A pharmacy technician is a health care professional that assists a pharmacist with the distribution of prescription medications in a retail or hospital setting. A technician’s responsibilities typically include data entry for customer prescription information, prescription bottle filling and labeling, specialty medication compounding, inventory management and receiving customer payments. Pharmacy technicians working as an inpatient hospital staff member perform different tasks from the retail environment. Medication orders generally come from nurses or medical personnel for patient rooms, the emergency room, operating room and outpatient facilities. In these cases, technicians have little contact with patients. Regardless of location, all pharmacy technician work must be approved by a licensed pharmacist.
In the state of Missouri, pharmacy technicians must register with the Missouri State Board of Pharmacy for licensure prior to employment. No prior education, training or certification is required. However, national certification can be helpful when applying for a position with a national retail pharmacy.
To obtain a license, applicants are subject to a fingerprint and background check. They must submit a notarized application to the state, pay a fee and provide a passport-style photo. Their license must be displayed in the pharmacy.
While it is not required in Missouri, pharmacy technicians can obtain certification by passing a computerized exam administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Preparation for the exam can be obtained through accredited courses or practice exams. Only a high school diploma and clean record are required to sit for the exam.
Continuing education is not necessary to maintain a position as a pharmacy technician. However, salaries can vary greatly dependent on education, skills and experience. Starting salaries are approximately $17,000 per year. The average annual salary earned in Missouri is $28,000. Hospital positions typically earn 20 to 25 percent more annually than retail pharmacy jobs. In addition, a premium is often paid for pharm techs that are certified in chemotherapy, IV sterile products and compounding.
Pharmacy technicians are needed at a variety of different companies. Government institutions, assisted living and long-term care facilities, hospitals, retail drug stores, urgent care clinics and pharmaceutical companies are some of the most common employers for this position.
Job descriptions vary because of the assortment of companies and their needs. Typical responsibilities include:
-Promote drug compliance.
-Data entry for patient information, prescription details.
-Communicate with patients, physicians, insurance companies, pharmacist, lab and other health care professionals.
-Work as part of a team in conjunction with a licensed pharmacist.
Additional requirements of the position include:
-Accuracy, attention to detail.
-Strong time management and organizational skills.
-Excellent math skills – especially in units of measure.
-Must stand for extended periods.
-Must have good manual dexterity.
-Clear close-up vision (not color blind).
-Maintain confidential information.
Law prohibits a pharmacy technician from dispensing medication without a pharmacist’s approval. Consultation with patients regarding medications must be performed by a licensed pharmacist, not a technician.
The role of a pharmacy technician is an integral part of any pharmacy. Assisting patients maintain the proper medication regimen for improved health care can be a rewarding career path. It is especially beneficial for those wishing to break into the field quickly with few advanced education requirements.