Pharmacy technician

Pharmacy technician

Pharmacy technicians work under the general supervision of an accredited pharmacist and make many pharmacy-related tasks. They refer any enquiries regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist.

Pharmacy techs work in an extensive variety of practice settings, including community pharmacies, hospitals, the military, in-home health care settings, long term care facilities, mail service pharmacies, managed health care organizations, and instructive programs. They also make administrative tasks, such as answering phones, stocking shelves, and operating cash registers.

Pharmacy technicians who engage in retail or mail-order pharmacies have varying tasks, depending on State rules and procedures. Technicians obtain written remedies or requests for remedy refills from patients. They also may obtain prescriptions sent by e-mail from the doctor's office.

They must confirm that information on the prescription is total and exact. To prepare the remedy, technicians must retrieve, calculate, pour, weigh, evaluate, and occasionally mix the medication. Then, they prepare the remedy labels, choose the type of prescription container, and affix the prescription and supplementary labels to the container.

Once the remedy is filled, technicians price and file the prescription, which must be verified by a pharmacist before it is given to the patient. Technicians may establish and preserve patient profiles, prepare insurance claim forms, and stock and take inventory of remedy and over-the-counter medications.

Education and training

Although most pharmacy technicians obtain informal on-the-job training, employers prefer those who have concluded formal training and certification. However, there are presently few State and no Federal requirements for formal training or certification of pharmacy technicians.

Employers who have deficient resources to offer on-the-job training frequently look for formally educated pharmacy technicians. Formal education programs and certification give emphasis to the technician's interest in and enthusiasm to the work. In addition to the military, some hospitals, proprietary schools, vocational or technical colleges, and community colleges present formal education programs.

Formal pharmacy technician education programs require classroom and laboratory work in a diversity of areas:
  • Medical and pharmaceutical terminology
  • Pharmaceutical calculations
  • Pharmacy recordkeeping
  • Pharmaceutical techniques
  • Pharmacy law and ethics.
Technicians also are important to learn medication names, actions, uses, and doses. Many training programs contain internships, in which students increase hands-on experience in actual pharmacies. After completion, students obtain a diploma, a certificate, or an associate's degree, depending on the program.


Median hourly earnings of wage-and-salary pharmacy technicians in October 2007 were $14.32. The middle 50 percent earned between $10.20 and $15.02. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.56, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $16.65.

Median hourly earnings in the industries providing work for the largest numbers of pharmacy technicians in October 2007 were:

General medical and surgical hospitals $13.86
Grocery stores $12.78
Pharmacies and drug stores $11.50