Pharmacy Technician: Job Description, Requirements, and Outlook

HealthcareDecember 11, 2023

Professions that deliver strong job satisfaction are sometimes hard to find, but the individuals who work as pharmacy technicians have found a job they enjoy. An impressive 84% of pharmacy technicians said they were satisfied with working in the profession, according to a 2022 survey by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).  

Perhaps best known for distributing medication, pharmacy technicians have many additional duties that make them a critical component of healthcare. The world was reminded of the important role of pharmacy technicians during the COVID-19 pandemic, when they had to adjust quickly to assume new responsibilities (such as testing duties) to help people maintain their health.

Those who may be interested in enrolling in a pharmacy technician training program can benefit from becoming familiar with the pharmacy technician job description and what working in the position entails.

Pharmacy Technician Job Description

Ensuring patients receive the medication they need to improve their health is at the heart of the pharmacy technician job description. But making that possible involves performing an extensive number of job responsibilities. Examples of those responsibilities are highlighted below. 

Providing Patients with Medication

To ensure patients have their medication, pharmacy technicians perform duties such as:

  • Gathering, measuring, mixing, and calculating proper amounts of medications
  • Putting together specific sterile medications (for example, for patients who are undergoing treatment for cancer)
  • Preparing special medications that will be administered intravenously
  • Creating accurate labels for medication
  • Reviewing patients’ new medication orders and comparing them to medications patients are already taking
  • Keeping accurate records of patients’ medications

Communicating with Patients

The work pharmacy technicians do also involves important interactions with patients. For example, pharmacy technicians can be responsible for:

  • Obtaining health history and other information from patients
  • Educating patients about using their medication
  • Answering patients’ questions or referring them to pharmacists for answers
  • Helping patients find over-the-counter medications

Performing Responsibilities Related to Pharmacy Operations

Working as a pharmacy technician also involves completing duties designed to keep a pharmacy operating effectively and efficiently. That can entail responsibilities such as:

  • Coordinating with health insurance companies and processing claims
  • Ensuring a pharmacy complies with laws and regulations
  • Tracking and maintaining medication inventories
  • Ensuring a pharmacy stores medication properly (for example, at the proper temperature)
  • Keeping pharmacy equipment clean

Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work?

The responsibilities of a particular pharmacy technician can vary depending on the work setting. Those in the profession can work in environments such as:

  • Retail pharmacies
  • Compounding pharmacies
  • Hospitals and other types of healthcare organizations
  • Nursing homes
  • Correctional facilities
  • Mail order pharmacies
  • Pharmaceutical companies

Industries in Which Pharmacy Technicians Can Work

While it’s easy to envision pharmacy technicians working in pharmacies, it’s important to note they can serve roles in other areas such as:

  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Veterinary health
  • The military
  • Home healthcare
  • Telepharmacy operations

Education and Experience Requirements

To perform the responsibilities of a pharmacy technician, individuals need to fulfill certain requirements related to education and experience. Here are the steps to complete those requirements.

Earn a High School Diploma

The path to becoming a pharmacy technician starts with earning a high school diploma. Individuals also can pass the General Educational Development (GED) test to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Acquire Pharmacy Technician Skills Through Further Education

A great way for aspiring pharmacy technicians to learn how to carry out their responsibilities is to complete a pharmacy technician training program. Individuals can also earn an associate degree that focuses on pharmacy technician skills. Through this training, students learn skills in areas such as:

  • Operating a pharmacy
  • Dispensing pharmaceuticals
  • Using medical terminology
  • Labeling prescriptions
  • Managing emergencies involving pharmaceuticals
  • Adhering to pharmaceutical laws and regulations
  • Maintaining pharmaceutical records
  • Recognizing the potential for drug interactions and side effects

Training programs for pharmacy technicians typically include both classroom instruction and the opportunity to gain hands-on experience.

Obtain Certification as a Pharmacy Technician

Completing a pharmacy technician training program equips graduates with the skills to take the certification exams to become a pharmacy technician. Specifically, individuals can obtain certification as a Certified Pharmacy Technician  (CPhT) by taking the exam the PTCB offers, or the exam from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). 

Individuals who have not completed a pharmacy technician training program can take those exams if they have the following.

  • At least 500 hours working as a pharmacy technician (for the PTCB exam)
  • At least 1 year of work experience with a minimum of 1,200 hours of supervised work related to pharmacy (for the NHA exam)

Comply with State Requirements for Licensure or Registration as a Pharmacy Technician

It’s important for pharmacy technicians to comply with any licensure or registration requirements in the states where they will work. Requirements vary across states. For example:

  • Some states require pharmacy technicians to obtain state licenses.
  • Some require pharmacy technicians to register with a state agency.
  • Some states have no requirements for licensure or registration.

Consider Obtaining Other Certifications to Advance as a Pharmacy Technician

Individuals can earn additional certifications if they aspire to specialize and advance in their careers. For example, the PTCB offers the:

  • Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv) certification, a credential that signifies an individual has advanced expertise as a pharmacy technician
  • Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician (CSPT) certification, a credential that indicates an individual has expertise in preventing contamination while performing compounding processes for pharmaceuticals

Job Outlook for Pharmacy Technicians 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 6% job growth for pharmacy technicians between 2022 and 2032. That rate is double the BLS projected growth of 3% across all occupations during that time period. 

According to the BLS, factors such as an aging population and the prevalence of chronic disease will drive growth in the pharmacy technician profession. The BLS also predicts the duties of pharmacy technicians related to pharmacy operations will expand as the pharmacists with whom they work continue to assume more patient care responsibilities. 

Become a Pharmacy Technician and Serve a Vital Role in Healthcare

Ensuring patients get the medication they need is a critical component of improving patients’ health. The work that pharmacy technicians perform is an essential part of our nation’s healthcare system. 

If you are interested in pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician, you would do well to explore the Fortis pharmacy technician training programs to learn how they can help you achieve your goals. Offering students the expertise to enter the pharmacy technician profession, those programs can be the starting point for a rewarding career. 

Take the first step on your pharmacy technician career path today.

Recommended Readings
How Pharmacy Technicians Can Help Seniors Understand Their Medications
Pharmacy Technician vs. Pharmacist
What Is an Infusion Pharmacy Technician?

Indeed, “Job Description for a Pharmacy Technician: Primary Duties”
McKesson, “How COVID-19 Magnified the Role of Pharmacy Techs”
National Healthcareer Association, Your Path to ExCPT Pharmacy Technician Certification, Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)
National Pharmacy Technician Association, What Is a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv) 
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician (CSPT)
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, Practice Settings
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, State Regulations and Map
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, “PTCB Releases 2022 Pharmacy Technician Workforce Survey Results”
Pharmacy Times, “Role of Pharmacy Technicians Continues to Grow in Post-COVID-19 Era”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pharmacy Technicians
WebMD, “What Is a Pharmacy Technician?”