As with many positions in the healthcare industry, a career as a pharmacy technician has the added benefit of being very much in demand.
According to federal government projections, more than 47,000 people will become pharmacy technicians by 2024, a 12 percent increase over the current employment level in the field. That percentage increase is much faster than the seven percent average increase projected for all professions.
So, finding a job as a pharmacy tech is likely not going to be an issue. And becoming one is an attainable goal for those with dedication to learning the job and a desire to work in a healthcare field.
Before deciding to travel the educational and training path needed to become a pharmacy tech, it’s important to know what they do.
Job Duties and Pay
Pharmacy technicians provide assistance to pharmacists in processing drug prescriptions and providing information to patients on how the drugs are used.
They also have a host of other duties, including:
- Collecting the information needed to fill a drug prescription
- Measuring medication needed for a prescription
- Correctly labeling prescriptions
- Managing medication inventories at a pharmacy
It’s a challenging job in a busy environment. Pharmacy techs made a median salary of $30,920 in May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those in the highest 10 percent of the profession earned almost $46,000.
Pay tends to be higher for those working in hospital pharmacies. As with all professions, job availability and pay depends on a number of factors, such as geography and the economic environment. Job seekers should conduct their own research.
Pharmacy Tech Education
There is no one set pathway into a pharmacy tech career. However, they are typically at least required to have a high school diploma.
Those who wish to earn the top spots in the profession will want to enter pharmacy tech programs, often available through community colleges or through online courses. In some cases, employers will require completion of such a program before hiring a candidate.
Some programs award certificates. Increasingly, however, pharmacy tech programs lead to a two-year associate’s degree.
Subjects covered in such programs include:
- Math used in pharmacies
- Maintaining accurate records
- Methods for dispensing medications
- Uses and doses of medication
- Pharmacy laws and rules of ethics
Some educational programs have a clinical component. During this phase of their education, future pharmacy techs will work under the close supervision of a pharmacist and other pharmacy techs, gaining hands-on experience while working in a pharmacy.
If not part of their formal education program, such experiences are typically required at the pharmacy itself before a pharmacy technician is awarded a full-time job.
Most states also require pharmacy techs to be licensed. The requirements for each state can be found through the state’s Board of Pharmacy.
Typically, the requirements include the education listed above as well as passing an exam and clearing a criminal background check.
Becoming a pharmacy tech can provide a stable career in a growing field. For those wishing to work in the healthcare industry, a job such as pharmacy tech can provide them with the job satisfaction they want out of their career.
In many cases, a pharmacy technician might aspire to become a full-fledged pharmacist. A tech position is a good way to learn the profession.