What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?

by Jennifer Bradford on January 7, 2010

I love my local pharmacy; I even like the big chain pharmacy for some things. One thing I’ve recently learned is that not all of the people behind the pharmacy counter are pharmacists. Heck, not even most of them, apparently.


In the pharmacy I frequent, there are usually two pharmacy technicians and one pharmacist there at the same time. During slower hours, there may only be one technician, but there is at least one at all times. I had previously assumed that there was the pharmacist, who put the medications in the bottles, and the other people who stocked shelves or worked as cashiers. It’s amazing the kinds of misconceptions you can have, and how completely wrong they can be.

I found out that these other employees were pharmacy technicians – not cashiers – one day when I saw Brenda, the lady I usually talk with when I come in to fill my prescriptions, helping the pharmacist fill some prescriptions. Normally, she just hands me my prescription when I come in and takes my money. I suppose it is possible that she has been busy before helping the pharmacist previously, and I simply hadn’t noticed, but nevertheless I finally did notice. Being the curious person that I am, I asked if she was training to be a pharmacist, and she said no, that she was quite happy with her position as a pharmacy technician. A what? I didn’t even know this position existed, and I certainly knew nothing about the job description. I asked her to tell me all about it.

Apparently, most states don’t require formal training or certification to become a pharmacy technician, although some do. In our pharmacy, she worked her way up from cashier to pharmacy technician when she realized the work was more challenging, the hours more regular, and the pay higher. She is allowed to help the pharmacist do pretty much anything – with supervision, of course. She can help prepare prescriptions, look up information for customers, and help the doctors’ offices when they call. While the pay is not phenomenal, depending on the area, it averages about $12-$15 per hour; it is quite good for a position that usually requires no previous training or education. Most pharmacies are more than happy to train technicians when they hire them.

Becoming a pharmacy technician is a great choice for people who want a challenging and rewarding career in the field of medicine but have not had the time or money to pursue their education. It is also great for people who are interested in, or going to school to become, a pharmacist. Have you ever thought about becoming a pharmacy technician? If so, how did you find out about this career field?


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

John 01.16.10 at 8:21 pm

“$9” ? When was this piece written?

Jennifer Bradford 01.19.10 at 1:01 pm


You’re right, I went back and pulled the most recent numbers, and the average is $12-15/hour. I’ve updated the post as well.

Evangeline Ancheta 01.21.10 at 10:22 pm

Newly graduates really has to start the entry-level for Pharmacy Tech. They should be given a chance to be properly trained until they become a full-pledge Pharmacy Tech.


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