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Retail and Hospital Pharmacy Technician Job Description [Updated 2020]

There are good job opportunities for pharmacy technicians with formal training and certification. As there are various types of pharmacy practices technicians can work in community and hospital-settings the role and pharmacy technician job description varies depending on the environment worked in. Ultimately the main duty of a technician is to assist the pharmacist in providing patient care.

Retail Pharmacy Technician Job Description 

Community or retail pharmacies is where the majority of jobs are being advertised.  What an outpatient (outside of the hospital) pharmacy technician can do and cannot do is ultimately determined by various laws governing pharmacy practice which comes from a number of sources: FDA, DEA and federal laws to name a few. Therefore being aware of the legal system relating to pharmacy technicians is vital to understanding their role.  Some of the duties an outpatient pharmacy technician performs includes:

  • ​Invoicing
  • Verifying prescription information
  • Retrieving, counting, pouring, weighing, measuring and mixing medication
  • Interacting with patients
  • Selecting containers and preparing labels
  • Preparing insurance claim forms.
  • Operating cash registers
  • Answering telephone calls
  • Restocking

Retail pharmacy work is often the starting point for many technicians gaining work experience before they move on in other settings including hospital pharmacies. There are variances in a pharmacy technicians' role between a hospital pharmacy and retail or community pharmacy.

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Hospital Pharmacy Technician Job Description

An inpatient (inside the hospital) pharmacy technician ensures the correct medication and dosage is provided to the hospital nurse. Below is an overview of the duties involved on a daily basis:  

  • Assist in the medication distribution and supplies to nursing stations
  • Calculating charges for all dispensed medication and equipment to hospital patients
  • Preparing sterile products such as IV solutions, irrigations, epidurals, prefilled syringes etc.
  • Entering medication orders into the pharmacy information system.
  • Training of newly hired trainees.
  • Assist in the ordering and properly storing medication and in the maintenance of inventory.
  • Assisting pharmacists to ensure that all orders are processed, dispensed and delivered promptly

Hospital pharmacy technicians are ruled by several government agencies and therefore must adhere to set policies and procedures. Knowledge of these is vital along with how to correctly dispense medication. Because of the higher level of responsibilities the entry-level pay scale is often higher in hospital pharmacies than most other pharmacy settings and with experience the wages are even more appealing. Because of this many of the hospital advertised vacancies require pharmacy technicians who have completed an accredited pharmacy technology training program and have gained PTCE or ExCPT certification.

Where do pharmacy technicians work?

Pharmacy technicians can work in an number of settings with most popular being:

  • Hospitals
  • Health and personal care stores
  • Medical stores
  • Retail or mail-order pharmacies
  • Assisted-living centers
  • Nursing homes

Pharmacy technicians who work in retail or mail-order pharmacies, may be allowed to process prescriptions electronically sent by doctors' offices. On the other hand, technicians who work in nursing homes and assisted-living centers are also tasked to prepare sterile solutions and deliver them to nurses or physicians.

What traits are important to succeed in this career?

Here is a great video to give you a quick insight into some of the characteristics needed to succeed as a Pharmacy Tech!

There are certain traits a pharmacy technician needs in order to succeed and progress in this career. The two main ones you need to master are:

  • CUSTOMER SERVICE: One of the main skills required is good customer service skills. Remaining calm and patient in stressful situations is vital especially since many of the customers are patients that are experiencing pain.
  • COMMUNICATION SKILLS. Keep in mind that you are interacting with your colleagues and patients on a daily basis. Conveying and explaining information in a concise way is pertinent to this job.

The above mentioned traits along with a formal pharmacy technician training program  and certification are essential to become an effective pharmacy technician.

How much can I earn as a Pharmacy Technician?

Hospital pharmacy technicians is where the highest earnings are achieved. As regards to salary potential, in general technicians can earn as much as $40,710 per annum with hourly rates ranging from $9.54 and $19.57. There are several variables that affect the overall pharmacy technician's salary. Main ones are: years of experience in the field, formal pharmacy technician training received and certification despite not being a requirement in some states. Having certification however can make a considerable difference to your pay check and employability!

Salary data courtesy of BLS: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Search Pharmacy Technician Programs

Get information on Pharmacy Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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