Whether you are on the job hunt after graduation or considering a midlife career change, allied health professions are an excellent choice. They offer opportunities for everyone regardless of their age, education, and personal circumstances.
Pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician is among the very best options. Since the pharmaceutical industry is on the rise, the field offers a stable line of work as well as great flexibility.
The first step towards this promising career is signing up for a pharmacy technician training program. Discover everything that awaits you when specializing in this growing field.
What Does a Pharmacy Tech Do?
If you’ve ever called a pharmacy, you’ve probably already spoken to pharmacy tech. They are the right-hand of pharmacists, ensuring that drugstores are well-stocked and customers receive the care that they need.
These professionals receive and confirm prescriptions, administer and label medications, and work with patients and pharmacists to verify insurance paperwork. If a patient’s insurance coverage runs into complications, techs are usually responsible for speaking with insurance companies to clarify or solve issues.
When it comes to organizational skills, pharmacy technicians are the backbone of the business. Whether it’s stocking items, pricing inventory, or filling prescriptions, you can be sure that the tech has done it all. They may even help out around the store whenever extra assistance is needed.
Where Can Pharmacy Techs Work?
The majority of professionals in this allied healthcare sector find entry-level work in major drugstores and retail pharmacies (like Duane Reade, Walgreens, and CVS). It’s important to remember that – while salaries may be on the lower end at these locations – these are excellent places to hone skills.
With the right attitude and dedication, you’ll become a key member of your team and increase your chances of obtaining a promotion. Pharmacies are one of the best places for gender equality in the workplace, and if that’s not enough to sway your opinion, here are 22 other reasons it’s a great career.
When you build up your resumé and knowledge of the industry, you’ll have a far greater choice of related professions to pursue in the future. Some examples are:
- Mail-order pharmacies - Techs in these types of pharmacies fill prescriptions with automated dispensing machines. They may be asked to work as an insurance representative or data input specialist, depending on their set of skills. This type of profession wouldn’t require physical interaction with customers.
- Compounding pharmacies - Pharmacy techs who work here are expected to fill custom prescriptions, as well as package unit doses. Specialized certification may be required to work with certain substances.
- Hospital and nursing home pharmacies - If you work in a medical facility, you’ll be expected to prepare single-dose medications, injectable solutions, and IV bags for long-term and emergency patients. You may also be trained in aseptic and clean room techniques, as well as hospital computer system skills. Jobs are typically offered to workers with at least 3-5 years of experience (often at a retail pharmacy).
Pharmacy Techs Have Flexible Working Hours
Depending on your working environment, schedule and working hours can vary greatly. Pharmacy technician jobs in a 24-hour pharmacy require night shifts, weekends, holidays, or even on-call shifts. At medical facilities like nursing homes or hospitals, schedules can vary dramatically, too.
If you find employment at a compounding or mail-order pharmacy, you may be able to count on having nights, holidays, and weekends free.
Why Be a Pharmacy Tech?
Are you still wondering why to become a pharmacy technician? Explore even more exciting reasons.
Within less than 1 year of study, you will have everything you need to jump start your career. What’s more, the demand for pharmacy techs is ever growing due to the increased need for prescription medications and pharmaceutical services. Last but not least, the field is financially rewarding and there are many ways to grow.
Read on to explore the salaries and job outlooks across the US.
Pharmacy Tech Salaries
As of May 2019, the average full-time pharmacy technician hourly salary was just over $16 (or $33,950 annually). Entry-level techs typically command less than that, with the lowest 10% earning about $24,120 per year.
The top 10% in the business, however, receive over $49,000. These professionals have likely worked their way up the ladder and are often working at private or public hospitals.
In addition to fair wages, most retail pharmacies provide their techs with great benefits like vacations, insurance coverage, and even investment fund services.
Pharmacy Tech Salaries per State
Like most allied healthcare positions, the salaries of pharmacy techs on the West Coast are higher than anywhere else. The area offers some of the best opportunities for this profession in the US. You can expect to earn between $42,000 and $45,000 (around $20-$21 per hour) for a full-time position in California, Oregon, or Washington (DC). Alaska is also among the highest-paying states. The annual mean pharmacy tech’s wage there is $44,280.
The American South pays less-than-average salaries across the board, but also comes with a lower cost of living. That said, Kentucky and Arkansas techs can get a median income of just over $30,000. Still, these states are with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients, which is very reassuring.
Are Pharmacy Tech Jobs in Demand?
BLS projects 4% growth in the job market for pharmacy techs during the next decade. Most allied healthcare careers anticipate significant growth due to the aging population and the changing responsibilities of pharmacists.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that more than 25% of Americans are living with multiple chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer. This risk increases if they’re 65 or older. When a person has multiple chronic conditions, their rate of hospitalization and need for treatment rises dramatically, and thus grows their need for daily care.
21% of Americans will be senior citizens by 2030, and pharmacy techs will be relied upon for their understanding and knowledge of life-saving medications.
In recent years, pharmacists have become responsible for more patient care than ever, including giving seasonal flu shots. To keep up with the pace, pharmacy technicians are stepping up to prepare more medications, working to collect patient information, and
double-checking other technicians’ work.
How to Become a Pharmacy Tech
For those looking to become a pharmacy technician, there are a few possible routes to take.
Though a two-year associate degree might be a great choice for some, finding an accredited vocational school or college is also a smart option. It offers pharmacy technician training you can finish in less than one year. Not only is this a great way to enter the workforce quickly, but you’ll do it without incurring a huge debt.
Requirements for a Pharmacy Tech
The standard entry-level requirements for most pharmacy technician training programs include a high school diploma and Passing score on the Wonderlic Scholastic Level Exam.
To apply, you’ll also need to be 18 years or older and pass a criminal background check, since you’ll be handling controlled substances.
9-Month Pharmacy Technician Training
Pharmacy tech training typically starts with classroom instruction where you’ll study medical terminologies, as well as proper drug administration, regulations, and classifications (especially which drugs one should never take together). You’ll also learn how to properly package prescriptions, keep an organized pharmacy, and assist customers in a variety of ways.
Once you finish the classroom instruction, you’ll need to complete about 250 hours of clinical internship alongside a pharmacy tech mentor in either a retail or hospital pharmacy. Here, you’ll put what you’ve learned into practice, gaining the real-world skills you’ll need to become a confident and reliable allied healthcare professional.
A valid reason for going through a training program is to discover your will and desire for such a position. A great number of technicians fall in love with the industry and continue working while studying at a pharmacist school.
Should I Get My Pharmacy Tech Certification?
Once you finish your training and internship, you’ll be eligible to take your Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam via the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). This CPhT credential goes a long way towards setting you apart from someone who is just a pharmacy tech in training.
It’s true that some pharmacies hire techs with zero experience in the industry and train them on the job. Many states, however, require training via a technical school or college, as well as certification. Even if your state doesn’t require pharmacy tech certification, that doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future.
The right training also shows prospective employers that you dedicate yourself to learning and exceeding in your profession.
Is a Career as a Pharmacy Tech Right for You?
If you always wanted to enter the pharmaceutical industry but didn’t have the time or financial background to pursue this dream, there’s never been a better moment to enter this field.
By signing up for a pharmacy technician training course, you’ll be taking the first step towards becoming a member of an exciting and growing industry. What is more, those of you considering a career switch will have the ideal study-work balance that works regardless of your current schedule and circumstances.