According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pharmacy Technicians receive written or electronic prescription requests from patients and then verify that the information on the prescription is complete and accurate. To prepare the prescription, technicians retrieve, count, pour, weigh, measure, and sometimes mix the medication. Then they prepare the prescription labels, select the type of container, and affix the prescription and auxiliary labels to the container. Once the prescription is filled, technicians price and file the prescription, which must be checked by a pharmacist before it is given to the patient. Technicians may also establish and maintain patient profiles, as well as prepare insurance claim forms.
Although the majority of pharmacy technicians work in retail pharmacies, there are also job opportunities available in other settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, pharmaceutical warehouses, mail order pharmacies, research labs, as well as federal agencies (e.g. Food and Drug Administration).
There is also opportunity for pharmacy technicians to specialize in one area such as chemotherapy or nuclear medicine. Those with strong performance records in larger-size companies may be promoted to supervisory roles such as Senior Pharmacy Technician, although they will still be under the direct supervision of pharmacists. Another avenue of career growth is for pharmacy technicians to continue their education to become a pharmacist (typically through a five year undergraduate program).
As noted, pharmacy technicians work in a variety of settings. They often have scattered schedules with evenings, weekend and holiday work often required, especially within health care settings, such as hospitals, that are open 24 hours. Physical stamina is important as the work requires standing for long periods, along with the ability to sometimes lift heavy boxes of medication and using stepladders to retrieve supplies from higher shelves. It is also important that someone in this position exhibit excellent customer service skills. You will be spending a lot of time interacting with customers, so being helpful and polite are required. Attention to detail is another important characteristic for a pharmacy technician to have. This will help to avoid any errors in filling prescriptions which can lead to complications and serious health issues for customers taking the medications filled by pharmacy technicians.
Training and Registration Requirements
As per the Florida State Board of Pharmacy (FBP), any person who wishes to work as a pharmacy technician in the State of Florida must register with the Board of Pharmacy. To register with the Board of Pharmacy, you must submit the following:
- Pharmacy Technician Registration Application
- $105.00 Registration Fee
- Proof that you have completed a board-approved pharmacy technician training program.
You can learn more about the registration process by reading the document Pharmacy Technician Registration Application and Instructions, browse a list of FBP-approved pharmacy technician programs, and read answers to Frequently Asked Questions provided by FBP.
With all other factors being equal, employers tend to hire pharmacy technician candidates who have certification and formal training. Training programs for pharmacy technicians can be found at vocational schools and community colleges which award certificates. These programs typically take one year or less to complete and cover a variety of subjects including math, recordkeeping, pharmacy laws and ethics, pharmaceutical-medical terminology, and medical labeling. Many training programs also include a clinical component during which students will have the opportunity to work in a pharmacy setting under supervision of Pharmacist.
The cost of training will vary depending upon the school and type of degree you wish to attain. You can earn a diploma from Southeastern College in two and a half semesters (18 months) at a cost of about $18,480. An associate’s degree from the same institution will cost about $33,264 and take 2 years to complete.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) both offer certification. Passing the exam through either of the above will provide you with the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).
Continuing Education Requirements
Per the Florida Department of Health, beginning on January 1, 2013 registered Pharmacy Technicians are required to complete 20 hours of continuing education (CE) within the 24 month period prior to the expiration date of their license in order to renew their license. Four hours of the CE must be via live presentation and 2 hours related to the prevention of medication errors. To renew your license, you must also pay a $55 biennial (every 2 years) renewal fee.
You can read more about the renewal process in the document provided by FBP.
Salary for Pharmacy Technicians
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 the national median annual salary for pharmacy technicians was $28,400. As per Salary.com, the median annual salaries for Pharmacy Technicians-Level 1 (Entry-level) in major cities in Florida are slightly higher than the national median.
As the aging of the population continues to grow with new families of drugs being introduced on a fairly regular basis, greater numbers of people are using prescription medication to treat illness and disease. In tandem with this trend, cost-minded health insurance providers are calling upon pharmacists to expand their role into direct patient care and education. Pharmacists, in turn, are relying upon pharmacy technicians to meet the increased demand for medications while maintaining high levels of safety and accuracy. Arising from this, there will continue to be a strong demand for pharmacy technicians.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field of pharmacy technician is expected to increase by 31% from 2008 to 2016, reflecting a much faster rate of growth than the average for all occupations. For more information including links to pharmacy technician job opportunities, certification programs, education, events, and research check the following websites;
Ready to move forward towards a career as a Pharmacy Technician? Review our list of Pharmacy Technician training programs in Florida. To find a school near you, enter the name of your city in the search box at the top of the page.