Getting into the world of healthcare? If your motivation is to help people with their well-being and physical condition, then this career path is a great opportunity. Being a pharmacy technician is a profession where you can excel in your medical knowledge.
There are other options you can choose from, like being a doctor, a nurse, a therapist, and others. But if you would rather work as part of customer support instead of taking constant care of people, then you should become a pharmacy tech.
This job is not relegated to just customer service; you will have various tasks that need to be done inside labs, like preparing and organizing prescriptions. Preparing for this job requires training, so starting to understand what this job brings to the table is essential.
What am I going to do as a Pharmacy Technician?
As a pharmacy technician, your primary purpose is to support pharmacists with medicine prescriptions that people require. On top of that, you have to focus on working with medication compounds and communicating with customers.
You will normally work in pharmacies, but a hospital can be your workplace too. Some tasks may differentiate between both places, but essentially, a pharmacist will review your work before the medicine is handed in.
So, a pharmacy technician has a lot to do in their job, and it can go from as little as packaging prescriptions and answering questions from customers to organizing inventory, preparing intravenous medications, and most importantly, providing medicine to customers and patients.
Job Outlook and Payment
There are numerous vacancies for pharmacy technicians in the U.S. and this number is projected to increase over the years. Pharmacies are becoming one of the most recurring places people go to, so it is expected for these to require more personnel.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “About 43,500 openings for pharmacy technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.”
You can expect great pay from being a pharmacy technician. The median annual wage is approximately $36,740 according to the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2021.
Steps to Start Working as a Pharmacy Technician
First of all, if you want to become a pharmacy technician, you need a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training. You can also do a postsecondary education program in pharmacy technology.
You can start one with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). They offer a wide selection of informative programs like:
- Pharmacy law
- Healthcare systems
- Methods to dispense medication
These programs can take between one and two years depending on the subject, but sometimes they also offer an associate’s degree.
Depending on the pharmacy you are going to work in, your employer will need that you are certified as a pharmacy technician. There are two organizations that offer certification, and in both of them you will have to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE):
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). To apply, you will need to create an account and have a high school diploma.
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA). To apply, you will need a high school diploma, be 18 years old minimum, and the completion of a training program or at least one year of work.
The latter is a better certification since they are recognized by employers all around the world, and make sure that you recertify every 2 years.
Even if you are not required to get the certification, you should apply for it. Doing so can be beneficial to become a pharmacy technician quickly and maybe receiving a better salary.
Begin your Healthcare Career as a Pharmacy Technician
Helping people through customer service provides security to people who need medicine. If you are not sure that you are up for the job, you will get certified on-the-job training starting with the smallest task.
Having great listening and organizational skills can be of assistance to the pharmacist. It shows that you are prepared to prescribe and dispense medication for clients. If you do not like to work in a pharmacy, you can go to a hospital, but either way, you will be saving lives as a pharmacy technician.
Occupational Outlook Handbook, Pharmacy Technicians. (2023, February 28th). In the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm#tab-1