CAREER GUIDE FOR Pharmacy Technicians

SOC Code: 29-2052


Pay Band(s): 2      (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description:  Prepare medications under the direction of a pharmacist. May measure, mix, count, label, and record amounts and dosages of medications.

Pharmacy Technician positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Role in the Direct Service Career Group:

Direct Service Associate II


Although Pharmacy Technician positions in the Commonwealth primarily are located in the Direct Service Career Group, individuals may want to pursue related occupational or management opportunities depending upon individual education, training and experience.


Pharmacy Technicians may also have career opportunities in the following Career Group(s):


Pharmaceutical Services

Program Administration

Administration and Office Support


(Technical and Functional Expertise)



Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Pharmacy Technicians commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


1.      Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

2.      Talking to others to convey information effectively.

3.      Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem solving and decision-making.

4.      Actively looking for ways to help people.

5.      Teaching others how to do something.

6.      Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

7.      Using mathematics to solve problems.

8.      Managing one's own time and the time of others.

9.      Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

10.  Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.



Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Pharmacy Technicians commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


The Knowledge of:


1.      Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

2.      Principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

3.      Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

4.      Information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.



Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Pharmacy Technicians commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


The Ability to:


1.      Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

2.      Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

3.      Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

4.      See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

5.      Speak clearly so others can understand you.

6.      Identify and understand the speech of another person.

7.      Arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

8.      Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

9.      Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

10.  Quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.



Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Pharmacy Technicians.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 


1.      Receive written prescription or refill requests and verify that information is complete and accurate.

2.      Maintain proper storage and security conditions for drugs.

3.      Answer telephones, responding to questions or requests.

4.      Fill bottles with prescribed medications and type and affix labels.

5.      Assist customers by answering simple questions, locating items or referring them to the pharmacist for medication information.

6.      Price and file prescriptions that have been filled.

7.      Clean, and help maintain, equipment and work areas, and sterilize glassware according to prescribed methods.

8.      Establish and maintain patient profiles, including lists of medications taken by individual patients.

9.      Order, label, and count stock of medications, chemicals, and supplies, and enter inventory data into computer.

10.  Receive and store incoming supplies, verify quantities against invoices, and inform supervisors of stock needs and shortages.



Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.


The Pharmacy Technician occupation has the following characteristics:



Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.



Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.



Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.




Registration is required in Virginia before a person can perform the duties of a Pharmacy Technician.


 Information regarding registration can be obtained from the Virginia Board of Pharmacy's web site at


The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board administers the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination. This exam is voluntary in most States and displays the competency of the individual to act as a pharmacy technician. However, more States and employers are requiring certification as reliance on pharmacy technicians grows. Eligible candidates must have a high school diploma or GED and no felony convictions, and those who pass the exam earn the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).


Certified technicians must be recertified every 2 years. Technicians must complete 20 contact hours of pharmacy-related topics within the 2-year certification period to become eligible for recertification.



The Department of Labor provides the following information:


Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists provide medication and other healthcare products to patients. Technicians usually perform routine tasks to help prepare prescribed medication for patients, such as counting tablets and labeling bottles. Technicians refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist.


Successful pharmacy technicians are alert, observant, organized, dedicated, and responsible. They should be willing and able to take directions. They must enjoy precise work—details are sometimes a matter of life and death. Although a pharmacist must check and approve all their work, they should be able to work on their own without constant instruction from the pharmacist. Candidates interested in becoming pharmacy technicians cannot have prior records of drug or substance abuse.


The Virginia Area Health Education Centers Program provides additional information on this profession and lists the many Virginia educational institutions that offer degree programs for pharmacy technicians.


There is one recognized apprenticeable specialty associated with this occupation:
Pharmacist Assistant.

To learn about specific apprenticeship opportunities, please consult the Virginia U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship Training, Employer and Labor Services, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training office. Detailed information on Apprenticeship programs is available on the DOLI web site at

For general information about apprenticeships, training, and partnerships with business, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship Training, Employer and Labor Services (OATELS) website.


A national organization, the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians, is also available to provide you information about this occupation and professional development opportunities.




Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.


The Commonwealth Competencies are:


1.      Technical and Functional Expertise

2.      Understanding the Business     

3.      Achieving Results

4.      Serving the Customer

5.      Teamwork

6.      Interpersonal and Communication Skills

7.      Leadership and Personal Effectiveness


The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 


Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!


For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to:  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 




Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)


For example: Pharmacy Technicians



Practitioner Roles




Direct Service Associate II




Direct Service Associate III




Sample Career Path

Direct Service Associate II

The Direct Service Associate II role provides career tracks for pharmacy assistants who perform responsibilities ranging from entry-level to journey-level. Duties are varied, requiring specialized knowledge to perform tasks in assigned specialty areas and procedures relevant to the pharmacy. 


Direct Service Associate III

The Direct Service Associate III role provides career tracks for health care support specialists that are either service delivery experts or supervisors. As service delivery experts, employees provide or lead specialized services that support the work of interdisciplinary treatment teams, licensed clinical staff, and professional counselors. This role also provides career tracks for human rights advocates. As supervisors, employees supervise other Direct Service Workers, develop staff schedules, evaluate staff performance, serve as members of interdisciplinary treatment teams, make minor changes in treatment and program plans, write reports, make oral presentations, and review client records for appropriate documentation.




O*NET (Occupational Information Network)


Virginia Employment Commission


Career One Stop

Virginia Career Resource Network


Pharmacy Technician Certification Board


American Society of Health-System Pharmacists


American Association of Pharmacy Technicians