Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or other health professionals. To find a great job as pharmacy tech, you should have strong knowledge in areas such as pharmaceutical terminology, proper drug administration, drug classifications, and pharmacy management.
Education requirements: Most states regulate pharmacy technicians. The process may require applicants to pass an exam or complete a formal education or Pharmacy Technician training program.
- Mean annual salary: $32,170
- Mean hourly wage: $15.47
- Employment: 398,390 jobs
- Highest levels of employment in: Pharmacies/drugstores, health and personal care stores (192,290 jobs)
- Expected growth: 9% from 2014 to 2024
- Top-paying industry: Federal executive branch (mean salary $42,710)
Approximately 70% of the 350,000 pharmacy technicians in the United States are employed in the retail setting. Pharmacy technicians in this setting help dispense approximately 2.5 billion prescriptions per year.
Responsibilities for chain pharmacy technicians include processing customer prescription data, filling and labeling medications, managing inventory, answering phone calls, dealing with insurance companies, and distributing medications to customers.
In some states, technicians may be responsible for taking new and refill prescription orders over the phone and transferring prescriptions between pharmacies.
Independent pharmacies represent approximately 40% of all community pharmacies in the United States and employee thousands of pharmacy technicians nationwide. Responsibilities are similar to those in the chain setting, but may also include compounding, filling specialty packaging, and delivering medications directly to patients.
Approximately 17% of all pharmacy technicians work in a hospital setting. Responsibilities include interpreting written prescription orders, performing pharmacy calculations, compounding medications, refilling automated medication dispensers, medication reconciliation, and delivering medications to patients within the hospital.
Becoming certified will make you more competitive to gain employment as a hospital pharmacy technician.
Health insurance plans and pharmacy benefit managers both employ pharmacy technicians to ensure high-quality services. Common duties include interacting with customers about offered pharmacy services, reviewing prior authorization requests, claims adjudication, and providing ongoing education and training to physician’s offices and facilities.
Less than 10% of pharmacy technicians work in the managed care setting.
In nuclear pharmacy, technicians are trained and certified in handling and preparing radioactive medications. Roles for technicians in this setting include performing mathematical calculations, compounding, labeling, inventory management, and ensuring that radiopharmaceuticals are safely handled and transported.
Less than 1% of pharmacy technicians have the required specialized training to work in a nuclear pharmacy.
The pharmaceutical industry develops, produces, and markets drugs. In this setting, responsibilities may include triage and coordination of drug information requests, assisting with literature searches, writing drug information documents, and other quality assurance processes.
Local, state, and federal government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Veterans Administration, Indian Health Service, and Armed Forces all require the expertise of skilled pharmacy technicians.
In these settings, technicians can engage in a number of tasks, including receiving and reviewing prescriptions, inventory management of drug products and pharmaceutical supplies, medication replenishment in automated pharmacy dispensing systems, compounding, and dispensing medications to patients.
Other careers options for pharmacy technicians can be found in mail-order pharmacy, home infusion, poison control, and academia.