The pharmacy technician field is expected to grow by about 4% through 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means there will be about 15,000 jobs added in the next decade, in a field that already supports nearly 423,000 jobs across the country. The bottom line? Now is a great time to earn a certification and start working in a field that’s both rewarding and heading upwards.
Pharmacy technicians have many responsibilities from day-to-day, and, in this guide, we’ll cover some of those so you can get a better picture of what you’ll be doing. From labeling medications to interacting with customers, the pharmacy technician is one of the most important components of a functional pharmacy.
Let’s take a look at what it takes to become a pharmacy technician.
Get A Certification
First, you’ll need to obtain your CPhT certification. To do this, you’ll want to sign up for a pharmacy tech school. There are thousands of options available both on and offline, and some of them cost as little as $5,000 for the entire course. There are also fast-track courses, which can get you through your coursework and onto the exam in as few as 10 months.
Whichever school you choose, just be sure it’s accredited. If it’s not, your certification could potentially have no value in the field. Once you’ve passed your courses, sign up for the exam at https://www.ptcb.org/credentials/certified-pharmacy-technician. Your certification will help you find work in the field and keeps you on record with the state you’re working in.
Typical pharmacy technicians start out at around $13-$16 per hour or an annual salary of about $30,000-$33,000 per year. The lowest 10% of salaries fall in at around $24,000-$26,000 per year. Overall, this is a good career choice with a decent starting salary, and different pharmacy environments offer different pay.
What You’ll Be Doing
What does a pharmacy technician do on a daily basis? Let’s take a closer look at some of the things you’ll be responsible for in the pharmacy.
Pharmacy technicians typically work at a retail pharmacy like Walgreens, Wal Mart, or CVS, or in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and even mail-order pharmacies. Specific duties may differ from place to place, but generally, these are the duties you can expect to perform as a pharmacy tech in any sector.
Assisting With Prescriptions
You’ll assist the pharmacist with filling, labeling, and even measuring prescription medications. This is an important duty that requires attention to detail and a good eye for errors. The wrong measurement can have an unpleasant or even harmful effect on the patient, so it’s important to take your time and pay attention to the pharmacist’s instructions.
Taking/Making Calls/Interacting With Patients
If you choose to work in a retail pharmacy, you’ll be taking phone calls, calling patients, and interacting with them over the counter. This means dealing with the public. This will require patients and great customer service skills, as people aren’t always pleasant. Some people become frustrated or even downright angry if insurance claims don’t process or they can’t get their medications.
You’ll likely be required to work the drive-thru, answer the phone and take down information, and call patients to let them know that prescriptions are available.
There’s plenty of paperwork that comes with any medical profession, but luckily, most information is stored digitally nowadays. Even so, you’ll have to file digital paperwork properly, ensuring the accuracy of names, addresses, and other personal information. It’s also important to ensure you’re staying in compliance with local, federal, and state regulations when it comes to medical paperwork and patient privacy. You’ll learn all about HIPAA in pharmacy tech school.
Another important duty you’ll be responsible for is organizing medications appropriately, storing narcotics and other medications in the right place, and ordering stock for the pharmacy. States have specific deadlines for storing controlled substances that you’ll need to follow, and if you don’t, you could lose your job and the pharmacy could incur massive fines or other legal penalties.
Medication is delicate by nature, and some meds require specific environmental conditions to stay fresh. It’s up to you to help the pharmacist in ensuring everything is stored properly, and that you don’t run out of medication.
Is This The Right Path For Me?
Becoming a pharmacy technician can take as little as 10 months, won’t cost as much as other degrees, and offers a good stepping-stone into the medical field with a decent starting salary. It does require attention to detail and a certain level of compassion and empathy since you’re working with people. If this all sounds good and you fit the requirements, sign up for an online course today and take the first step toward your new career.