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Pharmacy Technician in a nutshell

How many pharmacy technicians have you met in your lives? If you answered none, then you would be surprised to find out that there are more and more people opting to take up this profession despite seeing it as a job that’s less than trendy. Of course, there are still people who would studiously pursue their dream of becoming a doctor or surgeon, but with flexibility and convenience in everyone’s mind now, more people are looking up courses to become pharmacy technicians.

Pharmacy technician duties – what do they actually do?

What’s a pharmacy technician? In a nutshell, he or she is a pharmacist’s aide and is also known as a pharmacist’s assistant. A pharmacy tech performs a wide range of pharmaceutical duties such as preparing prescriptions, dealing with paperwork, ringing up cash register and basically assisting the pharmacist with as many tasks as he or she is authorized to do so.

Benefits of becoming a pharmacy technician

Although some people view pharmaceutical assisting as a lowly job, all pharmacy technicians should consider themselves the vital spokes in a wheel that keeps the vehicle going. Being a pharmacist’s aide does not degrade the job. In fact, there are numerous benefits attached to the pharmacy technician profession. They include:

  • Job stability: It is no secret that the health care sector is worth billions of dollars. To get a piece of the pie, you can start off by being employed as a pharmacy technician. Whether you choose to earn a living in a hospital or retail pharmacy, you can be sure that this job is very much in demand and it is unlikely that you will not be laid off due to “bad economic times”. This is because a pharmacy technician is indispensable in a pharmacy as a pharmacist alone cannot single-handedly cope with the workload. You will also be comforted to know that when large pharmacy chains purchase smaller ones, employees will simply be transferred to their new jobs.
  • Relatively short duration of education and training: It takes approximately 9 to 12 months for a student to complete a basic pharmacy technician course. Courses are often affordable, but should a student be lucky enough to obtain informal training, he or she will study under reputable pharmacists before starting work. Immediately after completing training, he or she will be able to get hired easily in a large retail pharmacy.
  • Modest to attractive salary: For a profession that does not strictly require formal education, a pharmacy technician can garner $28,000 or more a year. With further certification and experience, talented pharmacy techs who have proven their seniority can earn more than twice that amount while enjoying other perks related to health insurance and retirement.
  • Flexible hours: A pharmacy technician is usually free to choose his or her own hours. If you decide to work full-time and immerse yourself in pharmaceutical work head on, you may choose to work at one of the many pharmacies that open round the clock. Otherwise, you can take up a part-time position and further your studies to achieve the next level of pharmacy technician certification.

Pharmacy technician vs pharmacist

Many people often mistake a pharmacy technician as the more “techy’” version of a pharmacist. This is of course not true, as a pharmacy technician is defined as a pharmacist’s assistant who aids in his daily work. Other differences between a pharmacy technician and a pharmacist include:

  • A pharmacy technician gets paid $10 to $18 per hour while pharmacists get to bring home hourly pay of up to $40. With experience and further certification, a pharmacy technician will gain a higher salary, but by then he or she would be free to pursue other professions in the medical field.
  • It is mandatory for a student to spend six years or more in college before he can proudly call himself a pharmacist, but if you are eager to pursue a career as a pharmacy technician, you only need a year or so to complete a relevant course. Even without it, you may opt to gather training on the job, obviously under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist or a senior pharmacy technician.
  • A pharmacy technician does not have as many responsibilities compared to a pharmacist as the law limits the duties a pharmacy technician may undertake.

Becoming a pharmacy technician

Signing up for pharmacy technician programs

Pharmacy technician programs are rather popular in the medical scene these days due to its flexibility and affordable cost. As long as you are armed with a high school diploma and a genuine interest to help others, you are pretty much equipped to embark on a career as a pharmacy technician.

Informal education and training

In some cases, students who are eager to dive into the world of pharmaceutical assisting may be able to do so sooner than they think. If they cannot afford to enrol in a school that offers the appropriate courses, they may be able to study under an understanding licensed pharmacist. As some states do not impose specific qualification on pharmacy technicians, students can opt to apply for on-the-job training which will take a year or more. All they need is a high school diploma or equivalent. Armed with basic certificates and a smidgen of clever reasoning, a student can easily obtain training while being hired by pharmacies. Although the pay will not amount to six figures a year, a hardworking pharmacy technician-in-training can easily rise up in ranks and prove to be a great asset in the future.

Pharmacy technician certification – is it necessary?

The answer to the question above is a resounding YES. In the past decade, pharmacy technicians would happily go about their daily work without a care in the world when all of a sudden, there was a call for pharmacy technicians to be certified. This is not a bad thing at all as most pharmacy technicians found out that their pay got bumped up significantly. This leads to promise of a better future for pharmacy technicians as they are able to constantly improve their abilities and obtain better work satisfaction while supporting their family.

The future of a pharmacy technician

Health care analysts predict that the pharmacy technician profession will experience exponential growth in the next decade. Due to shortage of pharmacists, more and more pharmacy techs are being hired to fill the gap. When it was once the norm to see two or three pharmacists in a pharmaceutical setting, it is now the trend to hire several pharmacy technicians to assist the sole pharmacist employed there.

The current pharmacy technician job outlook is pretty sunny in the next decade as analysts projected growth of 22% in terms of employment in this lucrative sector. If you’re thinking about getting a stable job that pays relatively well according to your capabilities, this is probably a good time to jump onto the pharmacy technician bandwagon.

Filed in: Pharmacy Technician, Pharmacy Technician Career

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