To be a Pharmacy Technician, you will need to become nationally certified. There are two different ways to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). First, you can apply for a job at a local retail pharmacy, such as a CVS Pharmacy or a Wal-Greens, as a PSA (Pharmacy Service Associate). As a PSA you will be the pharmacy's cashier and will also assist customers with dropping off prescriptions. Most major retail pharmacies have a program for PSAs to become CPhTs and will most often assist in your training and pay for you to take the national CPhT test. Second, you may either sign up for a local class that will help you prepare for the test or study on your own and take the test when you feel prepared. For more information on the test, please see www.PTCB.org.
Depending on what section of pharmacy you decide to work in, as a CPhT you will be required to do all or some of the following: Typing prescriptions into the computer; compounding oral solutions, ointments, and creams; assisting the pharmacist in labeling and filling prescriptions; ordering medications, assisting patients in dropping off and picking up prescriptions; answering phone calls and assisting patients with refills; working with insurance carriers to obtain payments and refilling authority; and preparing IV mixtures.
A retail pharmacy (also known as a community pharmacy) are where most patients get their prescriptions filled. Retail pharmacies carry all commercially available prescriptions and over the counter (OTC) drugs. They provide these drugs to patients with a prescription from their doctor. As a CPhT in a retail pharmacy you will be paid approximately $19,000 per year (according to the American Medical Association) There is much room to advance while working in retail pharmacy, and as you advance so will your salary.
Compounding pharmacies are where patients go to receive special medications that are not commercially available. For example, patients who are elderly and are no longer able to swallow pills would go to a compounding pharmacy for their medications. At a compounding pharmacy, the medication could be made into a suspension for the patient to drink, a cream for the patient to apply, a suppository, or into an IV injection. Compounding pharmacies also make a lot of medications for animals and children. A CPhT will be paid approximately $25,000 per year at a compounding pharmacy (please go to www.salaryexpert.com, www.salary.com, or www.payscale.com for more information). Like retail pharmacy, there is room for advancement and if you advance, your salary will as well.
Many nationwide insurance companies hire CPhTs for their prior authorization department. Generally this is the highest paid CPhT position available. As a CPhT for an insurance company, you would be in charge of authorizing drugs for patients who are requesting drugs that are not covered on their insurance plan. You will also be required to answer phone calls from patients to answer questions concerning their coverage and assist them with prior authorization process. As a CPhT for an insurance company you will be paid approximately $30,000 per year and up to $40,000 per year (please go to www.salaryexpert.com, www.salary.com, or www.payscale.com for more information).
As a Certified Pharmacy Technician, there are many different divisions in pharmacy that you may choose to work in. You may work in a retail pharmacy, a compounding pharmacy, or work as a Certified Pharmacy Technician for an insurance company. Depending on the division you choose you can be paid up to $40,000 dollars per year.