healthcare certificate program

Originally Published on

Pharmacy technicians may choose from several career options after earning an online education. The following descriptions are some examples of possible jobs. They all require a minimum of a career diploma or associate degree, but may not require certification since regulations vary between states. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, certification can make it easier for pharmacy technicians to find employment.

Pharmacy Technician. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 52 percent of pharmacy technicians in the U.S. worked in pharmacies and drug stores, while 13 percent found employment in private hospitals in 2014. Drug stores and pharmacies can be a very busy working environment with many responsibilities, including greeting customers, entering their prescription information into the computer, measuring medications, and accepting payment. Pharmacy technicians need to be able to prioritize and manage tasks well because they also need to answer calls from customers and health care providers as they come in.

Those working in private hospitals fulfill many similar job responsibilities, working under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist as they enter orders and fill prescriptions for inpatients and patients soon to be discharged. Hospital pharmacy technicians prepare a wider variety of medications because of the different health needs of the patients they service.

In some states, pharmacy technicians are permitted to compound medications under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Being detail oriented is essential to prevent prescription mistakes. The BLS projects a growth of 9 percent in the employment of pharmacy technicians from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Reasons for the expected growth include an aging population requiring more prescriptions and increased health care coverage making it possible for people to pay for medication.

Pharmacy Assistant/Pharmacy Aide. Pharmacy assistants provide the most basic levels of service in a pharmacy. Although they assist pharmacists along with pharmacy technicians, pharmacy assistants do not have the same level of training and education. The primary responsibility of a pharmacy assistant is check people out at the cash register and provide customer service assistance so pharmacy technicians can handle other duties. Job growth for pharmacy assistants is projected to be 3 percent from 2014 to 2024 according to the BLS.

Lead Pharmacy Technician. Lead pharmacy technicians handle the same responsibilities as other pharmacy technicians while also providing leadership and guidance, monitoring workflow and billing activities. In addition to preparing medications and dispensing them into bottles, lead pharmacy technicians are responsible for selecting and stocking medications and supplies in the pharmacy. Busy pharmacies often require lead pharmacy technicians to take on more of the pharmacist’s responsibilities in order to free them up to handle tasks that require advanced training.

Pharmacist. Pharmacists are licensed to prepare and dispense prescription medication to patients. They also advise patients about how to use their prescriptions safely. Pharmacists must earn a four-year Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree and pass two licensing exams in order to practice. They are responsible for record-keeping and administrative tasks and overseeing the pharmacy technicians. The national job growth outlook for pharmacists is 3 percent from 2014 to 2024 according to the BLS, slower than average for all occupations. An increase in the number pharmacy school graduates has resulted in more competition for jobs.