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Pharmacy Tech Questions

1.What are different job options for pharmacy techs?
2.How did you go about becoming a pharmacy tech?
3.How much do entry level pharmacy techs make right out of college?
4.What do pharmacy techs do on a day to day basis?

Thank you comment icon Hi Nicole! These are all great questions that deserve to be posted individually. In the future, please post one question per post. This will also help you get relevant advice! Alexandra Carpenter, Admin

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Niko’s Answer

Hey Nicole, I see that many people have already gave you so many great responses on your question. But I thought I would still go ahead and add some feedback that I think would be really beneficial to you.

1. There are many many different jobs that you can do as a technician. It all boils down to where you see yourself working, setting wise. If you choose a chain pharmacy (aka retail) such as CVS or Walgreens, you will be expected to perform tasks such as a data entry, filling medications, and working with patients and getting their medications billed correctly to their insurances. Retail goal is to get as many people their medications as possible in a short time frame while helping them keep their medications at a low price. You can go to a compounding pharmacy where you will help a pharmacist out by mixing medications for patients who need them due to special reasons. There are hospital settings where it is similar. There is also opportunities for a technician to work remotely and do jobs such as data entry from home or making sure that patients are adhering to their medication regimens.

2. There is no college needed to become a technician. I repeat, no education is required (with tiny exception). Therefore, you just have to apply for a tech license based on your state's pharmacy laws. Some states do require a national certification with the PTCH (Pharmacy Technician Certification Board). However, this is not the case with most states. Most states just require that you apply for a license. In the case that you do need a PTCB certification, you can go to a vocational school to complete the requirements for the test or you can simply take an online class that fulfills the requirements for the test.

3. Since a technician requires zero college experience, the entry level pay is similar for all technicians (at the digression of the employer). You can expect to make anywhere from $15-20 starting. Now, there is a catch. If you are in a where national certification is optional, then you will be more valuable for obtaining it and will be paid a lot more starting off than your own counterparts. That is because certified technicians make less mistakes and therefore can carry more responsibilities than the average technician. Additionally, states have laws on how many technicians can be in a pharmacy per pharmacist. If you are certified, it increases the amount of tech per pharmacist rations, which many employees like as it reduces the need for multiple pharmacists.

4. The day to day tasks will depend on the setting as I mentioned in point #1. In a hospital setting you will prepare IV's and some special medications. In a retail, you will be filling, doing data entry, and interacting with patients directly. Etc. It all depends on where you work. Technicians have a wide scope of things they do. And when you become a certified technician, the possibilities only open up even more as you can do immunizations (in some states) and other things.
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Sheila’s Answer

The majority of pharmacy technicians work in retail settings (traditional drug stores - CVS, Walgreens, grocery stores, big box chains - Walmart, Sam’s, Costco, independent pharmacies, etc) or in hospitals.
There are also opportunities at Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBM’s), insurance companies, Medication Therapy Management (MTM) platforms.
Most companies offer on the job and formal training for pharmacy technicians. Positions outside of retail or hospitals often require previous pharmacy technician experience.
A college degree is usually not required. National Certification via PTCB is preferred and often can be obtained while working as a pharmacy technician.
Salary is based on experience and the position.
Day to day activities depend on the type of business. Traditional retail involves interaction with patients when they drop off or pick up prescriptions and over the telephone. Technicians type and fill prescriptions. They also help with inventory management, compliance programs, paperwork, records storage, etc. Some states allow pharmacy technicians to administer vaccines.
Technicians in hospitals also prep IV’s and specialty medications, including chemotherapy.
There are numerous opportunities for pharmacy technicians in various environments. I advise you to think about what environment and duties interest you and start from there. Good luck!
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Perry’s Answer

Hello and Great Questions!

1.What are different job options for pharmacy techs?
There are many different settings a pharmacy technician can work. The main two settings are for a community pharmacy (AKA retail) or a hospital pharmacy. Other settings include health insurance organizations (like Aetna or Humana), pharmacy benefits managers, clinical trials/research, or even specialized pharmacies like that of a compounding or oncology/ radiological pharmacies. Some pharmacy technicians can even work for companies doing compliance audits. As a pharmacy technicians' scope of practice broadens throughout the years, more options will become available.


2.How did you go about becoming a pharmacy tech?
I personally went to a local vocational college. Unfortunately, many vocational colleges that help train you to become a pharmacy technician can be a bit pricey. Most of them aren't very long though and training can last anywhere between 6 to 12 months. Other ways to become a pharmacy technician include on the job training through retail or hospital pharmacies, community colleges- with some even offering an associate degree, and self-study. What's important to understand is that being a pharmacy technician is legally regulated by each state and may require a person to have some form of formal training first. Many states require a person to pass a national pharmacy technician exam so as to apply for state licensure. Its best to check the requirements set forth by a person's state so as to save time and money and make the licensing process a whole bunch easier.

3.How much do entry level pharmacy techs make right out of college?
The amount of money a pharmacy technician receives right out of school can vary greatly depending on where the individual works and what certifications or degree they have obtained. Nationally certified and registered pharmacy technicians tend to make more money than non-certified individuals. To find out that information, the Bureau of Labor statistics can be a great resource to see how much on average a pharmacy technician makes annually. Accordingly, the median pay for entry level pharmacy technicians is about $17.66/hourly or $36, 740 annually. I always advise an individual to look on employment websites and search for pharmacy technician jobs to get an idea of how much companies are paying their technicians in their area because it could be less or more.

4.What do pharmacy techs do on a day-to-day basis?
Work functions depend on the job that the pharmacy technician is employed. Typically, pharmacy technicians review incoming prescriptions for accuracy and legal purposes, type those prescriptions into a computer system to generate labels, gather the correct medication(s) and count or pour the correct amount into a container, affix labels to the containers, send it to a pharmacist for review, then bag and sell the prescription to the right patient. Other responsibilities include answering patient/physician's office questions when appropriate, responding to inquiries over the phone, inventory management for medications and supplies, office administration, and clean up.

P.S
As a side note to how different a pharmacy technicians' job can be depending on the place of employment and job description, I offer myself as an example. I am employed through a health insurance organization and my primary goal is to reach out to our members over the phone and discuss medication adherence issues (or reasons why some members have not been taking their medications). We try to offer help in overcoming those barriers. I don't touch medications at all.
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Adrianne’s Answer

Hi Nicole,

Just to give you another perspective, I retained my pharmacy tech credentials through the military. In doing so I was able to retain my certification within a 6 month period ( after boot camp of course). Based on my branch, I have the opportunity to run pharmacy operations on ships, within clinics, and in hospitals.
Through my experience I have had the opportunity to make various IVs, disperse medication throughout the hospital, prepare compound medications, process prescriptions, and patient relations. As an introvert and so my favorite part of pharmacy is working on the inpatient side as I can do all the cool things without a lot of patient interaction. Hope this helps!
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Parixit’s Answer

1. You can work as a technician in the community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, mail order pharmacy, prior authorization departments in the PBM.
2. No training is needed. You apply for the technician licensure through the board of pharmacy. Some states require PTBC (pharmacy technician board certification) which requires some study. However, nevert get tempted to attain the colleges that advertises to train and offer placement. It is not worth anything.
3. Around $15
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