Choosing a career path is one of the most difficult yet biggest decisions in life. This one decision will have an impact on the entire life. So, it’s always a good idea to consider as many options as possible before finally settling for one. Anyway, as you visited this page, you might be quite interested to know about pharmacy technicians – in fact, every detail related to pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician, right? So, let’s get started.
Career as a Pharmacy Technician
Health care industry is one of the industries across the U.S. that will continue to stay unaffected in the economic downturn. Apparently, it is growing every day and along with it is growing careers in healthcare. The healthcare careers include pharmacy jobs, nursing, medical assisting, counseling, physician assisting and jobs in other areas of the health care industry.
Pharmacy tech career is highly in demand because of the increasing active role of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in patient care. Also other reasons such as job stability and good pay constitute to the rising demand. Besides that, pharmacy technicians can pursue their career not just in one sector of healthcare, but in many. Hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and home nursing services are just to name a few.
Hence, out of many occupations in demand, pharmacy technician jobs continue to hold a strong career opportunity for the youngsters across the country.
What Is a Pharmacy Technician?
A pharmacy technician is a professional who works under the supervision of licensed pharmacist. Their job is mainly in the healthcare industry. Therefore, a pharmacy worker is also referred as a health care worker or a health professional.
Basically, they are appointed by the pharmacists in hospitals, laboratories, high street pharmacies, and clinics. The job can also be in a government enterprise or in a private enterprise. These technicians have to perform regular duties at the pharmacies such as operating cash registers, answer supplier and customer phone calls, prepare medication for in-bound and out-bound patients, etc.
Pharmacy workers perform many functions based on their job requirements and contract signed. Whatever duties they perform, one thing for sure is, pharmacy techs are an important part of healthcare industry, and their role cannot be denied. One thing to know here is – a pharmacy technician is not a pharmacist.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
As mentioned above, technicians perform many functions depending on their job requirement and the place of employment. There are different types of pharmacies – community/retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, nuclear pharmacy, home infusion pharmacy, and many more; based on the type of pharmacy on works, their job duties, responsibilities are varied.
The state laws and rules also impact the pharmacy technician job description. Anyway, let’s discuss some of the duties performed by pharmacy techs in diverse types of pharmacy settings:
Retail Pharmacy – Answering the phone calls from patients as well as the suppliers, checking the ordering and re-ordering level of the medicines, gather patient information for insurance and personal record purpose, processing patients’ prescriptions, and providing patients with the information they need.
Hospital Pharmacy – Technician tasks in hospital pharmacies are not limited to only the tasks performed regularly in the retail pharmacy. In hospital, it requires billing techs, buyer techs, narcotic techs, etc. They together perform some or all these duties – preparing medication for patients, delivering the medicines to patients, maintaining their records, and taking care of the database of the pharmacy.
There are many more job duties to be discussed, but since you already got a basic idea of “what do pharmacy technicians do”, we’ll move on to the job outlook.
Pharmacy workers are set to increase by many folds in the coming years. As per Bureau of Labor Statistics, the pharmacy technician employment is anticipated to rise by 25% from 2008-2018, compared to other occupations. The demand will spur because of the development of new drugs in the market, and also because more elderly and middle-aged people seek for medication. Apparently, the job prospects in pharmaceutical industry seem better than ever before.
Since the projection is coming true, and job openings are in plenty, the demand to draft a Pharmacy technician resume and to find healthcare jobs is on a rise. In short, the job prospects future in the industry are good especially for those with experience and formal training with certification.
Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work?
The place of work for pharmacy technician determines their job duties. The place where pharmacy technicians work, their duties and responsibilities are already mentioned earlier. However, since you may want to know more about possibly options you can take into consideration, here’s a small list of pharmacies where the technicians work and many job openings are available.
- Retail pharmacies
- Mail-order pharmacies
- Hospital pharmacies
- Long-term care facilities
- Nursing homes
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Insurance companies
- Assisted-living facilities.
These different types of pharmacies are located throughout the US, in every state. So, based on the type of pharmacy and the state laws, the duties and salaries of pharmacy professionals are determined.
Salary and Hourly Wages
Pharmacy technician salary is a result of many factors combined together. The state laws, the place of work, the experience, the certification, and the company rules, and finally the duties of the pharmacy workers – these all combined together bring out a comprehensive salary and hour wage chart.
So, how much do pharmacy technicians make? You’ll have to check out the salaries by state. Well, here’s starting salary and wages of the pharmacy techs.
- For an entry level technician i.e. with 0-3 years of experience, the pay could be anywhere between $8.28 and $14.02 per hour. The annual pay could be anywhere between $17,000 and $30,000
- For an Intermediate level technician i.e. with 3-9 years of experience, the pay could be anywhere between $9.83 and $16.99 per hour. The annual pay could be anywhere between $20,000 and $35,000
- For senior/supervisor level technician i.e. with 10+ years of experience, the pay could be anywhere between $12.00 and $21.00 per hour. The annual pay could be anywhere between $24,000 and $43,000
The aforementioned salaries may differ with regard to the factors discussed earlier.
