Do pharmacy technicians make a lot of money? Is it a tough job? What certifications are needed? Here’s your complete guide to what is a pharmacy technician.
You have an interest in medicine. You know you want a career that helps others, and you know you want a job with good employment availability.
Could a career in pharmacy be for you?
It sure could be. If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering, “What is a pharmacy technician?” you’ll want to know some key factors. If a career in pharmacy interests you, check out the information guide below.
What is a Pharmacy Technician?
A pharmacy technician assists a licensed pharmacist in filling prescription medications. They measure out the prescriptions and provide correct packaging and labeling.
What Makes Pharmacy Tech a Good Career Choice?
There are several reasons to consider becoming a pharmacy technician.
There are ample opportunities and increasing demand in the job market. The aging population and increase in certain diseases ensure there will always be a need for pharmacy technicians. New medications and treatment programs are always developing. With every advancement, there is more need for technicians.
Most occupations have a growth rate of about 7% every ten years. When it comes to pharmacy technicians, the growth rate doubles. Over the next ten years, there will be more than 14% more opportunities as a pharmacy technician.
There is also an abundance of openings across the nation. Therefore, if you are thinking of relocating, chances are you’ll be able to find a job no matter where you move.
If you’re going through a career change later in life, you can get your education in as quickly as four months. It’s also a quick road to a job if you’re an ambitious college student.
Typically, you only need a high school diploma with on-the-job training. But, most places look to hire someone with formal education. You can get that education through a vocational school or community college.
As a pharmacy technician, you can get paid up to $25 an hour. Though, how much you’ll make exactly depends on your expertise, experience, and education. Where you live and any certifications also come into play.
Pharmacy technicians fall directly under a pharmacist. They assist the pharmacist in dispensing medications to both individuals and professionals.
However, they also have a list of other duties they may need to follow:
- Measure the amount of medication
- Mix or compound some medicines
- Call doctors for refill authorization
- Prepare intravenous medication
- Package and label prescriptions
- Collect patient information and payment
- Process insurance claims
- Take inventory and note supply shortages
Depending on where you may work as a pharmacy technician, you may also need to:
- Run registers
- Provide customer service
- Field customer calls
- Locate over-the-counter medicine
Skills And Competencies
As with any good career, you’ll need to refine certain work skills in pharmaceutical work. Pharmacy tech school can help craft many of these skills to better prepare you.
Consider your own personal qualities. Do they fit into this list?
- Active Listening: Technicians need to understand doctors’ orders as well as customers’ requests.
- Speaking: They need to convey information to pharmacists. They also need to communicate effectively with doctors and customers
- Attention to detail: Pharmacy technicians need to pay careful attention to details. Mistakes when filling prescriptions or preparing labels can be deadly.
- Highly organized: Great organization skills help avoid costly and dangerous mistakes.
- Reading comprehension: Technicians need to understand a large amount of written documentation.
Where Can I Work As a Pharmacy Technician?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 52% of pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies or drug stores. This means most technicians are in retail or grocery stores.
However, there are also opportunities in a variety of other places. Hospitals and other health care facilities employ pharmacy technicians. With the proper education, you could also work within pharmaceutical production or sales.
A few other places technicians can work are:
- Primary care organizations
- Education and training
- Veterinary pharmacy
- Pharmacy organizations
- Nursing homes
- Assisted living centers
- Mental health institutions
- Mail-order pharmacies
What Other Jobs Can a Technician Do?
As a pharmacy technician, you can choose to work on a career path that suits you. You can climb the ladder internally, becoming a full-blown technician. Or, you could pursue something a little different.
You could find yourself working at a pharmaceutical company, research lab, the sales force, or more.
How Do I Get a Job as a Pharmacy Technician?
Before you apply to a job opening, clean up your resume and highlight the skills mentioned above. Look for openings online on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board’s career center. You might also find some listings on general job-search boards.
You might find a volunteer opportunity that will give you experience an employer wants. Look for these opportunities with local pharmacies. If you’re earning a certification, ask around within your program or school.
Another way to break into your new career is to shadow an experienced technician. This is another great way to get those skills polished for a new full-time career.
Here are some tips to land an internship:
- Talk with someone you know in the industry for professional insight.
- Ask your technician program or school about any open opportunities
- Research internships early on.
- Update your resume.
- Make a list of places you’d like to work at. Apply to these places. Remember, there are a variety of places you could work. An internship at a hospital will give you a different outlook than one at a retail shop.
Now you know what is a pharmacy technician, it’s time to take your first steps. Take a look at your own resume and find what’s missing. Do some research on local pharmacy programs or online certifications.
Before you know it, you’ll find yourself landing your new, fulfilling career. Check out our blog for more advice on careers and everything else that makes you tick.