Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in any pharmacy. They interact with patients and customers, monitor inventory and even compound custom pharmaceutical products for patients who need special formulations.
But where did the role of pharmacist (and pharmacist technician) start? Long before your neighborhood drug store existed, ancient Greeks and Romans were using pharmaceutical methods to heal the sick and injured.
Centuries later, Benjamin Franklin would create the first hospital pharmacy in Philadelphia. Back then it was called an apothecary.
While pharmacy technicians were always an integral part of the pharmacy environment, the field didn't gain its first professional association, The American Association of Pharmacy Technicians, until 1979.
Today, pharmacies need a robust staff to keep up with demands of a patients and the evolving pharmaceutical industry. That's where pharmacy technicians come in.
They work in hospitals, retail chain pharmacies, mail-order pharmacies and even long-term care facilities. Since pharmacies are open at all hours, a pharmacy technician's work schedule may include night and weekend shifts.
On the job, you can expect to use equipment such as:
As a pharmacy technician, you'll need to have a strong attention to detail, unparalleled integrity and compassion for others. The role can be fast-paced and demanding at times so the ability to work well under pressure is also necessary.
If you're considering a career as a pharmacy technician, now is a great time. The field is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade and you can expect to earn a median salary of $36,740.
Pharmacy technicians are needed across the country for a number of reasons. The population is aging and chronic diseases often require medication. In addition, more U.S. citizens have access to health insurance which covers many types of prescriptions.
As pharmacies increase their patient care services, pharmacy technicians will be needed to assist pharmacists more than ever. Accurately collecting patient information and preparing medications are critical pharmacy technician skills.
Becoming a Pharmacy Technician
As the pharmaceutical industry grows, more schools are offering certificate and degree programs to prepare the next generation of pharmacy technicians.
Certificate programs typically take one year or less to complete. If you're interested in earning a more extensive education, an associate's degree is another option. Although you'll spend approximately two years in school, you'll learn the necessary pharmacy technician skills in addition to earning a liberal arts education.
Courses typically include pharmacy law and ethics, medication dispensing, record keeping and medication dosages.
Once you've received your pharmacy technician education, you may be required to earn certification, depending on your state. Even if it's not required in order to work, professional certification demonstrates your knowledge and skills. Employers may be more inclined to hire someone who has earned credentials from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the National Healthcareer Association.
To help you get started, we've compiled some of the best pharmacy technician resources on the web. Browse through information about professional organizations, view videos and tap into relevant publications.
Professional Associations and Organizations
National Pharmacy Technician Association
The NPTA is one of the premier associations for pharmacy techs in the nation. As a member, you will be able to access jobs boards, continuing education modules, and even conferences where you can meet other technicians.
American Association of Pharmacy Technicians
As a member of the AAPT you will be able to engage with pharmacy technicians nationwide on the AAPT blog, keep up to date via the newsletter, and attend stimulating seminars at the annual conference. The association even offers free continuing education for members.
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
More than 80 percent of jurisdictions require technicians to be licensed or certified. Stay current with the latest requirements and track your continuing education requirements via NABP.
Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education
The ACPE oversees pharmacy technician programs to ensure they are held to the highest standards. Find accredited programs and other resources for continuing education.
Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy
AMCP recently opened their membership to pharmacy technicians making it a great time to engage in industry discussions. Through the AMCP, you can participate in continuing education, national meetings and a vast array of resources to help enhance your career.
American Pharmacists Association
The APhA's website includes many resources specific to pharmacists, but they also includes information for technicians. Find study aids for your certification examination and resource books, such as a skills-building manual and pocket drug reference.
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
The ASHP includes resources for pharmacy techs, including educational outlets, articles discussing current trends and other resources aimed at helping you make the most of your career.
Board of Pharmacy Specialties
Though aimed at pharmacists, techs can use this website to stay current on issues and trends in the industry. The website includes a blog and other reading materials that may provide the nugget of information you need to stand out at work.
Institute for Safe Medication Practices
Everyone in the pharmaceutical industry wants the best, safest practices and the ISMP is there to help develop best practices for all. They distribute newsletters, host webinars and offer continuing education to help all healthcare professionals develop their practices.
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
This website aggregates pharmaceutical news that will be of interest to pharmacists and technicians. If you want to stay current on legislation, policy and new developments in the range of pharmaceuticals available, you will want to bookmark this site and refer to it often.
National Community Pharmacists Association
Community pharmacies are still a vital part of the industry. Since small operations often delegate more responsibility to technicians, you will find that the more you know about running a community pharmacy, the greater resource you will be to your employer.
National Pharmaceutical Association
Check this website when you complete your education to find the very best job listings. The NPA is particularly concerned with advocating for minority students and practicing pharmacists.
Texas Pharmacy Association
Get the latest information from the Texas Pharmacy Association. Though aimed at pharmacists, you can still learn a lot from the TPA. You will find links to articles related to policy, legislation and everyday news.
Texas Society of Health-System Pharmacists
This site has much to offer you as a Texas-based pharmacy technician, including a job board. Join the association to stay connected to others in your field. Membership includes continuing education and a wide range of other resources.