Curriculum for Pharmacy Technician Training
Healthcare workers have to have certain training before joining a pharmacy or any of the places where Pharmacy tech jobs are offered. In fact, to apply for a job, individuals have to clear examination conducted by the pharmacy technician boards in the US. There are two main bodies in the entire US followed by small boards in different states.
Even if candidates are just a high-school grad, they have to complete pharmacy technician education and get a diploma or a certificate for associate’s degree. This may include internship and other required criteria to be met.
There are many schools that conduct pharmacy technician programs and also technician training online. So, as per the interest of the individual, he/she can either go for regular school or for online tech training. But, whichever option one chooses, the curriculum remains the same.
Here’s what pharmacy technician course consists of:
The general policies related to the examination, getting certification from PTCB (The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board), benefits of PTCB certification, methods to apply for the exam, the fees, and of course the content of the examination are included in the curriculum. It also covers subjects like anatomy and physiology. There is a guidebook provided to all the candidates.
Qualifications and Certification
To become a certified pharmacy technician, some qualification requirements have to be met and a certificate has to be obtained. The two boards that give pharmacy technician certificates are Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT). These two boards are responsible for certifying individuals throughout America.
The basic qualification for applying to become a pharmacy technician is high school diploma. An individual with high school education can become a registered pharmacy technician if he fulfills the pharmacy technician requirements.
Getting a certification is a matter of an individual’s choice, although it is highly recommended by the pharmacists.
Here’s something pharmacy workers need to know – they have to take exam every year or two to maintain their certification. And based on the previous experience they have gained, the salaries and work duties may be amended.
Career advancement chances for the pharmacy techs are high. They can move up a step after few years of experience in the industry. The roles and duties may be changed and the salary may be hiked by few thousand dollars; that’s just an example of the difference between pharmacist and pharmacy technician in terms of income. Pharmacy technicians work under pharmacists and perform the jobs which we discussed in ‘What do Pharmacy Technicians do’ paragraph earlier.
A certified pharmacy technician may be at first hired as a ‘pharmacy aide’ and then move to a senior position to become chemotherapy technician or a nuclear pharmacy technician. However, the advancement may be solely based on the experience, continuing education, formal training and work performed by the technicians.
What Makes a Good Pharmacy Technician?
To become a good pharmacy technician, one has to ensure that he completes all the required training, education and state or local exams. Besides that, there are many on-the-job responsibilities that are needed to take into account as well.
- Starting as a pharmacy aide and working in community pharmacies, prospective pharmacy workers manage inventory, pick up telephone calls, counting tablets, and doing clerical works. This gives them personal experience. And learning those basics helps them improve their skills.
- Learning of background information about chemistry, English, biology, chemistry, and other healthcare related details.
- Learning the skills to handle the customers – in short to provide good customer service, interact with patients, suppliers, and communication with co-workers at the pharmacy. Unless communication skills are learned, a technician cannot become good pharmacy technician.
- Being dedicated, enthusiastic, and organized at the work place can really play a role here. Apart from that, having basic yet strong mathematics, reading, and spelling skills are crucial,too.
- A pharmacy technician should be well-versed with the medical terminologies, or at least with terminologies used at the pharmacies.
All these factors have to be considered in order for a pharmacy technician to affix the word ‘good’ before pharmacy technician.
Do I Have What It Takes to Be a Pharmacy Technician?
Well, as you’ve already read this entire article, you’re in a position to decide. However, if you meet all the requirements, and are willing to become a pharmacy technician, then, you’re surely a right candidate for the job.
This is an opportunity that every able and willing individual can utilize. And, I think, you’re both able and willing to take the job and responsibilities that come with the job.
If you’re not certified yet, you can get certified after taking a few months of training program offered at any pharmacy technician school near you. If you are concerned about salary, then we discussed salary and hourly wages as well, you can refer to that. If you have any other doubts related to the curriculum, there’s brief description above, and a school guidebook is always available online for free.
As all the questions and queries related to becoming pharmacy technicians are answered, it’s up to you to think if you qualify to be a pharmacy technician. After all, your inner voice is stronger than any other voice you hear around.
Information about pharmacy technicians are discussed in brief: what is a pharmacy technician, what do they do, what their salaries are, the certification boards, the career advancement, and tips to become a good pharmacy technician. These vital sections are furnished with a purpose to help the existing pharmacy techs grow, and the aspiring individuals to seek a long-term career in healthcare.
Hopefully, you can now simply decide whether or not to pursuit a career as a pharmacy technician. If you decide in favor, opportunities in healthcare across the U.S. await you.