Want to be in a fulfilling career with plenty of opportunities without having to spend tons of time and money beforehand? Then you might like to think about working as a pharmacy technician.
The demand for pharmacy technicians is greater than the average for all occupations in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of pharmacy technician jobs is projected to increase by 20% between 2012 and 2022. That “faster than average” increase equates to 70,700 more positions within a decade, states the BLS.
The requirements for practicing as a pharmacy technician vary by employer and state. In most cases you have to be licensed, registered or regulated through your state’s board of pharmacy. Thus, it is important to find out what your board of pharmacy’s training requirements are.
Whether or not completing an accredited pharmacy technician training program is currently required, it is advantageous to complete such a program, as it can help you become more employable and learn the skills you need in a classroom and hands-on settings. It can also help prepare you to write the national certification exam. (Certification is also advantageous, if not required by your state/employer).
The great news is completing pharmacy technician training is a relatively low time investment. Programs range from two years to less than a year!
What Level of Education Do I Need?
Variety of Workplaces
While the majority of pharmacy technicians work in drug and grocery store pharmacies and the like, it may surprise you that they also work in a variety of other workplaces (depending on the position, some advanced education may be required). These can range from hospitals and specialty pharmacies to mail-order pharmacies, long term care facilities and for the Department of Defense.
The median salary for pharmacy technicians, according to the BLS, is $29,320. But there is significant room for growth within the field, which goes hand in hand with pay raises.
According to the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Jobs Rankings,” pharmacy technicians score Above Average for Upward Mobility.
There is ample opportunity for pharmacy technicians to advance their careers. Some decide to work as pharmacy technicians to see if they would like to invest in the time and tuition to become a pharmacist. Others, with experience and/or further coursework, move up to more managerial or specialized pharmacy technician roles, such as pharmacy technician manager, pharmacy tech instructor, a pharmacy technician specialized in chemotherapy or compounding or…, and other advanced positions.
“Most important to me are the little things that occur on a daily basis… For example, being able to follow through on investigating a missing medication request, or making sure nurses have what they need to complete their tasks.” ~ Jennifer Comford, CPhT (as quoted from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board’s online CPhT profiles).
More Challenging than it seems
On the surface, the job of a pharmacy technician may seem easier than it actually is. But pharmacy techs do much more than answer a telephone and ring in orders at the cash register. It is a fast-paced position that relies on accuracy, organization and continuous learning; it taps into science and math, as well as interpersonal and communication skills, all the while playing a major role to help the pharmacist and customers alike.