Schools Training

Increasing Responsibilities for Pharmacy Technicians

18 MAR 2014
Career Path : Pharmaceutical Quality Control

Quick Facts: Training, Employment, Salary

Based on a workforce review, Canadian pharmacy technicians are most often employed by hospitals–in fact, 43% of them work in hospitals. Thirty-seven percent work in chain/franchise pharmacies while the other 16$ find work in independent or community pharmacies.

The majority of pharmacy techs were trained by career or community colleges, graduating with a diploma or certificate. Of course, students who graduate with a degree as a technician find they receive a higher rate of pay ranging from $21k to 41k annually.

What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do, Exactly?

Pharmacy technicians’ roles generally take place in pharmacies, but a technician can also be employed by dispensaries, nursing homes, and insurance companies. Technicians play vital roles in the health care industry; they don’t have to be in the back of a pharmacy surrounded by medications!

The main duties of a (traditional) pharmacy tech are:

  • counting pills
  • package medications
  • properly label medications as directed
  • ensure the proper storage of medication, especially controlled substances
  • be able to answer simple questions asked by patients and know when to direct them to the pharmacist on staff
  • monitor drug inventory and ensure it’s properly maintained
  • mix drug compounds, including intravenous solutions
  • create and maintain patient records
  • process medical insurance claims
  • process payments

Is This a 9-5 Job?

It really depends on where a student is going to work. Oftentimes, a traditional technician is going to work the same hours as the pharmacist. If this is in a hospital environment, then most likely the hours are going to be extended as there always has to be a pharmacist and their staff on hand to prepare and dispense medication to hospitalized patients. This can include nights, weekend, and of course, holidays. If a technician is looking for regular work hours, then a hospital environment definitely isn’t the place to be!

Does a Technician Have to Have Any Certifications?

Most employers require a certificate from accredited and recognized pharmacy technician colleges. Some employers don’t require their employees to have taken but like any career, taking a board exam is more likely to get a student a good paying job.

The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada is responsible for offering board exams to both pharmacists and technicians to ensure that newly graduated students have the proper knowledge to successfully work in the pharmacy industry. Direct entry employees (i.e. those with on the job training but no formal education) can sit for the exam if they have 2,000 hours of work or teaching experience in the three years prior to the exams.

Students who are looking for a fast paced, evolving, and steady career in the health care industry can find all these criteria in a pharmacy technician job. Minus the blood and guts, this is an underrated but all too important healthcare job that needs the steady minds and critical thinking that many students possess.

Visit Herzing College for more information on pharmacy technician colleges.