In 2012, the mean annual income for a pharmacy technician in Delaware was $27,670, and the median hourly wage was $12.46, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, according to that federal agency, the demand for people with this job title is expected to grow by 20 percent in the 10-year period from 2012 to 2022. That’s faster than average for job growth, making the job of pharmacy technician one for people who, one, want a job with favorable employment prospects and, two, one that does not require a college degree.
Pharmacy Technician Job Duties
Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists. As such, their duties include verifying that the information on written prescriptions or refill requests is accurate; filling bottles with medications and printing and putting labels on the bottles; ensuring that medications are safe from harm and properly stored; determining the price of a prescription once it’s been filled; and keeping a record of filled prescriptions.
Among other duties are keeping a record of the medications each patient takes; keeping an inventory of medications and supplies and reordering them when necessary; and preparing medications (capsules, tablets, powders, suppositories, lozenges, solutions, ointments, creams, pastes and gels, etc.) by mixing ingredients according to the prescription, a process called compounding. Pharmacy technicians also answer phones and refer callers or in-store customers to a pharmacist who can answer their questions.
What tasks is a pharmacy technician legally allowed to perform?
Even though pharmacy technicians have many duties, everything they do is under the supervision of a pharmacist. No prescriptions they fill can be released without the approval of a pharmacist. In Delaware, pharmacy technicians can do almost everything a pharmacist does as long as the pharmacist has the last say. However, pharmacy technicians may not give medical advice to customers, change the dosages of prescriptions or authorize refill requests.
Pharmacy technicians work in drugstores and for wholesalers that make products for drugstores, in stores that sell general merchandise, in hospitals, in nursing homes, in rehab centers, for the U.S. military, in correctional facilities, at mail order pharmacies, in sales and marketing, in nuclear pharmacies and more.
In Delaware, pharmacy technicians are not required to be licensed. To be hired for this position, a person must be at least 18 years old. There are no minimum education requirements, although a high school diploma or a GED is strongly advised. Though licensing is not required in Delaware, getting certified boosts prospects for a career and makes advancing possible. To become certified, a candidate must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or a GED and have had training under a licensed pharmacist with documentation showing this training.
Passing either the ExCPT (Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians), which is presented by the National Healthcareer Association, or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), which is presented by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, grants certification to the test taker. People who pass the latter exam earn the CPhT certificate.
Pharmacy Technician Salary
Certified pharmacy technicians earn more than non-certified individuals. In general, those who work in large city hospitals make more than those who work in smaller cities or rural areas. In Wilmington, a pharmacy technician with more than four years of experience can make about $30,360 annually. In Dover, that figure is about $25,890. Individuals with experience who are in supervisory positions may make about $43,450 in Wilmington and $35,740 in Dover. Entry-level positions in those cities pay about $19,960 and $18,870, respectively.
Training to prepare for certification as a pharmacy technician is available at that state’s Delaware Technical Community College, which includes internships in a hospital and a retail setting. The National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA) offers an online course. Local, for-profit technical schools also offer courses. Other for-profit technical schools also offer online courses.
People who take training courses approved by the Delaware State Board of Pharmacy—an alternative to certification—can only do the tasks at the place where they work. Though there are no training requirements that pharmacy technicians in Delaware must take once they land a job, taking classes to stay on top of the latest trends and skills is a wise choice. Of course, some employers will require employees to take continuing education classes.