Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of settings, assisting licensed pharmacists with the dispensing of medications. More specifically, the job entails counting pills, mixing and measuring dosages, compounding medications and sorting them into appropriately labeled containers, in accordance with doctor's prescriptions. Outside of these duties, the work of a pharmacy technician varies largely in accordance with the environment and/or specialty in which they work.

Places of Employment for Pharmacy Techs

Of the roughly 333,500 pharmacy technicians in the United States, three out of four work in retail pharmacies. Generally these establishments are on busy street corners or within your neighborhood grocery store. Pharmacy technician employment in this venue is typically characterized by frequent interaction with patients and regular communication with referring physicians, making a retail-oriented and customer service driven approach to providing medicine the mission of the business.

However, in our electronically and economically driven society, the mail order pharmacy is gaining popularity with the accessibility of the Internet. This is especially true amongst those who suffer from chronic illnesses, necessitating frequent refills, and looking for ways to cut costs on their medications. Unlike retail pharmacies though, this setting allows for little-to-no interaction between technicians and patients, and is centered around speedy and accurate product delivery.

The remainder of pharmacy technicians works in hospitals and other large medical facilities. Pharmacy technician careers in these venues allow for frequent interaction with patients and physicians, performing documentation in patient's files, and delivering medications. Pharmacy technicians in this setting have maximized exposure to medicines due to the influx and overturn of cases seen within the facility. In addition, these settings provide the greatest opportunity for promotion and specialization based on the size of the staff and the needs of the facility. For instance, chemotherapy and radiology practices often necessitate pharmacy technicians with advanced certifications in chemotherapy or nuclear pharmacology to concoct medicines for specific patient treatments. These positions often involve direct assistance in patient treatment and ongoing education.

Employment Outlook for Pharmacy Technicians

Job prospects for pharmacy technicians are promising, given a number of contributing factors. As baby boomers become elderly, pharmaceutical companies make advancements in medicine, and the role of pharmacies changes with health care reform, there are estimates that the employment of pharmacy technicians will increase by as much as 25% by 2018. Thus, gaining certification and work experience in this field offers job security at a level that exceeds the average for all occupations. However, with this kind of growth and trending towards pharmacies as patient care centers, the job description is likely to include increased responsibility and necessitate a level of training that has not become prerequisite, as of yet.