy aides were $9.66 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.47 and $11.62. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.69, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $14.26.
Certified technicians may earn more than non-certified technicians. Some technicians and aides belong to unions representing hospital or grocery store workers.
Pharmacy Technician Training
There are currently no state or federal regulations governing training programs, but employers favor pharmacy technicians who have received certificates or associate's degrees from community or technical colleges. Choose a program that provides in-depth training that can increase your salary and pharmacy tech career options. Most programs take less than a year to complete. Shorter programs may not give you enough training to pass the certification exam.
Pharmacy Technician Certification
Graduates from formal training programs are prepared to take the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, which verifies that the pharmacy technician has met an acceptable standard of pharmaceutical knowledge. A certified technician needs to be re-certified every two years and must complete a certain number of training hours to be eligible. Read more about pharmacy technician certification.
Steps to Become a Pharmacy Technician
If you want to become a pharmacy technician, here is a simple outline of what it takes:
Find a top pharmacy tech program. Right here is the best place to start. Nowadays you can study online or in a classroom. Review our list of pharmacy technician schools and choose the best pharmacy technician school for you.
Take the pharmacy technician certification exam. Exams are given in virtually every state. All you need to do is sign up. You can take the pharmacy technician test as often as needed until you pass.
Interview for pharmacy tech jobs. With so many opportunities, it's easy to find the best pharmacy technician job for you. Decide what is most important to you: salary, benefits, hours, location. There are plenty of online resources for pharmacy technician jobs, or you can simply apply at the pharmacies near you.
Keep your certification current. After becoming a certified pharmacy tech, you must complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years. Employers will usually cover the cost of your continuing education.
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An online accredited degree program is a convenient way for you get the knowledge you need for your field, make the jump into a more lucrative field, or simply build credibility and value with future employers.