Stable careers are hard to come by these days. Technological innovations have disrupted a staggering number of industries in recent years. This is particularly true of the medical industry, which relies upon the latest technology to stay current and up-to-date with the latest trends.
With so many industries being unstable, it can be hard to know where to put one’s energy. How do you know which career is right for you if you’re not even sure that career will exist in five years?
Today, we’re going to be looking at pharmacy technicians, which is known to be a stable and well-paying career. We’ll talk a bit about what the job entails and then delve into how to become a pharmacy technician.
How To Become A Pharmacy Technician
Before we delve into the step-by-step guide, let’s take a look at what a pharmacy technician is and does.
What Is A Pharmacy Technician?
A pharmacy technician’s main responsibility is to assist the pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians work closely with the pharmacists to fill orders. They may even compound or mix certain medications as well as operating the automated machines that package them.
Pharmacy technicians also assist pharmacists and physicians with common administrative tasks such as contacting primary care physicians to authorize refills or entering customer and patient information. They also organize all of the inventory and alert physicians when stock levels start getting low.
Pharmacy technicians handle a lot of the customer interactions of a pharmacy. Physicians tend to field questions related to a particular medication. Pharmacy techs more often answer questions relating to the administration of medications.
Pharmacy technicians orders over the phone and deal with customers at the counter. They serve as the face of the pharmacy, dispensing vital information to patients as well as physicians. This makes a pharmacy technician a good career choice for people looking for a social career as well as a technical one.
Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work?
As a pharmacy technician, you’re not limited to working at a pharmacy of a drug store.
There are many different places where pharmacy techs can be found. They can work at hospitals or mail-order pharmacies. They can also work at big box retailers such as WalMart or Costco.
Chain and independent drugstores also employ pharmacy technicians.
Hospital Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs working at hospitals tend to a lot of the IV medications. They also do a lot of the laboratory preparations to make sure that patients get the correct treatment. They also perform certain lab work, including sterilizing lab equipment.
Hospital pharmacy techs are often in charge of maintaining the medication machines, as one additional duty.
Retail Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy technicians working in retail environments are the human face of the pharmacy. They deal with patients’ questions about medications or any additional advice they may need.
When a question exceeds the scope of a pharmacy tech’s expertise, they’ll seek out additional knowledge from the pharmacist.
Retail pharmacy techs are also responsible for maintaining the physical inventory, as well.
Mail-Order Pharmacy Tech
Mail-order pharmacy techs work in an environment more akin to an office. They fill mail-order prescriptions all day long, surrounded by other pharmacy techs.
A typical day of a mail-order pharmacy tech might begin with meetings with pharmacists and other technicians. From there, they might go on to preparing compounds and filling prescriptions. They may perform some clerical duties as well, from maintaining the database or the inventory.
Mail-order pharmacy techs deal with the public less than many other pharmacy technicians. This makes it a good choice for someone wanting to explore the industry but with a less social aspect.
Reasons To Become A Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians deal with people during some of the most delicate moments of their lives. It requires a mixture of social skills as well as an analytical mind. This makes it a good career choice for both right- as well as left-brained people.
Becoming a pharmacy technician is also a good opportunity to learn the pharmaceutical industry from the ground up. You’ll be working closely with both pharmacists as well as physicians from day one. This makes becoming a pharmacy technician an excellent choice for people who love to learn.
Being a pharmacy technician is also a stable and well-paying career that’s available with a limited amount of education. Pharmacy tech programs tend to cost far less than a two-year or four-year degree. You can often get your pharmacy tech certification in less than a year.
Well-paying jobs that don’t require a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree are hard to come by these days. Yet there are over 9,000 pharmacy tech jobs listed on GlassDoor currently. They pay between $17 and $33, on average.
The average salary for a pharmacy technician was $31,750 as of 2017.
The pharmacy market is still growing, as well. The average age of Americans is gradually rising. This means the projected career growth of the medical industry, as a whole, is also on the rise.
Pharmacy tech jobs are predicted to increase by 12% by 2026. If you’re looking for a career that’s on the rise, a pharmacy tech would be a good job to consider.
Now that we’ve discussed the merits of the industry, let’s learn how to get started in the career.
Becoming A Pharmacy Technician
If you’re going to become a pharmacy tech, you’re going to need a high school diploma or an equivalent degree. You’ll also need on-the-job training or receive post-secondary education in pharmacy technology. Most states require some sort of certification which you’ll need to complete either a training program or a formal education to procure.
Training And Education
Every employer has different requirements for their pharmacy techs. Some offer on-the-job training. All require a High School diploma or GED.
Some pharmacy techs complete vocational training to receive their certification. Most certification programs can be completed in one year or less. Some can take longer, even leading into a fully-fledged Associate’s Degree.
Pharmacy tech certification programs offer everything you’ll need to succeed in your career. You’ll learn all of the math skills required for everything from mixing medicine to basic accounting. You’ll also learn the latest medical trends, such as how to use cutting-edge laboratory equipment.
Finally, you’ll also learn about the philosophy of the pharmaceutical industry. You’ll take classes on the latest pharmaceutical laws and ethics to help steer and guide you throughout your career.
Most certification programs offer an opportunity for hands-on experience in a clinical setting. This makes them practical as well as academic.
1-Year Accreditation Programs
A 1-year accreditation program takes roughly 12 months to complete. The programs focus exclusively on information pharmacy technicians will need in their careers.
At the program’s conclusion, students often work in an externship. This gives the students a taste of the daily life of a pharmacy tech, as well as valuable hands-on experience.
2-Year Associate’s Degree
2-Year programs give aspiring pharmacy techs an actual degree when it’s all said and done. You’ll hold an Associate’s Degree (AA) that will help you stand out from other applicants.
You will also have a transcript of accredited courses that can be applied to a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree, should you choose to pursue further education. Even if you don’t go back to college, the additional education will help your career flourish. You’ll gain additional social and psychological training, as well as a deeper knowledge of contemporary medical practices.
What To Look For In A Certification Program
With pharmacy technicians being such a burgeoning industry, it should come as no surprise that there’s no shortage of certification programs out there. That can make finding the one that will best suit your needs problematic.
To help you find the right certification program for you, start off by making sure it’s an accredited course. Check to make sure it’s accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
Next, you’ll want to see if the certification program offers an externship. Even if you’re attending an online university, they can often help you secure an externship with a pharmaceutical company in your area. Ask the admissions counselor about this part of the program and how they tend to fill these positions.
Finally, you’ll want to look into the certification process itself. If possible, find other graduates and ask them about the test. You may also take that opportunity to ask them about their careers, and how their certification’s been serving them.
Pharmacy technicians are only going to keep growing in demand as the population continues to age. It’s also a rewarding career that lets you help people while also practice practical problem-solving and logical thinking. You’ll use all the best parts of yourself, and you will be well-paid for doing so.
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