Academy of Pharmacy Technicians (California)
Stay current on issues pertaining to your work locally and across the country. Take advantage of networking opportunities, gain insight into legislative advocacy and tap into other resources designed for pharmacy technicians.
Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association
Pharmacists and pharmacy techs alike can join the PPA to enjoy fellowship, professional networking and educational opportunities. Through the website, you can access webinars and CEs for technicians. The association also keeps members up to date on state and national legislation.
Minnesota Pharmacists Association
As a pharmacy technician, you can use the MPhA's resources to stay current on CE requirements. Through the website, you can also access on-demand webinars to enhance your professional practice.
Virginia Pharmacists Association
Find opportunities for social, professional and academic gatherings that can help boost your career as a pharmacy technician. Legislative initiatives are a major part of the organization's mission. They also support and encourage all techs to pursue national certification.
Nebraska Pharmacists Association
Through the NPA, pharmacy techs can find resources such as a training manual, a PTCB certification exam review and an ASHP/ACPE accredited training program that is offered at a local community college.
South Carolina Pharmacy Association
The SCPhA offers memberships to those who have either completed an accredited pharmacy tech program or who have a state-issued license. As a member, you will enjoy invitations to conferences, webinars and professional networking events throughout the Palmetto State.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board
Learn how to get certified, find pharmacy organizations and review job outlooks. The organization's site includes exam preparation information, renewal resources and exam details.
Financial Aid Information
Concerned about how you'll pay for pharmacy technician school? Use FAFSA to apply for federal financial aid. This site includes information about application deadlines and filing options.
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
Although the AACP doesn't provide financial assistance to students, you can find a wealth of information about paying for school on their site. The organization also provides information about grants and scholarships.
Pharmacy Technician Career Information
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The outlook for pharmacy technicians is rosy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Keep abreast of median salaries and other information with this vital link.
American Association of Pharmacy Technician
Use this job search resource to find opportunities throughout the country. Users can also set up job alerts. Hiring? Use this job board to find qualified pharmacy technicians.
Pharmacy Technician Publications
Journal of the American Pharmacists Association
The JAPhA journal covers the broad scope of healthcare, with a slant towards pharmaceuticals. Find practical articles that make sense of science, showing you how to implement abstract concepts.
Rx Times Pharmacy Magazine
This vital industry publication covers a broad range of topics, including oncology, hospital issues, diabetes and mental health, among others. It also features job listings in markets from coast to coast.
U.S. Pharmacist covers a wide range of topics in both pharmacy practice and diseases. They also have a range of CE courses available. Courses include many areas in health care practice and also include legal issues.
No pharmacy's library should be without Pharmacy Times, the industry journal that covers everything from medication errors, drug overdose, patient care and interaction to technology and law, among other issues.
Published by the American Pharmacists Association, the magazine covers obesity, genetic testing, cancer drugs and electronic medical records and more. Tap into the daily edition online where you can read the latest information on drugs, diseases, trends and laws.
Drug Topics has you covered with both print and digital editions. Articles include viewpoints from voices in the field, regulatory information and the latest news affecting the pharmacy field.
Monthly Prescribing Reference
Targeted toward physicians who prescribe medications, this online news source can be a valuable asset to pharmacy technicians. Use this resource to keep on top of the entire scope of the healthcare spectrum.
The Medical Letter on Drugs
Learn about new drugs so that you can provide up-to-date and accurate information to your patients. The nonprofit organization provides comparative reviews and critical appraisals.
Pharmaceutical Executive has podcasts, webcasts and an RSS feed on top of the regular print and digital editions. Learn about the latest FDA news, events and resources.
BioSupply Trends Quarterly
Keep on top of new trends and products in the biopharmaceutical industry. This exciting sector of the pharmacy will be vital to the future of medicine, so a knowledgeable pharmacy tech is all the more valuable to patients and pharmacists alike.
Pharmacy Practice News
PPN's content-rich website will keep you learning with white papers, monographs and up-to-date news about new drugs and happenings in the industry. You can subscribe to the print edition and you can also sign up for their email newsletter and find so much on their website.
American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
AJHP is the flagship publication of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. This is a scientific journal that publishes studies so that you can analyze the efficacy of drugs.
When you are starting out as a pharmacy technician, you will want to check Pharmacy Week's jobs listing as well as their employer profiles. If you are overseeing hiring for your pharmacy, you will want to use Pharmacy Week as part of your recruiting campaign.
If you intend to work as a pharmacy tech for a local hospital, this journal will be a vital resource. The journal is peer-reviewed, ensuring the very best information the industry has available.
Drug Store News
Find information on the personalities that drive the industry, as well as issues such as pain management, generic drugs and technology. Their website offers a lot of information, but so does their RSS feed and print editions.
Pharmacy Technician Videos
Pharmacy Technician Math Review
Get a better understanding of the math questions you'll be asked to answer on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board exam. The video is approximately seven minutes long.
VA Department of Health Professions
This video will help you identify signs of drug abuse so that the products you work with are not misused. Drug abuse and overdose is a serious issue for pharmacists nationwide.