Profile: Certified Pharmacy Technician

Learn about the experience of a pharmacy technician professional.

Randy Brown
Pharmacy Technician Program Director
MedVance Institute – Houston, TX

What started as a teenage boy’s way to earn pocket money after school turned into a career for Randy Brown. A pharmacy technician professional for over ten years, Brown is now director of the Pharmacy Technician program at MedVance Institute.

“A pharmacy technician is there to serve the pharmacist,” Brown explained. “You can do just about everything a pharmacist does from start to finish as long as you’re supervised by the pharmacist.”

What are some of your daily duties as a pharmacy technician?

In the typical pharmacy technician career, [you’ll do] everything from receiving prescriptions, to mixing medications, creams and ointments, to preparing IVs and transcribing data. Techs are not allowed to do consultations on specific medications or take new prescriptions on the phone. But as far as all other work is concerned, techs can do everything.

How does education prepare you for pharmacy work?

MedVance’s program, like other pharmacy technician programs, prepares students for work as well as the certification exam. We have computer applications classes where students learn to type, general anatomy and physiology classes, basic math classes that teach pharmacy calculations, and practical applications such as how to dispense medicine.

The program is eight months long and can either be completed during the daytime or evening. Many students work their way through school. For aspiring pharmacists, a pharmacy tech job provides a source of income during pharmacy school and a glimpse of what life as a pharmacist is like.

The MedVance program requires a 160-hour externship program where students get hands-on training. At program completion, MedVance is able to place more than 80 percent of its students in full-time jobs.

What are some unique opportunities you encounter as a pharmacy tech?

This is a stable job. All the jobs I’ve seen have had a multitude of benefits, including insurance, a 401K and tuition reimbursement.

I don’t know what it’s like to feel unemployable. Financially it might be hard to raise a family on $25,000 or $30,000 a year, but it’s better than raising a family on minimum wage. The bulk of the students that we get are working minimum wage-type jobs. From the point they leave MedVance, they will always find a decent paying position.

What type of personality will do well as a pharmacy technician?

Being a pharmacy technician professional is for self-starters, people who are easily motivated. Being science and math oriented is a plus, since that’s the bulk of what we deal with. You need to be able to do simple multiplication and division in your head.

You have to have a general liking for the public. When you’re working in retail pharmacy, you have to deal with patients all day long. Also, hospitals and pharmacies for the most part never close, so you have to be willing to give up a holiday or work late. In general, there’s so much opportunity and stability in health care. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. That’s the biggest selling point to this type of career.

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