Pharmacy Technician Specialties
When you think of pharmacy technicians, you probably think of the friendly face behind the counter at retailers like CVS, Walgreens, or your local grocery store. But that’s not the only place pharmacy technicians can be found.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians work in a variety of industries, including hospitals, ambulatory clinics, community pharmacies, and mail-order pharmacies. 1
One way pharmacy technicians may be able to pursue other career paths is through specialization or obtaining additional credentials. Technicians can gain specialized skills in areas such as sterile compounding, pharmacy automation, hazardous drug management, revenue cycle management, health (including telehealth) information systems, and vaccine administration.2
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) Credentials
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board is an independent certifying organization for pharmacy technicians in the United States. PTCB offers both certifications and certificates to help verify a pharmacy technician’s competency in a variety of areas.3
PTCB Certifications evaluate a pharmacy technician’s knowledge and have continuing education requirements. Pharmacy technicians with PTCB certifications can place an acronym after their name if they maintain the credential.
PTCB Certificates assess the learning outcomes from a PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program. These certificates don’t expire or require maintenance.
Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)4 — A CPhT credential is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board’s first credential. Certification requires that technicians demonstrate knowledge of and commitment to medication safety and effective patient care across pharmacy settings.
Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician (CSPT)5 — This certification is obtained bt pharmacy technicians who wish to demonstrate advanced knowledge of sterile techniques. Pharmacy technicians may need to compound and prepare medications in a sterile environment for health and safety reasons.
Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv)6— CPhTs who earn the CPhT-Adv Certification have demonstrated expertise and experience in their field. To be eligible for a CPhT-Adv credential, a pharmacy technician needs at least three years of experience and to have completed a number of PTCB certificate courses.
Medication History Certificate7 — This certificate indicates the ability to collect in-depth and accurate medication histories, review prescriptions to confirm dosing accuracy, and complete detailed administrative functions.
Technician Product Verification Certificate — This certificate indicates skills in safeguarding patients from dispensing errors.
Hazardous Drug Management Certificate — This certificate indicates competency in reducing risk through enhanced knowledge of guidelines and requirements for safely managing hazardous drugs.
Billing and Reimbursement Certificate — This certificate verifies the holder’s understanding of third-party payers and reimbursement systems utilized within the pharmacy.
Controlled Substances Diversion Prevention Certificate — This certificate involves controlled substance diversion prevention strategies and DEA requirements, especially in regard to prescription opioids.
Immunization Administration Certificate — This training program teaches how to safely deliver immunizations and carry out related tasks. This course covers not only safe patient care but also the public health need to protect communities.
Point-of-Care Testing Certificate — This certificate covers point-of-care services and testing—such as coronavirus testing in pharmacies.
Medication Therapy Management Certificate8 — This certificate indicates knowledge of medication utilization and medication-related issues, prescribing accuracy, patient safety, and the administration of medication therapy management
Different Pharmacy Technician Work Settings9
In many pharmacies, technicians handle the following tasks:
- Accurately prepare and distribute patient medications;
- Perform calculations;
- Prepare sterile medicines including those used to treat cancer;
- Collect accurate patient information
- Process third-party billing claims and assist with prior authorization completion;
- Work directly with patients to obtain medication histories and reconciliation;
- Assist in the management of investigational drug studies;
- Use technology to help maintain accurate patient records, medication inventory, and orders, and;
- Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
State laws dictate exactly what duties pharmacy technicians are allowed to perform.
These duties may also vary depending on the work settings, such as hospitals vs community pharmacies vs clinics.
Pharmacy Technicians in Hospitals and Health Systems
Pharmacy technician jobs in hospitals and health systems may involve more direct patient care. For example, in a hospital, a pharmacy technician may need to prepare sterile medications, take medical histories, or deliver medications directly to patients.
Community pharmacies such as those inside local grocery or drug stores provide pharmacy technicians with a great deal of customer interaction. Technicians may receive paper prescriptions from patients or electronic prescriptions from healthcare providers. Technicians may establish and maintain patient profiles, as well as process insurance claims.
Mail Order Pharmacies
Mail order pharmacy jobs provide the most independent work setting for pharmacy technicians. Mail-order pharmacies prepare prescriptions that are delivered directly to patients, which means they may serve a wider range of customers than a community pharmacy.
Learn More About Working as a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians hold a unique place in healthcare. They get to interact with customers as well as doctors, pharmacists, and other medical professionals and are able to work in a variety of settings. Learn more about how to become a pharmacy technician with our Pharmacy Technician Guide.