Pharmacy is a medical field that combines the principles of health science with chemical science. Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist to help patients receive safe and effective treatment through pharmaceutical drugs. Typically a pharmacy technician might assist in dispensing prescriptions, discussing proper use of pharmaceuticals with patients, and performing administrative duties such as verifying prescriptions, restocking shelves, and operating the cash register. The duties assigned to a pharmacy technician may vary depending on the number of licensed pharmacists on staff and state regulations governing the pharmacy where they work.
What Can I Do With an Online Degree in Pharmacy Tech?
While there are no specific training requirements for pharmacy technicians, most states will require at least a high school diploma or general equivalency degree. In addition, employers are often looking to hire technicians who have successfully completed a formal training program, including on-the-job training through a pharmacy internship. Employers may also prefer applicants who have been certified by a local or national pharmacy board. After completing a training program and any necessary certifications, prospective pharmacy technicians can pursue employment at community or retail pharmacies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, or third-party insurance companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 75% of pharmacy technicians were employed in a retail setting in 2010.
Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists by filling and dispensing prescriptions, discussing medications with patients, verifying prescriptions and insurance information, and other transactions. A pharmacy technician’s job description may vary based on the number of licensed pharmacists and other support staff working at the pharmacy, as well as state regulations that may dictate a technician’s job function. Pharmacy technicians may work part time or full time, but their schedules will often include evening, weekend, and holiday shifts, since many pharmacies operate 24 hours a day.
The job market for prospective pharmacy technicians is relatively favorable because of a shortage of pharmacists and general growth in the industry. However, please note that the best prospects are for technicians with formal training, certification, and previous experience. According to the BLS, the median hourly wage for pharmacy technicians was $13.32 as of May 2008, with the middle 50% making $10.95 to $15.88 an hour. A pharmacy technician salary can vary depending on the type of employer, the general job market, location, and whether a technician is board certified and has experience in the field.
What Is It Like To Get An Online Degree in Pharmacy Tech?
Online pharmacy technician training programs are most commonly offered through technical and community colleges or private online schools. Most of these training programs award certificates or associate degrees. Students of pharmacy technician schools can expect to cover relevant medical, public health, and business topics in their study. Courses in medical terminology, human physiology, pharmaceutical calculations, healthcare ethics, law, pharmacy recordkeeping, and customer service skills are all common in pharmacy technician training programs. By the end of their training, technicians should also have a thorough knowledge of the names of common medications and their appropriate uses and doses. Many programs include actual on-the-job training at pharmacies as well. This can be an important aspect employers look for on a pharmacy technician resume.
After completing a training program, most states require pharmacy technicians to register with their state board of pharmacy. In addition, employers may favor applicants who are certified through a national or local board. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) both offer national certification. In order to achieve this status, applicants must pass a pharmacy technician certification exam and pay the appropriate fees, though these fees may be reimbursed by your employer. The certification period is two years, and applicants must be clear of any felony convictions and any drug-related or pharmacy-related crimes, including misdemeanors. Please note, prospective pharmacy technicians should check with the appropriate local government offices about whether certification is required to be employed in the state.