With the US pharmacy sector growing at an incredible rate, there’s no better time to pursue a career in Pharmacy than now. However, the whole process of becoming a pharmacist is typically long and challenging, causing people to shy away, despite their passion. If you desire to work in the pharmaceutical line, there’s an easier route for you. Pharmacy technology offers you the opportunity to work in the same space with pharmacists, doctors, and other medical professionals. Here’s a guide on what it takes to become a pharmacy technician and whether it’s worth your passion.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
It’s not strange to see people equate the job description of a pharmacy technician to that of a pharmacist because they both perform almost the same functions. A pharmacy technician works with doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to discharge its duties. They also have their defined role within the medical unit. Firstly, they work closely with every other medical practitioner in the medical unit, assisting them in carrying out most of the functions within their job description.
In addition to this primary role, there are other things that pharmacy technicians typically do. Some of them include.
Preparing and Providing drug prescriptions for patients
One of the most popular duties of pharmacy technicians today is preparing prescriptions. Preparing these prescriptions goes beyond counting tablets. Some medications like ointments and balms require preparation before use, and pharmacy technicians are in charge of this duty in most hospitals. Additionally, with the invention of E-prescription comes an increased need for pharmacy technicians to monitor and ensure that patients receive the correct prescriptions.
Refilling medications for patients on medical orders
Pharmacy technicians work in specific hospital wards, and one of their duties is monitoring patients’ medications. They would detect when these medications are running out and refill them with the guidance of a medical doctor.
Arranging and packaging of prescribed and available medications
Apart from having your prescribed medications available in the closest Pharmacy, you also want to get the medicines well arranged and packaged for easier consumption. Most pharmacists are typically too busy with their work schedules and need an extra hand to ensure the proper arrangement and packaging of medications. Fortunately, they can employ pharmacy technicians to handle this role, confident that pharm techs have the appropriate training for it.
Processing patients’ insurance claims
In addition to maintaining an organized, effective, and safe pharmaceutical environment, pharmacy technicians can also take on more expanded roles like insurance confirmation. Fortunately, their job gives them enough time to get additional certification where necessary. So acquiring the needed expertise to process patients’ insurance claims comes easy for them.
Taking inventory of medications
Sometimes, despite the intensity of your sickness, you’ll need to drag yourself to a pharmacy to get medication. Now imagine going through this painful stress only to find that the medication you are looking for is out of stock. Painful, right? A pharmacy that has pharmacy technicians working for them will hardly experience this kind of problem because the technicians know that it’s part of their duty to take inventory and report when any medicine is going out of stock.
Area of Specialty
While discussing what a pharmacy technician does, it’s also essential to specify that professionals in this field can work in almost every institution. That’s why you’ll see pharmacy technicians filling up positions in academia, community, government, and other institutions where they are mostly assigned to the clinical department.
Pharmacy technicians can work within any space where their services are required. They can work in retail stores, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, military zones, homes of assisted living, private nursing assistance, and organizations. There’s no work environment a pharmacy technician cannot fit into. Their services are always required, and depending on the workload, their work is often structured in shifts.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
If you are like most other people aspiring to become pharmacy technicians, you’ll probably be wondering how long it takes to become a pharmacy technician.
The duration of time it takes before you can qualify as a pharmacy technician would vary depending on the pharmacy certification program you choose. Different programs have different operating patterns.
Luckily, there are several available certification programs for students to choose from, and each program has its unique completion time.
This is why some programs can be completed within 4-5 months. Others last longer. However, you’ll need 1-2 years of study to earn a certification in this field in most cases.
Informal Training for Pharmacy Technicians
As a professional role that exists majorly to assist the pharmacist, the training process for becoming a pharmacy technician is not as grueling as that of a pharmacist.
In the United States, certain states do not require formal training before being licensed as a pharmacy technician. Most pharmacy technicians in these states quickly assume their role after short stints of on-the-job training. Some of these states include:
- New York
Formal Training for Pharmacy Technicians
There are other formal ways to train as a pharmacy technician. This one gives trainees more edge as they are issued certificates at the end of the program.
There are different places students can be trained to become pharmacy technicians. Some of the most popular places include online classes, colleges, and hospital programs.
Licensing for the Pharmacy Technician
Different states have different rules as far as licensing is concerned. Most states require pharmacy technicians to write an exam to qualify for their license. This exam would test your competency and ability to do well under pressure from the job.
