If you have a love for helping others, like the appeal of working in the healthcare field, and are ready to dive into a stable, rapidly growing career - you may just want to consider becoming a pharmacy technician. Becoming a pharmacy technician is an appealing route for a lot of people seeking a new career for a lot of different reasons. Wondering what those reasons are? Lucky for you, we’ve got 5 of them here!
What Are Pharmacy Technicians?
Before we talk about why you should become a pharmacy technician, we need to discuss what a pharmacy technician actually is. Pharmacy technicians are described as someone who has taken the necessary training and education in order to assist pharmacists with the preparation of medicines for customers. Put simply, pharmacy technicians work directly under the supervision of licensed pharmacists and perform duties that are pharmacy-related.
Reasons to Become a Pharmacy Technician
Now that we’ve got the technical stuff out of the way, here are 5 reasons you should consider becoming a pharmacy technician.
There’s Always a Variety of Tasks
It’s true pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists, but that doesn’t mean they only have a few tasks! Pharmacy technicians perform a large variety of tasks, leading to workdays that are always different from the next. Job duties will of course depend on the workplace, but there are some core duties we know pharmacy technicians perform. Pharmacy technicians perform tasks like:
- Answering phone calls from patients or doctors
- Collecting information needed to fill patient prescriptions
- Measuring the amounts of medication needed for prescriptions
- Packaging and labeling certain prescriptions
- Operating dispensing equipment for medications
- Entering patient information and keeping patient records
- Speaking face-to-face with customers
- Handling payment for patient prescriptions
In some states, pharmacy technicians can even mix or compound some medications before they’re given to customers. Some pharmacy technicians are known to make rounds in the hospital to give medications to patients, if they work in a hospital environment.
You Can Become Certified Fast!
Pharmacy technicians typically need to a high school diploma, GED or equivalent to start the training and education required to become certified. If you’ve got a high school diploma or GED, you can get certified as a pharmacy technician in usually under a year! Sounds great, right? Pharmacy technology programs are typically offered through community colleges or vocational schools. Some programs can last longer and lead to an Associate’s Degree, if one chooses. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, or ASHP, accredits pharmacy technology programs.
Some pharmacy technicians can actually become trained and certified on the job once they’re hired. This depends on the state and the workplace, but might be an option for some who decide to become a pharmacy technician.
Check out College Overview’s school search engine to find a school that offers pharmacy technician programs near your desired location! Additionally, read through our post 5 Tips to Pay Less for College to make sure you’re saving money on your education.
For a field that only requires a year or less of education, the pay is great! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians had a median annual wage of $31,750 as of 2017. However, the median annual wage changes depending on the work environment of pharmacy technicians. Here is what pharmacy technicians make and in what environment:
- Local, state and private hospitals: $36,710 per year
- General merchandise stores: $31,320 per year
- Food and beverage stores: $29,860 per year
- Pharmacies and Drug stores: $29,500 per year
The salaries of pharmacy technicians also varies by states. The states with the highest-earning pharmacy technicians are Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, California and Washington.
Very Positive Job Outlook
Jobs for pharmacy technicians are ever-growing, and because of this, aspiring pharmacy technicians can more easily find a job. The employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow at a rate of 12% between 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average of all occupations!
There are some states where jobs for pharmacy technicians are expected to grow even faster than the national average. The states with the best job outlook and fastest projected employment rates for pharmacy technicians are:
- Idaho: 32% by 2022
- Utah: 30% by 2022
- Colorado: 30% by 2022
- Texas: 28% by 2022
- Tennessee: 26% by 2022
Room for Growth and Advancement
Becoming a pharmacy technician isn’t the top of the ladder for those going into the field if they’d like to advance. Pharmacy technicians have great room for growth and advancement within their careers. Pharmacy technicians can go on to become:
Some pharmacy technicians may choose to continue their education and become pharmacists. Pharmacists oversee pharmacy technicians, and work under the care of medical doctors. Pharmacists distribute medications to patients and offer advice to ensure prescriptions are used safely by patients. Pharmacists must have a Bachelor’s Degree and then go on to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. They must also be licensed. For more information on pharmacists, you can visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook here.
Nuclear Medicine Technologists
Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and administer radioactive drugs for patients for therapeutic or imaging purposes. They also provide technical support to physicians and other personnel. Nuclear medicine technologists usually need an Associate’s Degree in nuclear medicine technology, and then go on to become certified. Some nuclear medicine technologists also choose to earn a Bachelor’s Degree and then go on to become certified. If you’re curious about learning more about nuclear medicine technologists, click here!
Medical Laboratory Technicians
Medical laboratory technicians use medical equipment to collect and analyze samples of body fluids, tissues, and other substances from the body. They usually always need at least an Associate’s Degree, but most have Bachelor’s Degrees. Some states require licensing and certification after earning a degree. Want to learn more about medical laboratory technicians? Visit the page for medical laboratory technicians through the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Do You Have What it Takes?
If having a variety of tasks at work, the ability to become certified quickly, a good salary, great job prospects, and room for growth and advancement are something you desire in a career, then you may have what it takes to become a pharmacy technician!
Remember the benefits of becoming a pharmacy technician:
- Large variety of tasks and duties
- Fast certification and education options
- Good salaries
- Very positive job prospects
- A lot of room for advancement
Consider becoming a pharmacy technician for a rewarding, prosperous career!