Career Summary

Median salary as of March 2010: $29,320 per year ($14.10 per hour) Educational Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent (Associate’s degree, certification)

Required Work Experience: None

Number of jobs as of March 2010: 355,300

Job outlook 2010-2020: Expected 20% increase in number of jobs; faster than average for most occupations Employment Change 2010-2020: 70,700 additional jobs in this time period

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Pharmacy Technicians, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm (visited August 25, 2014).

Career Overview

In the state of California, pharmacy technicians work with licensed pharmacists to help dispense prescription medications to customers and/or healthcare professionals. They work in retail pharmacies, grocery stores, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Pharmacy technicians may also be required to operate automated dispensing equipment in order to fill certain prescription orders. They spend the majority of their day on their feet.

Specific duties include:

  • Take appropriate information needed to fill and distribute prescriptions
  • Measure, package, and label prescription medications
  • Organize and help maintain inventory within the pharmacy
  • Accept payments and process insurance claims
  • Data entry of customer or patient information
  • Answer pharmacy phone calls throughout the shift
  • Arrange for customers to speak with licensed pharmacist for any questions about their condition and/or medications

Pharmacy technicians are supervised by pharmacists who are responsible for reviewing each prescription before it is distributed to the patient. In California, pharmacy technicians are authorized to contact physicians in order to obtain refill authorization for patients.

Education of Pharmacy Technicians

The base education requirement for a pharmacy technician in California is a high school diploma or equivalent. Some pharmacy technicians learn through specialized on-the-job training at a pharmacy. These programs can vary in length and curriculum based on different employer’s requirements. Pharmacy technicians in California can also obtain an Associate’s degree or graduate from an accredited School of Pharmacy. While certification is not always mandatory, many employers will pay for their students to take the exam.

Licensure and Certification

In addition to the high school diploma or GED, fees, and a criminal background check, a Pharmacy Technician in the state of California must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have an Associate’s degree in Pharmacy Technology from a program accredited by the American Society of Health–System.
    • Programs cover a variety of subjects, such as arithmetic, recordkeeping and data entry, ways of dispensing medications, and pharmacy law and ethics. Technicians also learn the names, uses, and doses of medications they will come into contact with during the course of their job. Many programs also include clinical experience opportunities, so that the student has some practical training and experience.
  • Complete a course of training specified by the board.
    • This can be any other course that provides a training period of at least 240 hours of instruction, which includes training in pharmaceutical and medical terms, abbreviations and symbols that are often used in prescribing, knowledge of dosage and storage requirements, and an ability to calculate required dosages employing both the metric and apothecary systems. More detailed curriculum requirements can be found here:http://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/applicants/index.shtml#faq_tech
  • Graduate from a School of Pharmacy recognized by the board.
  • Obtain certification by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam

Continuing Education: The PTCB requirements mandate that certified technicians must seek recertification every two years. Pharmacy technicians must complete at least 20 hours of pharmacy-related continuing education in order to recertify themselves with the PTCB. Up to ten hours can be earned through on-the-job training under the supervision of a pharmacist, completing tasks that challenge and teach the technician in new ways. Per PTCB requirements for pharmacy technicians in the state of California, at least one hour must be spent studying pharmacy law.

Earnings

The following chart provides salary ranges for Pharmacy Technicians with less than one year of experience in select cities of California. Data from http://www.salary.com/category/salary/

Los Angeles $33,236-$35,184

Oakland $34,409-$36,426

San Diego $32,251-$34,141

San Francisco $37,016-$39,186

View a list of schools in California offering pharmacy technician programs.

 

Author Bio:
 
Audrey Clark is a skilled freelance blogger covering a range of topics from careers and finance to travel and leisure, along with everything in-between. When not writing, she’s always on the lookout for her next adventure. Connect with Audrey on Twitter and Google+.