If you're considering a career as a pharmacy technician, you're probably wondering exactly what they do on a daily basis and what their job description entails. The fact is, pharmacy technicians complete a wide range of job functions in pharmacies or drug stores, hospitals and general merchandise stores. Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision or a pharmacist, and assist with duties such as taking the information required to fill a prescription, measuring medications according to prescription guidelines, packaging and labeling products, organizing medications and work spaces, and alerting the pharmacist to any shortage of medications or supplies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), pharmacy technicians also play a customer service role in their respective workplaces by answering the phone, answering questions for customers, entering customer information, and processing insurance claims.
Job prospects for pharmacy technicians
Because of our aging population and an overall increase in the use of prescription medications, the BLS projects that employment for pharmacy technicians will increase 20 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is categorized as much faster than the average. The BLS also predicts that pharmacy technicians may be required to take on more responsibilities in the future due to the evolving role of pharmacists. Pharmacy technicians may become responsible for several tasks that used to be performed by pharmacists only, including collecting patient information, preparing an increasing number of medications, and overseeing the tasks of other pharmacy technicians and employees.
Pharmacy technician salary information
The BLS reports that the median annual wage for pharmacy technicians was $29,650 nationally in 2013. During the same year, the top 10 percent of earners brought in at least $43,230, and the bottom 10 percent earned up to$20,640. The industries that paid the highest annual mean wage to pharmacy technicians in 2013 were:
- Federal executive branch: $40,890
- Outpatient care centers: $39,050
- Physician's offices: $37,780
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Career outlook for pharmacy technicians
Due to expanded access to health insurance and prescription medications, the BLS predicts that employment for pharmacy technicians will continue to grow. However, as the BLS notes, employment opportunities will be the most promising for those who have formal training, are certified, and have experience in retail pharmacy settings.
Because the need for medical care and prescription drugs is not determined by geographical location, pharmacy technicians will be needed in every part of the country. It's hard to determine which parts of the country might experience a surge in employment opportunities for pharmacy technicians, but the following states employed the most professionals in this field in 2013:
- California: 31,750
- Texas: 28,910
- Florida: 24,700
- Illinois: 18,510
- New York: 16,770
If you're interested in pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician or just want to learn more, you may wish to explore opportunities available at vocational and technical schools.
Pharmacy Technicians, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/current/oes292052.htm
Pharmacy Technicians, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm