Pharmacy technicians keep the pharmacy running smoothly. They work closely with licensed pharmacists in a variety of settings, including hospitals, handling clerical duties and helping label and dispense medications. You can begin working in this quickly growing profession with only a high school diploma and train on-the-job while you work. Though you don't need an advanced degree, you do need to be accurate, detail oriented and well organized. When handling medication, the margin of error is slim.
Hospital pharmacy technicians are constantly on the go, measuring, mixing, weighing and counting medications to fill numerous prescriptions daily for both patients and doctors, a perfect job for high energy workers who never lose focus on the details. You'll be responsible for preparing, packaging and labeling prescription drugs to order under a pharmacist who will check your work for accuracy before distribution. You might also work directly with prescribing doctors and restock hospital patient areas with supplies and medication.
You'll keep the operation running smoothly by inventorying and ordering supplies and medication, managing patient billing and collections and communicating with pharmacists to relay medical staff requests for patient medication counseling. Veteran hospital pharmacy techs might also take on a supervisory role, training new hires, managing scheduling, performance reviews and overseeing all work to ensure accuracy. Supervising pharmacy techs also design and implement quality assurance monitoring systems. Most hospital pharmacies are open and staffed around the clock.
Education and Skills
There is no current education system, standard or formal training for pharmacy technicians, leaving the field open to anyone, though most hospitals require at least a high school diploma. Many states also have licensing or certification requirements for pharmacy technicians. Come into the field with strong interpersonal, communication and organizational skills and be ready to learn on the job. Prior experience in customer service, retail sales, inventory, computers and database technology are a big plus. Accuracy is paramount. There is no room for carelessness when handling medication.
Job Outlook and Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects faster than average job growth for all pharmacy technicians, expecting about 32 percent growth from 2010 to 2020. While the majority, about 54 percent of employees, work in retail pharmacies and drug stores, hospitals are the second largest employer. About 18 percent of pharmacy technicians work in hospitals and are on average the highest earners. The median wage for hospital pharmacy techs in May 2010 was $32,400 while their counterparts in grocery stores and private pharmacies made $28,720 and $27,160 respectively.
Based in Portland, Ore., Holly Goodman began writing professionally in 1991. Her articles have appeared in "The Oregonian," "Dog Fancy," "High Times," First Wives World and on YouTango.com, among other publications. Her fiction has appeared in "The Journal" and at Literary Mama. Goodman has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from The Ohio State University.