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Medication Technician vs. Pharmacy Technician: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in the medical field can be both rewarding and challenging. If you’re interested in working with medication, you may be wondering if you should become a medication technician or a pharmacy technician. Both of these positions require knowledge of medication and pharmacy procedures, but there are some key differences between the two. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between medication technicians and pharmacy technicians, and we provide information on what you can expect from each role.

What is a Medication Technician?

Medication Technicians are responsible for dispensing and administering medications to patients in a healthcare setting. They work under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist or registered nurse. Medication Technicians typically dispense medications according to a physician’s order and double check that the order is correct before administering the medication to the patient. They also keep track of the patient’s medical records to ensure that they are up-to-date. In some cases, Medication Technicians may be responsible for training other healthcare staff on how to properly dispense and administer medications.

What is a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy Technicians work closely with licensed pharmacists to fill prescription orders and provide customer service in pharmacies. They receive written prescription orders from doctors and nurses and input the information into the pharmacy computer system. They retrieve the correct medications from the shelves and package them for delivery. Pharmacy Technicians also answer customer questions about their medications, take payment and process insurance claims. Some Pharmacy Technicians may be responsible for more complex tasks such as compounding medications or preparing IV bags.

Medication Technician vs. Pharmacy Technician

Here are the main differences between a medication technician and a pharmacy technician.

Job Duties

Although both of these roles involve working with medication and helping patients, there are some differences in the duties they perform. A medication technician may be authorized to administer certain medications as part of their job. This means that they may give shots, pills or other forms of treatment to help patients recover faster.

A pharmacy technician does not have authorization to administer medications. Instead, they work in pharmacies to help patients manage their medication routines. They may do things like fill prescriptions, organize medication supplies and answer patient questions about medications.

Job Requirements

Medication technicians typically need to complete a brief certification program that covers topics like medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and the proper way to handle and dispense medication. Some states also require medication technicians to be licensed as certified nurse assistants (CNAs).

Pharmacy technicians usually need to complete a formal training program that is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). These programs typically last one year and cover topics like pharmacy law, ethics, medical terminology and pharmacology. After completing their training, pharmacy technicians must pass a national certification exam before they can start working.

Work Environment

Both pharmacy technicians and medication technicians work in clean, well-lit environments. They may wear gloves to protect themselves from harmful substances or chemicals. Medication technicians often work in hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices and other medical facilities. Some also work for pharmaceutical companies.

Medication technicians can work alone or with a team of healthcare professionals. They typically work during regular business hours but may have irregular shifts that include evenings, weekends and holidays. The job can be stressful because they’re working with patients who are ill or experiencing pain.


Both medication technicians and pharmacy technicians need to have excellent attention to detail. This is important because they are both responsible for handling medications, which can be very dangerous if not done correctly. They also both need to have good customer service skills as they will be interacting with patients on a regular basis.

Medication technicians benefit from having strong organizational skills. This is because they are responsible for keeping track of the medications that patients take and making sure that they are taking them correctly. Pharmacy technicians also need to be organized, but they also need to have good mathematical skills. This is because they are responsible for measuring and mixing medications, as well as calculating dosages.


The average salary for a medication technician is $39,670 per year. The average salary for a pharmacy technician is $41,705 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the type of work you’re doing, your location and your experience level.


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