Math Needed to Be a Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians utilize math skills to calculate the correct dosages to enter into the computer.
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Pharmacy technicians utilize math skills to calculate the correct dosages to enter into the computer.

Some go through school with the belief that math is an evil subject that they hope to never see again when they enter the real world. They believe no one really needs to know when "Train X" will pass "Train Y" if they leave different stations at the same time, unless train robbery is someone's future career choice. Although knowing the square root of pi may be something those students hope to never see again, the truth is some jobs do require a knowledge of math. If you find a job as a pharmacy technician more appealing than holding up trains, there is a possibility that math skills may be on the requirements list.

Pharmacy Technician Jobs

Pharmacy technicians work in retail, hospital and grocery store pharmacies. They assist the pharmacist in preparing and filling prescriptions brought in by patients and called in from doctor’s offices. The technician is usually responsible for inputting customer information into the computer, updating that information as prescriptions are filled and keeping track of inventory needs. While on the surface it may seem like math skills are not important to carry out these tasks, a foundation in business and applied math will make a candidate more successful in their job.

Math Skills Needed

Students planning on attending a pharmacy technician training program need to have at least completed 11th or 12th grade math. This prepares them for the math presented in the curriculum. Students take courses such as Pharmacy Math 1 and 2. Classes in computer prescriptions also require a rudimentary knowledge of math. In pharmacy math, students must perform arithmetic problems and learn pharmacy calculations. Calculations are used when compounding medication, diluting solutions and measuring medication dosages. Since pharmacies are often in a retail setting, future technicians also learn retail math needed to operate a cash register and work with customers.

Growth and Salary

Smart girls who do the math will see that pharmacy technician jobs offer great growth potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the estimated growth rate through 2020 comes in at an occupational high of 32 percent. An aging population and an increase in prescription drug usage helps to boost the growth numbers. The pay isn’t bad either; with a median annual salary of $28,400, pharmacy technician pay is competitive with other similar positions. Technicians in the top 10 percent of the earnings list made over $40,710. Erratic hours, working nights and giving up weekends and some holidays is a free benefit offered to prospective clients.

Finding a Job

Hopeful pharmacy technicians completing a regulated program may find it easier to locate a job after graduation than those not going through one. At the end of the program, the students take a certification exam, which increases their chances of being hired. That’s not to say that you have to go through a program. Your good math grades can help you secure a retail position at a pharmacy allowing you to train on the job and eventually assume the position of pharmacy technician.

2016 Salary Information for Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy technicians earned a median annual salary of $30,920 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, pharmacy technicians earned a 25th percentile salary of $25,170, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $37,780, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 402,500 people were employed in the U.S. as pharmacy technicians.

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