Approximately 70% of the 350,000 pharmacy technicians in the United States are employed in the retail setting. Pharmacy technicians in this setting help dispense approximately 2.5 billion prescriptions per year.
Responsibilities for chain pharmacy technicians include processing customer prescription data, filling and labeling medications, managing inventory, answering phone calls, dealing with insurance companies, and distributing medications to customers.
In some states, technicians may be responsible for taking new and refill prescription orders over the phone and transferring prescriptions between pharmacies.
Independent pharmacies represent approximately 40% of all community pharmacies in the United States and employee thousands of pharmacy technicians nationwide. Responsibilities are similar to those in the chain setting, but may also include compounding, filling specialty packaging, and delivering medications directly to patients.
Approximately 17% of all pharmacy technicians work in a hospital setting. Responsibilities include interpreting written prescription orders, performing pharmacy calculations, compounding medications, refilling automated medication dispensers, medication reconciliation, and delivering medications to patients within the hospital.
Becoming certified will make you more competitive to gain employment as a hospital pharmacy technician.
Health insurance plans and pharmacy benefit managers both employ pharmacy technicians to ensure high-quality services. Common duties include interacting with customers about offered pharmacy services, reviewing prior authorization requests, claims adjudication, and providing ongoing education and training to physician’s offices and facilities.
Less than 10% of pharmacy technicians work in the managed care setting.
In nuclear pharmacy, technicians are trained and certified in handling and preparing radioactive medications. Roles for technicians in this setting include performing mathematical calculations, compounding, labeling, inventory management, and ensuring that radiopharmaceuticals are safely handled and transported.
Less than 1% of pharmacy technicians have the required specialized training to work in a nuclear pharmacy.
The pharmaceutical industry develops, produces, and markets drugs. In this setting, responsibilities may include triage and coordination of drug information requests, assisting with literature searches, writing drug information documents, and other quality assurance processes.
Local, state, and federal government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Veterans Administration, Indian Health Service, and Armed Forces all require the expertise of skilled pharmacy technicians.
In these settings, technicians can engage in a number of tasks, including receiving and reviewing prescriptions, inventory management of drug products and pharmaceutical supplies, medication replenishment in automated pharmacy dispensing systems, compounding, and dispensing medications to patients.
Other careers options for pharmacy technicians can be found in mail-order pharmacy, home infusion, poison control, and academia.
Check out this comprehensive salary guide from Alex Barker.
Career opportunities for pharmacists can be found here.
- Fung S, Gilmour C, McCracken D, et al. Nontraditional Roles for Certified Pharmacy Technicians in a Pharmaceutical Company. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2006;46(4):507-510.
- Nelson D. Job Description for Managed Care Technicians. Houston Chronicle. 12 July 2015.
- Pharmacy Technician Careers. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. 12 July 2015.
- Pharmacy Technicians. Careers in the Military. 12 July 2015.
- What is a nuclear pharmacy technician? V-Tecs.org: Pharmacy Technician Career Guide. Web. 12 July 2015.
- What is the Role of a Pharmacy Technician? Pharmacy Tech Pros. 11 July 2015.
Timothy O'Shea, MS, PharmD
Timothy O'Shea, MS, PharmD, is a Clinical Pharmacist working at a regional health insurance plan on the east coast. Additionally he works per diem at a nationwide retail pharmacy chain. He graduated from MCPHS University - Boston in 2015 and subsequently completed a PGY-1 Managed Care Pharmacy Residency. He completed his M.S. in Health Services Administration, with a focus on Health Economics and Outcomes, in 2018. His professional interests include pharmacy legislation and managed care pharmacy. He can be followed on Twitter at @toshea125.