A pharmacy technician in Pennsylvania assists a licensed pharmacist in distributing prescriptions to customers or patients. Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of pharmaceutical industries. They can be categorized into two groups – clinical and non-clinical. Many pharmacy technicians in Pennsylvania work in clinical settings such as a live-in nursing, assisted living, rehabilitation facilities, or in hospitals. In this type of environment pharmacy techs have a basic knowledge of reading patient charts and are required to administer dosages once the pharmacist has checked the amount. The role of a pharmacy tech may be dual or focus on specific sets of tasks required by their pharmacist. Non-clinical settings are in medical science, healthcare IT, and pharmaceutical sales, and retail locations.
Pharmacy technicians must have good organizational skills and basic math knowledge. They are typically responsible for handling basic duties such as answering phone calls, stocking products, working the register, and customer service. They often handle the main administrative and front end of the pharmacy; especially in a retail setting.
Beyond the administrative type of work, the typical job duties of a pharmacy technician in Pennsylvania will vary, depending on state regulations and rules. Pharmacy technicians accept written prescriptions or refill requests from customers. They also check for incoming electronic prescriptions from many doctor’s offices in their area. They are required to verify that the customer’s information is complete and accurate, the accuracy of the information on the prescription, and sometimes even information from the patient’s driver’s license. In many instances, the pharmacy technician will retrieve, count, pour, measure, weigh, or mix the prescribed medication. Once they prepare the prescription, affix the proper label, and seal the contain they must then file the prescription for the pharmacist to review. The pharmacist will review all medications prior to giving them to the customer. This is to ensure the proper dosage and medication has been issued. Pharmacy technicians are in charge of verifying a customer’s insurance and notifying them of their current prescription benefits, including copays or fees due. They also maintain a customer’s patient profile ensuring the information is accurate.
In a clinical setting, pharmacy technicians are required to read patient charts and prepare the appropriate medication needed on a daily basis. Once a pharmacist checks the prescription ensuring it is accurate, the technician may deliver it to the patient or nurse. In some cases, technicians may have to assemble a 24-hour medicine supply for each patient, depending on the type of facility.
Many retails locations are stand-alone pharmacies owned by the pharmacist or a group of pharmacists. Often, they are owned by larger retail outlets that offer grocery type services, photo development, with a pharmacy inside. This type of retail location may offer 24-hour pharmacy services. Many grocery and super store chains have a small pharmacy located on the premise.
Becoming a pharmacy technician in Pennsylvania is easy due to the lax requirements regarding licensing and certification. They do not require any type of regulation or registration. This makes it easy for people to take classes and find jobs in the field. It is recommended to separate yourself from the competition by obtaining national certification.
Internships are typical in Pennsylvania. A pharmacist can hire an individual that can pass the basic requirements –passing a background check, no felonies, or drug-related charges-- for the job. There are protocols in place that the pharmacist will follow as they train and supervise the technician beneath them. On the job training is lessening, as many pharmacists prefer to hire those with an educational background.
Pharmacy technicians work full-time. Depending on the type of pharmacy – hospital, live-in facilities, or retail – shifts may vary. In some cases, pharmacy techs in Pennsylvania may work overnights or weekends, and even some holidays. Pharmacy technicians are offered great benefits such as medical and dental insurance, paid sick leave, vacation, and holiday pay. Typical hours for retail locations are 9 to 5, Monday through Friday with limited hours on Saturdays.
Pharmacy technicians work in clean and organized work areas that are well ventilated and lit. Retail settings are less secure than assisted living facilities or hospitals. There is a risk of armed robbery. Knowing the protocols set in place and following them can keep you safe.
Pharmacy Technician Career Outlook
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationwide, reports that in 2014 there were 372,500 pharmacy technicians. Between 2014 – 2024, this field is projected to see a 9% (faster than average) increase.
Pharmacy Technician Salary
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median pay for pharmacy technicians is $30,410 per year or $14.62 per hour.
According to Career One Stop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, the average median pay in Pennsylvania is $28,700 per year or $13.81 per hour. It is close to the national average. Each city varies, and many may offer closer to the national average pay.
In Philadelphia, the average median pay is $30,500 per year or $14.64 per hour, higher than the national average. In Lebanon, the average median pay is $29,100 per year or $13.99 per hour. In Harrisburg-Carlisle, the average median pay is $29,000 per year or $13.92 per hour.
The Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy does not require licensure or hold any regulations for those pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician. However, the standard qualifications for a position as a pharmacy technician are as follows:
• At least 18-years old
• High school diploma or GED
• Pass a criminal background check
• Complete an American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) accredited pharmacy technician training program
Certification, on a national level, can be applied for through The Pharmacy Technician Board (PTCB) based in Washington, D.C. and must been the minimum requirements. Certification must be renewed within a 2-year period. Applicants are required to have a minimum of 20 contact hours of pharmacy-related topics of continuing education, 1 contact hour in pharmacy law, 1 contact hour on the topic of patient safety. Continuing education hours are not eligible to be used for recertification if taken prior to passing the PTCB examination. Excess hour beyond the required 20 hours may not be saved applied to later recertification.