Qualities of a Good Pharmacy Tech

As assistants to licensed pharmacists, pharmacy technicians have the potential to earn a solid salary while picking from many available job openings. Before you invest the time and money necessary to obtain pharmacy technician certification, however, it's helpful to think about whether or not you possess the qualities that are needed to be successful in this profession. Although a training program can provide you with the knowledge you need to perform the daily duties of a pharmacy technician, it still takes a certain natural personality type to be compatible with this work on a daily basis.

A successful pharmacy technician possesses:

  • Communications skills: Pharmacy technicians must have strong written and verbal communications skills. Proficiency in English is vital and you must be able to use medical terms, abbreviations, and symbols correctly. Fluency in Spanish is highly desired in pharmacy settings that involve working with a large number of Hispanic patients.
  • Mathematics skills: Preparing prescriptions correctly requires making many different mathematical calculations. For example, you need to be able to determine the usual dosage of a medication or the correct strength of a particular solution.
  • People skills: Pharmacy technicians must work with a variety of people each day. They assist the licensed pharmacists on staff and work with other pharmacy technicians or pharmacy aides. They must also deal with customers who are picking up medication, which entails being sensitive to people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.
  • Attention to detail: The work of a pharmacy technician is extremely important, since mistakes can have serious consequences for the health and well being of a patient. Careless errors are not tolerated in this profession.
  • Empathy for others: In a pharmacy, you will often encounter people who are ill or in pain. The best pharmacy technicians are those who enjoy using their skills to help others.
  • Problem-solving ability: Pharmacy technicians may encounter issues such as patients being unable to afford their medication, experiencing undesirable side effects, or not recognizing potentially dangerous drug interactions. Taking a proactive approach to resolving problems is necessary to be a successful pharmacy technician.
  • Independent decision-making ability: While a pharmacy technician is supervised by a licensed pharmacist, the emphasis on cost-cutting in the health care industry means that pharmacy technicians have more independent responsibility than ever before.
  • Commitment to ethical behavior: Dispensing medication requires a pharmacy technician to have access to confidential personal information regarding a patient's medical history. Pharmacy technicians must also be able to spot the signs of prescription drug abuse.
  • Focus on professional development: New medications are developed every day and laws regarding the distribution of medication change regularly. In order to be successful as a pharmacy technician, you must be able to keep up with these developments. Pharmacy technician certification requirements state that you need to complete a certain number of continuing education courses in order to keep your certification current.

If you think you have the qualities needed to be a successful pharmacy technician, you have a number of different training programs to pick from. There are programs that offer diplomas and certificates, as well as those that award an associate's degree for completion.

Pharmacy technician training programs can be found through hospitals, vocational schools, community colleges, and the military. Programs vary in length, ranging from six months to two years. Most programs will help you prepare for your pharmacy technician certification exam, although you won't actually complete the exam until you've graduated from the program.

Pharmacy Technicians vs. Pharmacy Aides

If you are interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, you may be wondering if technicians and aides are considered interchangeable. Although the general public often views these jobs as the same, they are two distinct professions. Pharmacy technicians have been trained to prepare prescriptions and mix medication. They are most often certified after undergoing formal training. In comparison, the role of a pharmacy aide is to perform administrative functions, such as operating cash registers, stocking shelves, and answering phones. Aides do not need certification and generally receive all of their training from their employers.

Last Updated: 05/12/2014