What to Expect in Your First Pharmacy Technician Job

Starting your first Pharmacy Technician job can be daunting and stressful and it can often take several weeks or longer to feel comfortable in this new position. To help ease your transition to this new job, it is helpful to know what to expect so that you can be well prepared and successful. Read on to learn more about what to expect in your first Pharmacy Tech job.

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1. Expect to Attend Orientation and Training

If you are working in a retail community pharmacy, you will usually first attend an Orientation Program. After this, you will complete a register training shift at your pharmacy and several computer-based training modules. These modules will include General Policies and Procedures for each pharmacy station including drop off, production and pick up areas.

You will then be required to attend a series of classes with trainers pertaining to each workstation and then an on-the-job training shift.

2. Expect Your New Pharmacy Technician Job to Entail a Significant Amount of New Information

As you begin your new job as a Pharmacy Technician, you will be expected to absorb and remember a lot of new information. It is often helpful to keep a small notebook with you to write down important new information.

This new information can include:

  • Patient statements in the intake area that you need to document
  • The names of certain hard to remember medications
  • Details on how to access certain actions on the computer
  • A list of brand medication names and their generic equivalents
  • Usernames
  • Pass words
  • Door codes
  • Insurer billing codes
  • Insurer claims overrides and when to use them
  • Details on how to look up common insurers like Medicare and Medicaid.

3. Be Prepared to Work in the Prescription Drop-off Area

In the drop-off area, you will be accepting the patient’s prescription along with the patient’s insurance information, identifying information such as name, address and date of birth and updated medical and allergy information.

When you are in-putting the patient’s information, you will be updating patient information on new allergies to medications and any new medical conditions or new medications.

You should carefully read the prescription and screen it for any illegible or confusing handwriting paying close attention to zeros, decimal points and units to avoid any potential for miscalculations.

Become familiar with common Sig codes which are medical and pharmacy abbreviations used on prescriptions.

This will help to avoid mistakes on dosages, routes and timing.

Some common Sig codes to become familiar with include:

  • a.c. – Before Meals
  • a.d. – Right Ear
  • a.s. – Left Ear
  • b.i.d. – Twice a day
  • c – With
  • disp – Dispense
  • g., G., gm. – Gram
  • gtt – Drop
  • h.s. – At Bedtime
  • IM – Intramuscular
  • mcg – Microgram
  • mEq – Milliequivalent
  • mg. – Milligram
  • ml. – Milliliter
  • NR – No Refill
  • p.o. – By mouth
  • p.r. – Rectally
  • p.c. -After Meals
  • p.r.n. – As Needed
  • q.d. – Every Day
  • sig -Label, Write
  • STAT – Immediately
  • Tab. -Tablet
  • syr. – Syrup
  • oint. – Ointment

Be Ready to Screen Controlled Substances Prescriptions

You will also be dealing with prescriptions for controlled substances and so will need to recognize prescriptions that are for Schedule II controlled substances. It is very helpful to memorize a list of schedule II Controlled Substances.

Some common Schedule II Controlled Substances include:

  • Dilaudid
  • Methadone
  • Demerol
  • Oxycontin
  • Percocet
  • Fentanyl

Make Sure to Check for the Following When Processing Schedule II Prescriptions:

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  • Proper Issue Date
  • Name and Address of Patient
  • Name, Address and DEA number of Prescriber
  • License Number of Prescriber
  • Drug Name
  • Drug Strength
  • Drug Dosage form (tablet, suspension etc.)
  • Quantity Prescribed
  • Directions for Use
  • Refills – if authorized
  • Manual signature of prescriber

You should also be aware that prescribers are allowed by law to call in emergency schedule II prescriptions as long as they follow-up with a written prescription within 7 days.

Review Prior Authorizations, “Refill Too Soon Rejects” and Out of Date Prescriptions

When working in the intake area you will be expected to understand how prior authorizations work and how to deal with “refill too soon rejects.” Your supervisors will also expect you to know how long prescriptions are valid in your state in order to determine if you can accept a prescription or if it is out of date.

4. Be Prepared to Work in the Prescription Preparation Area

In the prescription preparing area you will be preparing dosages and compounds and organizing and maintaining pharmacy inventory.

When filling a prescription, be careful to ensure that you have chosen the correct medication and the right dosage.

Carefully measure or count out pills or powders so that the exact amount that was prescribed is dispensed.

Select the proper sized container for the medication and affix a computer- generated label to the tube or bottle.

Check and double check that the prescription is ready and then present it to the supervising Pharmacist for final approval.

Be sure to be conscientious when returning stock bottles to their appropriate shelves so your co-workers can easily find them.

5. Be Prepared to Work in the Prescription Dispensing Area

In the prescription dispensing area, you will be dispensing prescriptions and OTC medications to patients.

Be sure to refer all questions about medications to the supervising Pharmacist.


In your first Pharmacy Technician job, you will have the opportunity to put all of your training to use. No matter which part of the Pharmacy you work in, accuracy and care and a professional attitude are paramount. Your manager, supervising Pharmacist and co-workers will expect you to speak quietly and calmly at all times and to always maintain a professional and courteous demeanor. In order to get along with customers and co-workers, always treat others as you would want to be treated. Try to be humble in all situations and be pleasant, cooperative and careful. Be sure to dress appropriately at all times and wear company scrubs if they are provided to you. Since you will be standing on your feet for most of the day you should invest in a good comfortable pair of shoes. Most important of all, take pride in your selection of a career as a Pharmacy Technician helping to enhance the health of those in your community.

Learn What a typical day is like in the Life of a Pharmacy Technician.

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Get information on Pharmacy Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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