Learn the difference between pharmacist and a pharmacy technician.

The Difference Between A Pharmacist and Pharmacy Technician


In 2019, healthcare professionals in the field of pharmacy have been working in one of the highest earning healthcare sectors, beating out nurses, physicians and physical therapists, among others. Millions of Americans come into contact with pharmacy professionals every day and they play a vital role in the overall healthcare machine. 


Thinking of entering the field of pharmacy? Two of the most common career paths in this field are the obvious pharmacist and maybe less obvious pharmacy technician. While they sound similar, there are some critical differences which set them apart. They are both essential to the day today operations of a pharmacy in their own right – read on to get in the know and make an informed decision!


What is a Pharmacy Technician?


A pharmacy technician is responsible for all the technical and administrative aspects of filling prescriptions and other functions of a pharmacy. They are involved in recording patient medical information, packing medications, inventory duties and so on. They often do not speak directly with the patient unless accompanied by a pharmacist, as their qualifications do not authorize them to give medical advice. 


As far as education requirements go, some states don’t even require formal post-secondary education beyond a high school diploma or any prior experience to become a technician. Many pharmacy technicians receive the bulk of their pharmacy training on the job. However, some employers prefer aspiring techs take a one- or two-year certificate program and get accredited, which opens doors to more opportunities, such as higher salary and wider range of job prospects.


What is a Pharmacist?


A pharmacist will learn everything that a pharmacist technician will, but their overall education will extend much farther and longer. A pharmacist is required to hold a doctorate in pharmacology, typically a six-year program. They also may choose to complete a pharmacy residency program as part of their education. 


The pharmacist is responsible for everything that happens by every employee in the pharmacy. They must double-check every prescription that is distributed and educate patients on the medication if they have never used it before. They are also responsible for explaining how new medications work and have the authority to offer health advice to patients.


people in pharmacy

Pharmacist & Pharmacy Technician Working Together


The two roles work closely together, and a pharmacy cannot operate smoothly without one or the other. A pharmacy technician assists the pharmacist in completing their daily duties; an administrative assistant to a manager would be a close comparison. Pharmacy techs can fill prescriptions, but they are not allowed to distribute them; they must be reviewed by the pharmacist first. 


In short, technicians are responsible for all of the technical aspects of filling prescriptions, where pharmacists are accountable for educating and clinically advising patients on actually taking the prescriptions. The onus is on the pharmacist to ensure the patients are being appropriately consulted before taking a new prescription.


Should I become a Pharmacist or Pharmacy Technician?


While they work side by side every day, the two roles are very different from one another, so naturally one or the other will be more attractive to different kinds of people. A pharmacy technician job may be more suited for someone who is highly organized and good with administrative tasks, and perhaps is not ready for the time and financial commitments associated with becoming a pharmacist.


A pharmacist is a higher paying position but does come with a heavier amount of responsibility – which some people thrive on. At the end of the day, it is a personal decision, and a technician always has the option of becoming a pharmacist if they decide they want to switch paths. 


If you’re looking for an awesome job in the field of pharmacy, look no further! Radius has lots of opportunities available, such as this one in New York or this pharmacy technician position in Minnesota! Reach out today to get started.

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