While completion of formal training is required in some states, others are fine with detailed on-the-job training. Some states that require license include,
Is Becoming a Pharmacy Technician a Good Career?
Before choosing a career, most people would take time to find the answers to lingering questions. In the case of a Pharmacy technician, questions such as, “is being a Pharmacy tech worth it?”, “is it worth becoming a Pharmacy technician?” are often asked.
Yes, pharmacy technology is a promising career in its own right.
Even though Pharmacy Technicians do not fit into all the Pharmacist roles, the career remains very lucrative with so many prospects for prospective pharmacy technicians to choose from. It’s therefore not surprising that there are so many benefits attached to the career. Here, let’s review some of them.
A Lucrative Career
One of the most significant benefits of pharmacy technology is that it is a continuously expanding profession that needs professionals to fill roles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technician jobs are expected to grow by 12% through 2026, so prospective pharmacy technicians can be guaranteed numerous career opportunities as they venture into this field.
Minimal Certification Period
Unlike most other careers in the medical line, qualifying to become a Pharmacy technician does not consume so much time. Some short-term courses can be completed within 4-5 months. Even the most complex courses can be completed within two years. So, practitioners can acquire the necessary skills and certification within the shortest possible time.
Direct Relation to Medical Practitioners
The Pharmacy technician is the right-hand person of the pharmacists and other medical practitioners. A role in pharmacy tech provides you an opportunity to work directly with pharmacists, doctors, and nurses. If you’ve always admired the medical profession but can’t get into it for any reason, pharmacy technology offers you the closest experience you can get to being a medical professional.
Flexible Work Location/Condition
A role in pharmacy tech does not pigeonhole you into one position. The profession is flexible, and pharmacy technicians can work anywhere. Therefore, it’s not surprising that pharmacy technicians can have enough time to take other courses and pursue further certifications without necessarily putting their profession on hold.
What are the Pros and Cons of Becoming a Pharmacy Tech?
Pharmacy technicians play a vital role within the medical unit of any institution with a functioning medical facility. They work next to the pharmacists, assisting them with almost everything. While most of the pros of being a pharmacy technician are obvious, some people are oblivious of the cons. This section discusses that further.
Pros of Becoming a Pharmacy Tech
Minimum Requirement: It’s not surprising that many people think of this field as easy to get into. There are little-to-no requirements depending on which state you live/work in. Depending on your study schedule, this can be a massive benefit for you.
- Close Work with the Pharmacist: This is a significant pro, especially for those who seek to advance into the pharmacist role in the future. As a Pharmacy Technician, you are the right-hand person of the pharmacist, and as such, you can easily learn from them.
- Job Growth: If you are looking to pursue a career in Pharmacy, starting as a pharmacy technician gives you an edge to pursue your dream. With time and further study, you can continue to advance in the field.
- Lucrative: There’s always a high demand for pharmacy technicians. So, irrespective of the number of people going into the field, there’ll always be available roles to fill.
Cons of Becoming a Pharmacy Tech
- Workload: Most times, the job description of the pharmacy tech is not defined, and in that case, they often take up both medical and other administrative work. Working as a pharmacy technician means you are always ready to contain the workload involved.
- No Promotion: As a Pharmacy technician, there’s hardly any room for promotion. Your role is to continuously assist the pharmacist with discharging duties and meeting the needs of patients.
- Stress: Due to the workload involved, pharmacy technicians constantly have to deal with workplace fatigue.
Does Pharmacy Tech Get Paid Enough?
In the United States, the average annual salary of a pharmacy technician is $34,020. This suggests that pharmacy technicians in the United States earn about $2,900 per month on average.
While this can seem satisfying to many people, it’s still short of what most professions with the same work schedule earn. Some statistics claim that pharmacy technicians earn more than $15,000 below other occupations annually.
It’s also important to note that the salary for Pharmacy technicians varies from state to state. Below is a table of some states and their annual salaries.
|State||Pharmacy Technician Salary|
Wrapping Things Up: Is Becoming a Pharmacy Tech Worth It?
That’s it, every information you need to know before switching into this rewarding profession. Now that you’ve decided that you want a career in the pharmaceutical sector, it’s important to begin searching for the right apprentice program for you. Fortunately, it’s not so hard to earn a certification in this field, so you won’t be too stressed. However, we recommend taking an online course alongside your training to help you gain the professional skills and qualities that will stand you out.
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