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You don't need years of medical school to work as a pharmacy technician, but you do need to know a bit of math. On the job, you'll use math concepts such as percentages, algebra, ratios and fractions to measure out medication, fill prescriptions and keep tabs on the pharmacy's inventory. It's important for you to understand math concepts in several measurement systems so customers get the correct amount of medication needed.
Measurement Systems and Conversions
As a pharmacy technician, you'll spend much of your time on the job measuring medications. You will need a firm grasp on several measurement systems -- especially the metric, avoirdupois and apothecary systems. The apothecary system is used for measuring some thyroid drugs and aspirin. The avoirdupois system is commonly used for prepackaged or bulk medications. Drug doses are typically given in milligrams, grams or milliliters, so you'll use the metric system most often. You'll also need to know how to convert prescriptions between measurement systems. Pharmacy computer systems use metric measurements for medication doses, for example, but prescriptions are often given to customers in ounces, teaspoons or drops.
Algebra and Accounting
To perform measurement conversions, some basic algebra is required. For example, you'll need to multiply numbers to get a bigger measurement or divide numbers to find a smaller measurement. You will also be working with fractions and percentages. Pharmacy technicians should have some knowledge of accounting, including concepts of inventory management, accounts payable and accounts receivable. You'll take payment from customers for medications, and you may need to relay payment information to the customer's insurance company.
2016 Salary Information for Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians earned a median annual salary of $30,920 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, pharmacy technicians earned a 25th percentile salary of $25,170, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $37,780, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 402,500 people were employed in the U.S. as pharmacy technicians.
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