According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for pharmacy technician careers is good. Employment opportunities for pharmacy technicians are expected to grow much faster than average through 2018. This is due in part to the aging Baby Boomer population. Over the years to come, more and more people will receive coverage for prescriptions, and older people use more prescription medicines than younger ones.
Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in preparing prescriptions and medications. Duties include counting pills and labeling bottles. Pharmacy technicians answer customers’ questions and help with administrative tasks, such as running cash registers and answering telephones. They spend quite a bit of time on their feet and must be able to work consistently and well under pressure.
Individuals interested in pursuing pharmacy technician careers must be attentive to detail and conscious of accuracy. Mistakes in pharmacies can be a matter of life or death. Most pharmacy technicians work in busy retail or hospital environments, so they need to be proficient at multi-tasking. Since customer service is one of the most important responsibilities of a pharmacy technician, candidates for the job must like people and enjoy working with the public. Pharmacy technicians must be trustworthy, since they have access to controlled medications and to people’s prescription information and records.
In most states, there are no formal requirements to become a pharmacy technician. Most states, however, require a high school diploma. Pharmacy technicians receive on-the-job training, but a formal training program is a plus on any candidate’s resume. In pharmacy technician training programs, students learn mathematical skills applicable to measuring and mixing medications and calculating dosages. Students also study medical terminology. Many community colleges and vocational schools offer training programs from which the student will receive a certificate, diploma or associate’s degree.
Certification is required in some states. In all states, it enhances employment prospects. A pharmacy technician may take an examination to become certified through either the Institute for Certification of Pharmacy Technicians or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. To be eligible for either exam, candidates must have a high school diploma, no felony convictions, and no misdemeanor convictions related to drugs. Certification must be renewed every two years on the basis of continuing education.
In 2008, the median wage for pharmacy technicians was $ 13.32 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Formal training increases earning potential. Certified pharmacy technicians tend to earn more than non-certified technicians.
Opportunity for advancement is limited in pharmacy technician careers, but working in the field would teach the employee a great deal about medications and health care practices. Sometimes, pharmacy technicians become interested in specialized medical fields where they can advance further and earn more money. A pharmacy technician might also find himself interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy.
Jane Sanders has written guides to numerous health careers at JobDescriptions.net. Learn more about the pharmacy tech career path by reading her pharmacy technician job description.