All components of the prescription fulfillment process are handled by pharmacy technicians, who also support the pharmacist with day-to-day operations. A pharmacy technician school can offer a one-year diploma or certification program or a two-year associate degree program to aspiring pharmacy technicians. This career guide covers everything you need to know about pharmacy technician training, occupations, and job openings in this rapidly expanding sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians earn a median annual salary of $35,100 once they’ve started working (BLS). From beginning training to the job prospects for the next decade, this career guide covers all you need to know about becoming a pharmacy technician.
What Is the Role of a Pharmacy Technician?
A pharmacy technician collaborates closely with a pharmacist to ensure their patients’ health and safety. They identify, distribute, pack, and label a patient’s prescription medication, which is subsequently verified by a pharmacist for correctness before being dispensed to the patient. They could also assist pharmacists with administrative responsibilities, including processing insurance claims, inventory management, and paperwork filing.
In-Depth Look at Pharmacy Technician Jobs
Most technicians are certified (the Certified Pharmacy Technician) is earned by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam and have completed hundreds of hours of on-the-job training in order to work with a variety of prescription drugs, understand pharmacy operations and protocol, and adhere to ethical standards. Dosing medications and filling prescription orders are among the essential work responsibilities, as are administrative activities and basic customer service duties at the counter. As a lead pharmacy technician, some pharmacy technicians supervise a group of pharmacy employees. Others may be in charge of inventory and supply management, as well as sharing essential information with other healthcare experts.
Retail pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities are all common places for pharmacy technicians to work. They work on their feet for most of the day, filling and packaging prescriptions and collaborating with pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. They may be required to work nights, weekends, and holidays, depending on where they work.
Getting a Job as a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians serve as a liaison between patients and pharmacists and are essential members of the healthcare team. If you enjoy assisting others and engaging with patients but don’t want to work in a clinical setting, becoming a pharmacy technician could be a good fit for you. It’s one of the few healthcare professions that deal with people rather than processes or direct patient care. Students interested in this field should pursue science classes such as chemistry, biology, and medical terminology in high school.
Prerequisites for Higher Education
All pharmacy technicians must have a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as on-the-job training, although many opt for a higher education program, such as a certificate or associate’s degree. Completing specialized training and subsequently earning your certification has numerous advantages. A certificate program can be finished in as little as nine months and can be completed entirely online. Students who complete this type of curriculum will be better prepared for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam. There are also certificate programs that incorporate a component of hands-on learning in which students train in a pharmacy. An associate’s degree program typically lasts two years and includes internship or internship opportunities. Following their internship, students frequently take the PTCE.
The Procedure of Certification
Individuals who have certain qualifications are recognized as competent by non-governmental organizations through certification. Certification offers pharmacy technicians professional credentialing and is required of some pharmacy technicians depending on where they work. The requirements for pharmacy technicians vary depending on the state in which they work. Some states do not need certification and instead rely on exams, continued education, and background checks to control their workforce. In some states, taking the PTCE is a requirement for pharmacy technicians. After passing the PTCE exam, a pharmacy technician can work as a certified pharmacy technician (CPHT).
Prospects for a Future Career
The median annual pay of $35,000 is expected for pharmacy technicians. There are numerous employment options for pharmacy technicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to expand at a steady rate. Some pharmacy technicians progress to become retail pharmacy managers, pharmaceutical reps, or even pharmacists with extra training, education, and experience.
Pharmacy Technician vs. Pharmacist: What’s the Difference?
It’s also crucial to know the distinctions between a pharmacist and a pharmacy technician.
To comprehend the distinctions, you must first understand a pharmacist’s position and responsibilities. A pharmacist is a doctor who has had extensive training on the uses, applications, risks, and interactions of medications. Pharmacists can fill prescriptions, provide advice, avert difficulties, and, in certain situations, even deliver treatments like flu injections and immunizations, thanks to years of schooling culminating in a doctoral degree. A pharmacy technician, as previously said, is essentially a pharmacist’s assistant, assisting them in staying organized and doing many of the pharmacy’s necessary but time-consuming activities. Pharmacy technicians collaborate with pharmacists to provide patients with medication and other healthcare goods. Counting pills, verifying prescription information, mixing medication as needed, and labeling bottles are routine tasks. Before a prescription is given to a patient, it is reviewed by a pharmacist.
