Medical Healthcare

What Is the Difference Between a Pharmacy Tech and a Pharmacist?

Medical - HealthcareApril 06, 2017

Interested in the pharmacy profession but not exactly sure what the difference is between pharmacists and pharmacy technicians? You are not alone! Both of these professions are in demand and the need for their services will continue to grow. However, there are distinct differences between the two. Let’s take a closer look.

Main Differences

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians work closely together. Both have the job of pouring medications, mixing medications, and weighing the medication for accuracy. They both deal with insurance companies, physicians, and customers.

However, they each have distinct roles and different education requirements. Below are the main differences between these two pharmaceutical industry professionals.

1. Education

The first – and biggest -- difference between a pharmacist and a pharmacy technician is the level of education achieved by each.

Pharmacy Technicians - Education requirements for pharmacy technicians vary by state, with very few states not requiring any formal training beyond high school while most other states require formal training and achieving a certification upon graduation.

There is no standardized national education requirement, however, pharmacy technicians have to pass the PTCE – a standardized test administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). This certification is recognized in all fifty states.

Pharmacists - Pharmacists are required to hold a doctorate degree in pharmacology. The PharmD degree (or doctor of pharmacy) is a six-year degree. Following this education, a one-year internship under a licensed pharmacist must be completed. Finally, the NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) test must be passed and the individual must register with the Board of Pharmacy in their state.

2. Duties

Pharmacy Technicians - Pharmacy technicians work closely with pharmacists. The pharmacy technician may accept a prescription from the patient, but they are not allowed to dispense a medication without having it reviewed and approved by a pharmacist. When the medication is packed and labeled, the pharmacist must review it for accuracy before it is delivered to the patient.

Pharmacy technicians also assist the pharmacist by performing administrative tasks such as running the cash register, filing paperwork, processing insurance claims, and tracking inventory. They do not give medical advice to patients.

Pharmacists - The pharmacist is responsible for everything that happens in the pharmacy. They are in charge of the pharmacy technicians and create medications from the ingredients specified. They are required to double-check each prescription before it is sold to the patient. They must ensure that each prescription sold in their pharmacy is legal and valid, making sure that all regulations are strictly adhered to.

Pharmacists spend a good portion of their day giving medical advice to patients. In some states, pharmacists are allowed to write prescriptions for commonly prescribed non-regulated medications, such as antibiotics or mild pain relievers.