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Pharmacy Technician

Career Overview

Pharmacy technicians work alongside a pharmacist helping to provide medication and any other health products in the shop. For prescribed medication a pharmacy technician will count out pills and prepare bottle labels.

A pharmacy technician may handle phone traffic and sales transactions at the cash register. Additional tasks may include stocking shelves and tracking inventory. The allowable tasks for pharmacy technicians vary from state to state. In some states, technicians may receive prescriptions and fill them subject to the pharmacist's approval. They may also keep patient records and bill insurance companies.

Education

Some states require formal training for pharmacy technicians. Formal education in the field is definitely a plus; some pharmacists have neither the time nor inclination to train technicians on the job.

Education topics include medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, recordkeeping, techniques, and pharmacy law. Technicians also are required to learn medication names, actions, uses, and doses.

There are two national certifying bodies; some states and employers require certification and some do not. It's worth pursuing when entering the field.

Current Employment

There were 285,000 pharmacy technicians in the U.S. in 2006. Seventy one percent of these jobs were in retail pharmacies; eighteen percent were in hospitals. The balance were with mail order pharmacies or in government positions.

Job Outlook

Pharmacy technicians entering the field over the next few years will have good prospects. Experience is important in this field, so some sort of internship or clinical field work while going through an educational program is well worthwhile.

Salary Range

Lowest 10%  $8.90  $18,520
Median Salary  $12.85  $26,720
Highest 10%  $18.37  $38,210

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