Types of Pharmacy Technicians

Smiling pharmacy tech

True or False?

Pharmacy technician jobs are the same across the board, no matter where or how long you work in the field.

That statement is a big, resounding: FALSE!

Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of settings which require some varying functions. With experience and continuous education, they can become specialized, which can lead to some pretty fascinating , and more advanced positions.

Pharmacy Technician Workplaces

Generally, many pharmacy technicians work in a retail or community style setting, such as a pharmacy in a drug store, department store or grocery store or an independent or chain pharmacy. Even roles in these types of settings can vary by workplace, whether it is enjoying interacting with customers within a multicultural community or serving a dual role, like dividing time between the pharmacy and health/beauty/wellness section of the store.

But additional workplace opportunities exist, and even first-time pharmacy technicians can sometimes land a job at some of these places. These include, but are not limited to, hospitals, outpatient care centers, long term care facilities, specialty pharmacies, online/mail-order pharmacies, research labs, pharmaceutical companies, colleges, health insurance companies, pharmacy service companies, for the Department of Veterans Affairs or for one of the Department of Defense’s military departments.

Naturally pharmacy technician tasks will vary by workplace and employer. For example, for an organization or center conducting research, a pharmacy tech may assist with clinical trials. For an insurance company, he or she may function as a prior authorization representative.

Or in a hospital,  one pharmacy technician role might be delivering medications to patients in their rooms.

Hospitals are also great settings for pharmacy technicians to start learning new and specialized skills.

Tip: Even if your state does not require you to become a certified pharmacy technician, becoming a CPhT will lead to more career opportunities.

Pharmacy Technician Specialties

Pharmacy technician specialties are gained through a combination of gradual, on-the-job training from veteran members of the pharmacy team and through continued education, such as courses, certificate programs (like through the NPTA), CE activities or even an advanced degree.

Examples of pharmacy technician specialties include:

  • Sterile products (i.e. IV)
  • Procurement (such as budget, inventory and drug selection/recall management)
  • Chemotherapy
  • HIV treatment or prevention agents
  • Compounding
  • Vaccines and Immunization
  • Experience in particular technologies, such as automated medication dispensing systems
  • And More!

Advanced Pharmacy Technician Roles

If you want to be inspired, read or listen to stories of pharmacy technicians who have risen up the ranks within their field.

The PTCB (Pharmacy Technician Certification Board), for example, profiles success stories of numerous CPhTs (certified pharmacy technicians). They highlight those that hold such job titles as Day Lead Technician at a children’s hospital, Pharmacy Technician Instructor and Program Director at a college, Pharmacy Technician Supervisor at an air force base and Pharmacy Affairs Program Manager for a national organization.

You can learn from these role models by visiting: www.ptcb.org/about-ptcb/news-room/cpht-spotlight

Further Reading

Check out these interviews and articles that may interest you as you continue to learn more about the different types of pharmacy technician jobs: