Medication Technician: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for medication technicians. Get the facts about training and certification requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Medication Technician?

Medication technicians are certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who are qualified to administer pharmaceutical drugs to patients. CNAs work in long-term care facilities and hospitals, helping patients and residents with a variety of daily tasks, like eating and bathing, as well as providing basic medical consultations and taking vital signs. On top of these duties, those who work as medication technicians also keep track of what medications their patients need to take and when. They bring them to the patients and make sure they are taken properly. They may also monitor any side effects that require further medical attention.

The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Training Required Some courses require at least six months of trained experience, others require none
Certification Required, through a written exam and a clinical practice exam
Job Duties Prepare medications, administer medications, recognize side effects, accurately record patient reactions
Job Growth (2014-2024) 18% (for nursing assistants)*
Median Salary (2015) $25,710 (for nursing assistants)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do I Become a Certified Medication Technician?

A certified medication technician (CMT) is typically a certified nurse assistant (CNA) who has completed additional specialty training in medication and records. Some medication technician courses require that you currently work as a CNA and have at least six months of experience. A drug test and background test may also be necessary. Other medication technician courses do not mandate that you're already a certified nurse assistant and include relevant CNA training in the CMT course.

In a medication technician course, you'll study medical terminology and drug abbreviations, pharmacology, medication classification, drug dosage and medication storage protocol. You'll learn the documentation involved in ordering and administering medication, examine how drugs affect body systems and develop patient communication skills.

You're trained through classroom instruction and clinical lab work to sanitarily prepare medications and administer them via oral, nasal, pulmonary, subcutaneous and ophthalmic methods, among others. You're also taught to recognize typical side effects, appropriate responses and signs of medication errors so that you can accurately record your patients' reactions to their medications and help ensure they're receiving proper care.

How Do I Become Certified?

As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), certified medication technician is not a recognized career in all states. In states where this is a regulated profession, you typically must pass a written exam and a clinical practical exam to get certified. States may impose some restrictions on the types of medications you can administer or have unique requirements. To maintain your certification, you may need to periodically complete continuing education courses, in subjects such as psychotropic drugs and insulin injections.

What Is the Career and Salary Outlook?

Certified medication technicians commonly work in long-term assisted living facilities under the supervision of practical nurses or registered nurses. Although statistics for CMTs aren't specifically available, employment of nurse assistants in general was expected to increase at a faster-than-average rate of 18% between 2014 and 2024, per the BLS. As of 2015, the majority of nursing assistants earned between approximately $19,390 and $36,890 yearly, with the median annual salary being about $25,710.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of working as a CNA who administers medications, you could also think about becoming a home health aide. Instead of working in a medical or long-term care facility, you would provide daily assistance for people who are living mostly independently in their own homes. This could include administering prescription and/or over-the-counter medications. No formal training is required for this job. Alternatively, you could become a pharmacy technician, where you would perform clerical duties and help prepare prescription medications in a retail pharmacy or clinic. You need a high school diploma for this job, and you may also need to be certified by the state in which you work.

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