Pharmacy technicians fulfill a vital function of a successful pharmacy. Alongside a certified pharmacist, they’ll help with a variety of tasks, including processing paperwork, handling medications, and even interacting with customers (in a retail environment).
Millions of Americans depend on their prescription medications to help manage everything from blood pressure to hormonal imbalances and beyond. With pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, they would have no way to get their much-needed medications! If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a pharmacy tech, here’s everything you need to know in one simple guide.
Most Programs Take Two Years or Less
You’re probably dreading the thought of spending 4-6 years in school and racking up thousands in debt, right? I don’t blame you! The American student loan debt is somewhere in the billions of dollars, and is only growing every year! Who wants to add an extra $20,000 to their debt pile?
Luckily for you, pharmacy technician programs usually take only 1-2 years to complete, and usually have a fixed cost! A pharmacy technician certification from UMA or another pharmacy tech school will set you on the fast-track to a brand new career without leaving you thousands of dollars in debt in the process.
There are even some programs that only take ten months to complete, so you could have a totally new career in under one year! Choose your program wisely, however. Make sure you’re not getting stuck in a 4-year program unnecessarily, and be sure your program offers hands-on training opportunities in addition to your studies.
The Industry Is Growing
The job outlook for the field looks good, at 7% in the next decade or so, which is higher than average. The industry is looking to add thousands of jobs as the healthcare industry itself continues to expand and employ more and more people. According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 420,000 pharmacy technician positions in 2018.
This means that you’ll have a good chance of finding employment in the field once your education is complete. It’s always good to consider whether or not the industry you’re studying will even have a job for you, with so many graduates being forced to accept jobs outside their field of expertise due to low demand.
One thing is for certain: we’ll always need the healthcare industry. As long as people are sick, there will need to be people in place to help care for them. And, let’s be honest; being sick is just part of the human experience and probably isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.
You Can Work In Several Pharmacy Environments (Not Just Retail)
Most graduates of pharmacy tech programs assume they’re stuck working in retail pharmacy environments. While a large percentage of pharmacy tech positions exist in retail operations like CVS, Walgreen, and even Wal-Mart, there are other options for those who don’t prefer retail. Retail has its own challenges, and you’ll be dealing directly with customers, which isn’t for everyone.
As a certified pharmacy technician, you can find work in independent pharmacies, hospitals, or even nursing home/long-term care facilities. If you prefer to work behind the scenes and don’t want to deal directly with customers, these are good options to consider. You’ll still be performing essentially the same duties, minus the face-to-face interactions.
What does a pharmacy tech actually do, anyway? A pharmacy technician works under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist, helping with medications, paperwork, and any other tasks assigned by the pharmacist. Depending on your environment, you might also have to work a cash register and perform other duties as well.
Wherever you work, you’ll always be under the supervision of a pharmacist. You might find that you like it so much that you want to go on to become a pharmacist yourself! Pay close attention to what your pharmacist tells you, as they probably have a wealth of information to share that can benefit you later in your career path.
How much will you make starting out as a pharmacy technician? The number varies state-to-state and depends on experience and several other factors. According to BLS.gov, the average salary for a pharmacy tech in the US falls at around $16/hour, which amounts to somewhere between $30-$33k per year.
Of course, you can always qualify for wage increases as you gain experience, and depending on the pharmacy environment you’re working in, the wages may be higher than average. Usually, pharmacy techs working inside hospitals make higher wages than retail techs.
It’s A Rewarding Career!
Becoming a pharmacy technician offers a chance to help people on a daily basis. Put your dedication to humanity and your compassion to work by helping people get the right prescriptions to keep them healthy and functioning. You’ll go home each day knowing that you did something great for someone else, and that’s a feeling you can’t buy.
Becoming a pharmacy technician is a shorter process than other degrees, can set you up with a good wage, and offers plenty of opportunity for advancement and new learning opportunities. Get started today and earn your certification in 10-24 months (depending on your program).