A pharmacy tech’s other responsibilities include answering phones, preparing patient insurance claims, stocking shelves, taking inventory, and running cash registers. If the technician works in a hospital or nursing home, he or she must also examine patients’ paperwork and prepare the medication that has been requested (with a pharmacist checking the prescription for accuracy). The majority of pharmacy technicians (about 71%) work in retail pharmacies, such as drug shops or supermarkets. Hospitals employ about 18% of the workforce. The others work in pharmacies, wholesalers, government agencies, or online pharmacies. A pharmacy technician profession takes substantially less training, but it also pays significantly less. Working as a pharmacy aide is a terrific way to get started, and you can progress to becoming a pharmacy tech through formal training or on-the-job training. Volunteering in a hospital may also provide you with sufficient experience to secure a job. Employers also value inventory management experience, computer abilities, chemistry understanding, English skills, and health education experience. Working as a pharmacy technician can be a terrific way to get started on your path to becoming a pharmacist, but it takes a lot of training and study. Supervisory and management positions, as well as specialist positions such as chemotherapy technician or nuclear pharmacy technician, are available to pharmacy technicians who want to grow.
Is Becoming a Pharmacy Technician a Good Career Choice?
Working as a pharmacy technician has advantages and disadvantages, just like any other profession. Working as a pharmacy technician can be stressful, and it typically entails repeated activities, making it difficult to focus on the crucial tasks. Many of the same duties, such as entering patient information or labeling medicines, are asked of people in this industry multiple times a day. Because the position entails a lot of consumer involvement, you might be the first point of contact for an irritated patient who can’t get their prescription filled or simply needs to vent their grievances. However, there are some clear advantages.
Most importantly, you may work as a pharmacy technician with little to no experience and earn a good living. As previously said, there are programs that allow you to become a certified pharmacy technician in as short as nine months of study. This can be a huge help to someone who wishes to get into a steady, trustworthy job quickly. Working as a pharmacy technician can be thrilling and intriguing, despite the fact that it can be boring at times. You’ll learn about the most recent advances in medicine, and you’ll feel good about helping people feel better and live healthier lives.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Earn?
While a pharmacy technician’s income is not the highest on the list, it is rather impressive when you consider the little time it takes to complete your degree. The median salary for pharmacy technicians in May 2019 was $33,950, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This permits you to earn a good living with only a few years of college education, and if you have a bachelor’s degree, your earnings will almost certainly increase. You can expect a salary of over $49,130 if you are able to advance to the top 10% of this field. In addition, pharmacy technicians who work in hospitals earn more than their shop counterparts. The median pay for pharmacy technicians working in the state, local, and private hospitals is $38,310.
Job Opportunities for Pharmacy Technicians Are Growing
The job prospects for this profession are also promising. While the numbers for this profession are not predicted to surge, they are expected to climb by roughly 7% between 2018 and 2028, exceeding the 2% expected for other professions. This increase, however, is slightly lower than the ten percent increase projected for all health technicians.
Why Would the Demand for Pharmacy Technicians Increase?
The most significant factor is an aging population that will require more pharmaceutical medications than younger people. Higher disease rates among older people, including heart disease and diabetes, will raise the need for pharmaceuticals, which in turn will indicate a greater demand for competent pharmacy technicians. Because pharmacists will likely take on more patient care activities, restricting their time for other chores, high quality pharmacy technicians will likely be needed to assist with more jobs in the workplace. Pharmacy technicians will be needed to collect patient information, prepare prescriptions, and even verify the work of other technicians as pharmacists spend more time delivering flu shots and providing other services. Many of these chores were formerly performed by the pharmacist, who may not have time in the future.
Work as a Pharmacy Technician in the Best Places
While total income must be weighed against the cost of living (a $33,000 salary in South Dakota is not the same as a $33,000 salary in Massachusetts), there are some places where pharmacy technicians earn more money, as well as areas where more employees are available. With so many variables, determining which state is best for a pharmacy technician can be difficult. The Bureau of Labor Statistics collects statistics on wages and job openings, and their findings suggest that California has the highest-paid pharmacy technicians, with a median income of $45,200. The top five states include Alaska, Washington, the District of Columbia, and Oregon. However, it’s equally crucial to look for places where jobs are available. In this situation, Kentucky appears to appreciate pharmacy technicians more than any other state, with an average of 4.66 pharmacy technician positions per 1,000 workers. The top five states are West Virginia, Arkansas, Rhode Island, and Maine.
To be successful as a pharmacy technician, you must be a hard worker who is meticulous, detailed, and pleasant. You’ll need to be able to interact with a pharmacist who is knowledgeable about all of the meds, but you’ll also need to be able to turn around and answer a patient’s query about over the counter medications or a prescription’s dosage. Then you’ll need to construct an oral compound and keep track of your supplies. It’s a challenging job. You’ll be completely prepared to excel in all of those areas and more if you earn a pharmacy technician degree.