phamacy technician

Preparing for a career as a Pharmacy Technician involves extensive training, good

communication skills, and a willingness to work with the public.

A pharmacy technician, also called pharmacy technologist, pharmacy medication

technicians, or pharmacy assistants, provide technical assistance for registered

pharmacists and work under their direct supervision. They usually work in a chain or

independent drug stores, hospitals, community ambulatory care centers, home health care

agencies, nursing homes, and in the pharmaceutical industry. They perform a wide range

of technical support functions and tasks relating to the pharmacy profession. They

maintain patient records, count, package, and label medication doses; prepare and

distribute sterile products; and fill and dispense routine orders for stock supplies such as

over-the-counter products. Pharmacy technicians work under the direct supervision of

licensed pharmacist, their work is subject to quality-control checks to ensure accuracy.

High school students interested in the pharmacy tech career should take courses

in mathematics, science (especially chemistry and biology), and English. Also, in

addition courses in speech, typing, computer science, and health will also be useful. Any

extracurricular activities such as: drama, science clubs, or other activities, will help in

developing communications and interpersonal skills. Most pharmacy technicians receive

their education through formal training programs offered through community colleges,

vocational/technical schools, hospital community pharmacies, and government programs.

The length of the program usually ranges from 6 months to two years, leading to a

certificate, diploma, or an associates degree in pharmacy technology. A high school

diploma is usually required for entry into these programs. On a personal level, pharmacy

technicians must be precision-minded, honest, and mature as they are very much

depended on. They must have good hand and eye coordination and manual dexterity to

use delicate equipment and to make correct measurements. They also need to have good

communication skills to successfully interact with pharmacists, supervisors and other

technicians. Pharmacy technicians are often hired by the hospital or agency where they

interned. If employment is not found this way, many use employment agencies or

newspaper ads to help locate job openings.

Technicians often wear scrubs or other uniforms in hospitals, especially in the IV

room. Other technicians may only be required to wear casual clothing. Pharmacy

technicians generally work in health care institutions that are clean and well-lighted.

They work under quiet to moderately noisy conditions. They work closely with

pharmacists and other pharmacy technicians and frequently interact with other

individuals. Pharmacy technicians may specialize in one area of responsibility, such as

drug dispensing and distribution, or they may handle a combination of responsibilities.

Since they may be required to fill in for other pharmacy technicians, they generally must

be trained in all aspects of pharmacy technology. Because most hospitals, nursing homes,

and health care centers are open between sixteen and twenty-four hours a day, multiple

shifts, weekend, and holiday hours will be required.

Most technicians earn between $14,500 to $21,000 per year. Large hospitals pay

more than retail pharmacies, averaging between $16,000 and $23,000. The average

starting pay rate for pharmacy technicians is between $6.50 and $15.00 per hour,

depending on the location, type of facility, and level of training. Graduates of accredited

training programs along with those who are certified, usually receive higher pay than

technicians without such training. Salaries are higher for those who live in the East and

West coasts, and in large urban areas. There is also no travel involved with career. States

with high numbers of retirees, such as Arizona, Florida, California, and New Mexico,

will offer more job opportunities because of the increased need for medical services.

Advancement opportunities for pharmacy technicians depend on where they are

employed, experienced technicians may direct or instruct newer pharmacy technicians,

make schedules, or move up to purchasing or computer work. Some hospitals have a

variety of tech designations, based on experience and responsibility, with an increase in

pay. Experienced technicians will be needed as staff. Some pharmacy techs may choose

to return to school to pursue a degree in pharmacy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics

projects that employment of pharmacy technicians will increase much faster than the

average for all occupations. The 54,000 pharmacy technician employed in 1992 are

expected to increase to 76,000 by 2005, an increase of nearly 42 percent. A number of

factors will support the increasing employment