What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do? Exploring the Work of the Friendly Face Behind the Counter
Are you interested in pursuing a rewarding career that helps others, but don’t know where to start? If you are exploring a career change, a new certification or a degree, it’s crucial to examine your options and choose something that fits your lifestyle and your talents.
If working in the medical field appeals to you, but you would prefer a faster entry route, being a pharmacy technician is worth looking into. As a pharmacy tech you will be able to enjoy the many benefits of being involved in the medical field, but without having to spend several years working your way through college coursework.
Why should I consider a pharmacy tech career?
The job outlook for pharmacy techs is promising, as pharmacy technician jobs are becoming increasingly available. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), factors like an aging population in need of increased medical care, a growing number of individuals with health insurance, and the new responsibilities of pharmacists could increase employment of pharmacy technicians. In fact, the BLS projects employment of pharmacy technicians to grow by nine percent—which is faster than the national average for all other occupations.
Pay could be another appeal for a career as a pharmacy technician. While the salary specifics will vary depending on work environment—for example, a private hospital setting versus a drugstore or grocery store pharmacy—full-time pharmacy technicians can earn anywhere between $28,700 and $35,830 annually.1
But what exactly does a pharmacy technician do every day, and what exactly does it take to do the job well? Let’s explore what daily life looks like for a pharmacy tech so you can decide if pursuing this career is right for you.
Administrative and clerical duties
A pharmacy tech job involves both administrative and clerical duties as well as customer service, all of which is always supervised by a pharmacist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines a pharmacy technician as someone who works under the supervision of a pharmacist to prepare medications for customers. This includes measuring, mixing, counting, labeling and recording dosages of medications from prescription orders. Much of a pharmacy technician’s work is clerical. Obtaining patient information, data entry, filing and dealing with prescription orders are all major aspects of the work. A pharmacy tech might also be responsible for supply management in the office and ensuring the organization and cleanliness of a pharmacy environment.
Working with people plays a major part in every pharmacy technician’s role. In addition to working closely with pharmacists who supervise their work, pharmacy techs also work closely with customers who need medication and the healthcare professionals who prescribe them. Pharm techs are frequently the first point of contact for customer questions, from phone calls to prescription pick-ups, though specific questions about medications are typically referred to the pharmacist. A pharmacy tech might also deal with insurance companies to process claims, since the majority of medication is billed to insurance.
Tools and technology used
Technology and other tools are another major aspect of a career as a pharmacy technician. It’s no secret that precision and detail are highly important in counting, measuring and filling prescriptions. Because of this, pharmacy techs work with tools like auger filling machines, laboratory balances, blenders and emulsifiers and laboratory mills.
Technology you might work with in a pharmacy includes basic accounting software to process payments, medical software for obtaining health and prescription information, database software to manage customers’ prescriptions and label-making machines.
The pharmacy work environment
Pharmacy techs work in a fast-paced, highly efficient customer service environment, so there are a number of skills that would be of value. In addition to basic medical knowledge, it is crucial for pharmacy technicians to possess good communication skills, as they work closely with pharmacists and customers alike to ensure precision in every order. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are also important for this role, as is the ability to work well under pressure without constant supervision.
Now you know
Now that you know more about what pharmacy technicians do, you may be interested in pursuing a pharmacy technician career. The good news is that unlike some healthcare-related jobs, becoming a pharmacy technician doesn’t have to take years. In fact, Rasmussen College’s Pharmacy Technician Certificate program can be completed in as few as nine months.2 This means a rewarding healthcare career may be more attainable than you ever realized.
If you’d like to learn more about the upside of becoming a pharmacy technician, check out our article, “6 Benefits of Becoming a Pharmacy Technician.”
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1Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Time to complete is dependent on accepted transfer credits and courses completed each quarter.