What Is a Pharmacy Technician and What Do They Do?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Have you ever thought about becoming a pharmacy technician? You may want to consider this career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of June 2021, projects a four percent job growth between 2019 and 2029.

Many people don’t have an accurate understanding of this role. You’ll have many responsibilities as part of the pharmacy team. Keep reading to gain an overview of this career path.

What Is a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy technicians work closely with a licensed pharmacist to meet the patients’ needs. Properly trained technicians work directly with the public. They must have practical communication skills, computer experience, and be detail-oriented.

These technicians also have a working knowledge of prescriptions and medical insurance. As they process medication requests, they must confidently check every detail for accuracy. They’re a vital part of the pharmacy team.

Education Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Technician

First, you must have a high school diploma or an equivalent. Today, most states mandate that pharmacy technicians complete a formal training program. Upon completing their education, they may be required to pass an examination to document competency, in addition to meeting other requirements, depending on the state.  In California, one way a student can meet licensure requirements is by attending a curriculum-approved college and submitting an application, background check, and fingerprints.  If all checks out, a license is then issued.

Pharmacy Technician Education Programs provide comprehensive instructions on the role. This ranges from handling pharmacy transactions to precise filling of prescriptions. These programs combine classroom, lab, and on-site learning experiences.

The Pharmacy Work Environment

The first piece of information you need to know about the pharmacy is that it’s very fast-paced. You will work alongside the licensed pharmacist. Most techs work full-time, but there are part-time opportunities as well.

You’ll find pharmacies in hospitals, clinics, grocery stores, and general merchandise businesses. Some locations work 24/7, while others are open during traditional business hours.

Pharmacy Technician Job Description

Each pharmacy structures the pharmacy technicians’ duties to meet their needs. Here are some tasks you will most pharmacy technicians will do:

Prescription Processing

You will be filling and verifying the accuracy of prescription requests as directed by the pharmacist. This included ensuring that the name on the prescription is an exact match. You must also make sure the address, date of birth, and phone number are correct.

You’ll count, measure, and bottle medications in tablet or capsule form. Liquid medications need to be precisely measured and sometimes mixed. At times, the preparation of prescriptions involves performing calculations.

Pharmacy techs work with preparing sterile medications, so they must know the sterile techniques. You will also complete dosage documents and create prescription labels. After the licensed pharmacist verifies the prescription, the tech will often dispense the prescription.

Patient Records

Using effective communication skills comes into play when interacting with patients. Pharmacy techs gather medical histories, including all current drugs the patient takes. It’s vital to obtain accurate data, maintain these records and ensure confidentiality.

Insurance Claims

This role may include processing insurance claims forms. You’re often involved in helping to complete prior authorizations with insurance. Thus, you’ll need to understand the terminology and procedures for these tasks.

Customer Service

In this fast-paced environment, it’s key to remain focused and professional. You will need to interact with upset customers at times and attempt to resolve problems. The techs also handle money transactions when delivering the prescriptions to patients.

It’s important to know that pharmacy techs have restrictions on what they can tell patients. Many patients don’t understand the variables involved in insurance medication coverage.

They may only know that they have insurance and that this gives them free or reduced costs. Some people don’t even know if they have prescription insurance coverage. In these instances, you’re able to explain the scope and extent of their insurance benefits.

You can only provide advice, recommendations, or information pre-approved by the insurance company. The tech’s job is to describe the patient’s options per the insurance company’s instructions.

At times, patients aren’t able or willing to accept insurance limitations. The customer may not know how to deal with a denial of coverage. In this case, the tech may refer the patient to their medical insurance provider and/or provide private payment options.

Other Duties

Pharmacy technicians also perform many other jobs as part of the team. You’ll work to maintain the pharmacy inventory and patient records. Everyone in the pharmacy plays a role in protecting the security of the drugs.

You’ll also stock shelves, perform data entry, and complete bookkeeping tasks. All techs must do their part to ensure the pharmacy’s compliance with regulatory rules. Some roles could include assisting in investigational drug trials or other initiatives such as vaccinations.

Perks of the Pharmacy Technician Role

This career path provides a variety of job locations and work hours. You can enter this occupation by attending a certificate program. As pharmacies continue to expand their services, this role will grow as well.

Pharmacy techs have opportunities for advancement. After gaining experience, you can apply for supervisory roles.

There are also specialization programs to add to your skillset. Examples include sterile compounding, hazardous drug management, and pharmacy automation. Other specialty areas to explore are health informatics, telehealth, and vaccine administration.

Are You Looking for an Associate’s Degree or Allied Certificate Program?

InterCoast Colleges offer a wide variety of programs, including a certificate program in pharmacy technician. We offer associate’s degrees and certificate programs for many other career fields. Examples include business, substance use disorder counseling, allied health, and skilled trade industries.

Many courses prepare students to be career-ready so that they can enter their chosen careers. We foster the professional behaviors and attitudes for entry-level employment that employers are seeking.

Our staff teaches effective communication, good work habits, and cultural sensitivity. This is what we believe will give you the self-discipline and confidence to succeed.

Contact us today to ask questions and find the program that’s right for you.

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