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Working as a pharmacy technician

Updated on September 10, 2015
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Erin Shelby is passionate about living a lifestyle that aims for financial freedom. She writes about personal finance and other topics.

Are you looking for a job in healthcare that doesn't require a bachelor's degree? Consider a job as a pharmacy technician.

What does a pharmacy technician do?

Pharmacy technicians work alongside pharmacists to provide medication that is not available over the counter. Following a doctor’s order – called a script - they complete orders for pills, syrups, inhalers and other types of medicine. They place script directions into the computer for future reference making attention to detail critical. Pharmacy technicians are often the first point of contact with customers. Answering phone calls and accepting customers’ payments at the register are essential duties.

What training is required?

Unlike a pharmacist, a pharmacy technician is not required to spend years in school to receive training. Although training programs do exist for pharmacy technicians, these are typically not required to be considered for employment. Training for pharmacy technicians happens on the job under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist.

How is this different from being a pharmacist?

Pharmacists understand why a drug may work based on its chemistry. This knowledge helps them understand drug interactions and side effects. Because of this expertise, pharmacists can counsel patients and answer questions. Pharmacy technicians, on the other hand, cannot answer questions on how to take medicine or other concerns. Pharmacists also carry legal liability if the wrong prescription or the wrong amount is given to the patient. Because of this, all medications are checked by a pharmacist before the patient can accept it.

How can I get a pharmacy technician job?

Any store that has a pharmacy needs pharmacy technicians. This includes drugstores, grocery stores, superstores, hospitals and mail order pharmacy companies. Submitting an application even when there appears to be no openings may help you obtain a position.

If you were a pharmacy technician, where would you like to work?

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