Pharmacy technicians perform a variety of tasks within pharmacies alongside doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. In this role, a worker will identify, dispense, package, and label medications that are then reviewed by a pharmacist.
Pharmacy technicians may also be responsible for processing insurance claims, inventory updates, compounding medications, repackaging bulk medications, and preparing and dispensing prescriptions for patients.
Having a good knowledge of certain types of mathematics is a skill necessary for successful pharmacy techs. Basic algebra, an understanding of temperature conversions, and the ability to decode complex word problems all contribute to a well-rounded mathematical background in this career path.
What are the Educational Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
To become a pharmacy technician, a person must have a high school degree or equivalent. Many pharmacy technicians also choose to earn a relevant associate’s degree or complete a certification program.
Associate degree programs that benefit prospective pharmacy technicians generally take two years to complete. These programs are especially useful because they offer students hands-on experience through internships.
Certification programs are offered both online and in-person, and take less time to complete; some in as little as nine months while including valuable hands-on learning opportunities in pharmacies.
Both an associate degree program and a certificate program will help prepare students for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). Passing the exam earns technicians a credential that demonstrates their “knowledge and commitment in medication safety and effective patient care across pharmacy settings.” While earning this certification isn’t required by all pharmacy employers, many prefer and some do require their technicians to have it.
What is the Average Salary of a Pharmacy Technician?
The median annual wage for pharmacy technicians is $36,740. On average, pharmacy techs earn $17.66 per hour. On the low end of the wage scale, pharmacy technicians make $28,740 while the highest-earning 10 percent make over $47,580 according to a 2021 survey.
Pharmacy technicians who work in state, local, or private hospitals earn higher wages than those who work in grocery or drug stores. Higher levels of education and experience in the field may also contribute to higher wages.
What is the Job Growth Trend for Pharmacy Technicians?
Those pursuing careers as pharmacy technicians should feel confident that the industry is growing at a steady rate. Pharmacy technician job opportunities are expected to grow by 4% between 2020-2030.
California, Texas, and Florida have the most employment opportunities for pharmacy technicians in the U.S. California and Texas also have higher-than-average wages for this position at $49,990 and $38,330, respectively.
Why is it Important to Learn Math as a Pharmacy Technician?
Having a grasp of relevant mathematical concepts will make you a stronger pharmacy technician. It’s crucial that patients receive accurate dosages of prescribed medicine and even small math errors may create huge issues for patients, including injury or death.
Math problems are some of the most challenging parts of the PTCE offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The four main types of pharmacy mathematics problems are weight, volume, temperature, and time. Pharmacy tech math problems are mainly presented as complex word problems, but also include some algebra calculations.
Specific examples of pharmacy technician math subjects:
Proportions and ratios problems
Converting Fahrenheit to Celsius, or vice versa
Roman numerals used in pharmacy abbreviations
Mathematical equations related to dilution
Dosage for children and adults
Basic understanding of fractions and fraction conversions
These subjects may sound overwhelming, but with practice, students will become familiar with the mathematical concepts involved in a career as a pharmacy technician. There are many online and video resources available to those who want to better understand pharmacy tech mathematics.
Interested in our pharmacy technician education program? Learn more here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is pharmacy tech math hard to learn?
Though the various types of pharmacy tech math may seem hard to learn, with continued practice these concepts will become second-nature. Certification programs and in-pharmacy training will help prepare prospective pharmacy technicians.
How long does it take to become a pharmacy technician?
Pharmacy technician programs can be completed in as few as nine months. Relevant associate degree programs take an average of two years to complete.
How much does a pharmacy tech make annually?
The median annual wage for pharmacy technicians as of 2021 is $36,740. Wages for pharmacy techs are higher in certain states and for those with more education and experience.
Is a pharmacy technician a good career choice?
Becoming a pharmacy technician is a good career choice for those who want to work in the medical field, and who thrive in a role that requires logic and a solid understanding of mathematics. It is a portable career choice in that most locations have job opportunities for pharmacy techs.