What To Know About Being a Pharmacy Technician
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- Pharmacy technician training programs take about a year of full-time study to complete.
- Certified pharmacy technicians enter a growing field with opportunities for advancement.
- Training and experience may lead to various degrees and medical careers.
Whether facilitating COVID-19 vaccinations and testing or providing clients with essential pandemic-era medical information, pharmacy technicians play a critical role in day-to-day healthcare services.
For people interested in a field rooted in medical care and customer service, a pharmacy technician training program can be a practical way to enter the medical field.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the pharmacy technician field is projected to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029.
Entering the medical field as a pharmacy technician can serve as a pathway to other jobs, like pharmacy supervisor. Individuals can also opt to further their education, pursuing academic paths in pharmacy, science, and other medical areas.
Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to be a pharmacy technician.
What Is a Pharmacy Technician?
As frontline workers in the medical field, pharmacy technicians tackle many responsibilities. These professionals fill prescriptions and communicate with prescribing physicians, all while ensuring clients receive their medications in a safe and timely manner.
Pharmacy technicians may also be responsible for processing insurance claims, maintaining medical records, and responding to client inquiries.
While pharmacy technicians mainly work in pharmacies, hospitals and health clinics often employ them, as well. Since these workers handle sensitive medical information and controlled substances, states mandate specialized training for pharmacy technicians.
What Training Does a Pharmacy Technician Need?
Most pharmacy technicians earn high school diplomas before moving on to specialized training and pursuing associate or bachelor's degrees. After completing their pharmacy technician coursework, these professionals often branch out into jobs like certified pharmacy technician, lead pharmacy technician, and pharmacy supervisor. Professionals who want to become pharmacists must earn a Pharm.D. degree.
When selecting a pharmacy technician training track, prospective students can choose between online and on-campus programs. While on-campus programs have their benefits, many students enjoy the flexibility of online pharmacy technician training. Whether online or on campus, students should consider a program's cost and accreditation before enrolling.
Pharmacy technician training programs usually take about a year of full-time study to complete. Consisting of about 30 credits, coursework topics typically include pharmacology, HIPPA and regulatory law, and insurance billing. Common pharmacy training program courses also focus on hospital pharmacy, pharmacy calculations, and pharmaceutical dosage forms.
Additionally, many programs require students to tackle pharmacy internships in professional, supervised environments. Students can gain hands-on experience filling prescriptions, communicating with customers, and familiarizing themselves with pharmacy software by participating in clinical pharmacy internships.
Top pharmacy technician programs offer students a curriculum accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. After completing their pharmacy technician certificate, learners can earn their professional credentials by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board examination. In addition to preparing for pharmacy technician work, many students choose to go on and pursue undergraduate, pre-pharmacy degrees.
What Is the Career Outlook for Pharmacy Technicians?
The BLS projects the pharmacy technician field to expand by over 15,000 positions between 2019 and 2029. The field's job growth projection of 4% is on pace with the national average for all U.S. jobs. In 2019, there were over 422,000 U.S. pharmacy technician jobs.
Careers in this field also include roles like lead pharmacy technician and pharmacy supervisor. These leadership roles often require a bachelor's degree and additional on-the-job experience. They may provide professionals with more responsibility and higher wages.
For someone interested in pursuing a doctoral degree, getting started as a pharmacy technician can offer on-the-job training plus a source of income while pursuing additional school.
What Is the Salary Potential for Pharmacy Technicians?
Salaries vary for pharmacy technicians, but the BLS reported that these workers earned an annual median salary of over $35,000, as of May 2020. The highest 10% of pharmacy technician salaries exceeded $50,400 annually. Pharmacy technicians working in state, local, and private hospitals tend to earn higher salaries than their peers in other settings.
As workers gain more experience in the field, their career options and earning potential may expand. According to PayScale, as of August 2021, pharmacy supervisors reported earning an average base salary of over $114,000 per year.
While higher-earning roles often require a bachelor's degree and experience, this career path allows for professional growth.
Frequently Asked Questions About Being a Pharmacy Technician
Is being a pharmacy technician a good career?
Working as a pharmacy technician offers the personal satisfaction of helping individuals manage medical issues, and it also provides potential for professional growth. Pharmacy technicians often use this role to jump-start their careers in the medical industry and utilize their experience in both academic and professional ways.
Is being a pharmacy technician stressful?
Like many jobs, being a pharmacy technician can get stressful. Pharmacy technicians handle medications vital to clients' health. However, this potential stressor may be offset by the training these professionals receive and the experienced supervisors and pharmacists on hand. As this career path is public-facing and service-oriented, pharmacy technicians learn to offer expert customer service.
Do pharmacy technicians make good money?
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for all U.S. workers was around $41,900 in May 2020. Pharmacy technicians' annual median income was reported as about $35,000. As workers gain more experience and take on greater responsibilities, they typically earn higher wages. Pharmacy technicians with additional education and years on the job can take on roles like lead pharmacy technician and pharmacy supervisor. These jobs often pay significantly more.