Are you interested in medicine? Looking for a medical career that you can break into without extensive education?
If so, you might consider becoming a pharmacy technician.
Wondering how to become a pharmacy technician? Looking to learn a little more about the job? This article has all the info you need.
What Is a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy technicians are, in a sense, secretaries to pharmacists. They speak with customers, obtain vital information, and then communicate that information to the pharmacists working in their respective pharmacies.
But that isn’t all pharmacy technicians do. They also help to keep the pharmacy functioning efficiently, stocking machines and taking inventory. Depending on the specific pharmacy in which a tech works, he or she might have other responsibilities as well.
Pharmacy techs generally work in retail pharmacies. However, they’re needed in hospitals and other medical centers as well.
Skills Required to Be a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians don’t need to be anywhere near as educated as pharmacists. That said, they still need to possess a range of skills.
The most important skills for a pharmacy technician to possess are communication skills. Pharmacy techs need to communicate with both customers and pharmacists, both in person and on the phone. As such, they must be able to speak clearly and fluently.
Empathy is an important attribute for a pharmacy technician as well. Customers can demonstrate a range of emotions, from anger to sadness to confusion and more. As the pharm tech, you need to be able to handle them professionally.
Pharmacy technicians can also benefit from being educated in science and math. Knowledge of biology and chemistry, in particular, can make a world of difference. Note, though, that the job is more of a clerical job than a STEM job.
How to Become a Pharmacy Technician
Becoming a pharmacy technician does not require a 4-year college degree. Nonetheless, post-secondary education is still needed. We’ll discuss not only the specifics of this post-secondary education but all of the other steps that must be completed in order to secure employment as well.
Complete an Appropriate Post-secondary Program
The first step in becoming a pharmacy technician is to become certified by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. To do this, you’ll need to complete a post-secondary program at a pharmacy technician school.
Most of these programs are facilitated by vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of where you’re located in the United States, you should have a pharmacy tech program in your general vicinity.
Most pharm tech programs can be completed in just a year. That said, there are 2-year associate’s degree programs available as well.
In the midst of completing your program, you’ll learn about a variety of pharmaceutical-related topics. These topics include pharmaceutical law, pharmacology, pharmaceutical ethics, anatomy, physiology, healthcare systems, and medical terminology.
Obtain On-the-Job Training
Once you’ve completed your post-secondary program, you’ll need to find an on-the-job training opportunity. If you’re lucky, the school at which you completed your program will find an on-the-job opportunity for you. If you’re not, you’ll have to find one yourself.
The most common spots to find on-the-job training opportunities are retail store pharmacies. Think Walmart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and other such stores.
However, hospitals have a need for pharm techs as well. So, if you’d rather avoid retail, there are alternative opportunities available.
Once you’ve completed your on-the-job training, you’ll need to become certified. That is unless you already became certified as a part of your schooling. While it is possible to obtain employment without certification, you’ll find that most employers prefer certified techs.
There are two organizations from which you can obtain certification. One of these is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board; the other is the National Healthcareer Association. The former requires you to pass a test; the latter requires you to participate in a training program.
Secure Full-time Employment
Once you’ve obtained certification from one of the above-reviewed organizations, you can start looking for full-time employment. In some cases, pharm techs will be brought on full-time with the companies with which they did on-the-job training. Others, however, aren’t so lucky.
You can find employment opportunities through Indeed and other such job boards. You might also find some luck in calling around to different retail pharmacies throughout your area.
Just because you’ve found full-time employment as a pharm tech doesn’t mean that you get to keep your certification. In order to keep working, you need to become recertified every 2 years.
Recertification requires you to participate in at least 20 hours of training. It also requires you to pass an exam. For more information on recertification, seek out the organization with which you became certified.
How Much Money Do Pharmacy Technicians Make?
The salaries of pharmacy techs vary based on a number of factors. These factors include experience, employer, specialization, and geographical location.
That said, the average salary of a pharmacy technician in 2018 was $15.72 an hour. That comes out to $32,700 a year.
What Is the Job Outlook of Pharmacy Technicians?
As on 2018, there were 420,400 pharmacy technician jobs available in the United States. It’s predicted that, by 2020, that number will have grown by 7%. This comes out to 31,500 additional jobs in a span of 10 years.
As such, the career of a pharmacy technician is said to be a fast-growing one. It’s above the national average growth rate, meaning that there should be plenty of positions available in the coming years.
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