How to Become a Pharmacy Technician
In today’s tough economy, it really pays to stay ahead of the curve. Entering the job market as a pharmacy technician is one way to do just that. The current rates of population expansion and higher life expectancy indicate an ever increasing demand for pharmaceuticals. Pharmacy technicians have to be physically present to do their job, which limits outsourcing, and there is no chance of becoming obsolete in a world where people will always need medications. A stable, rewarding and lucrative job, and here’s how to get it.
Pharamcy Technician Description
Pharmacy technicians work, as the name implies, in pharmacies, but they do far more than just dealing with pharmaceuticals. Since they deal with patients, physicians, pharmaceutical and insurance companies on a daily basis, customer service is at the top of the list of things they are responsible for. Closely behind follow the actual pharmaceutical skills such as receiving and completing prescription requests, counting, measuring and sometimes mixing medications. Clerical skills are also deemed necessary since dealing with insurance companies, maintaining records, and balancing the register are all part of the daily routine in this line of work. While there are pharmacies that will accept applicants with no formal training and barely a high school diploma, most employers are starting to favor those who meet specific requirements and have certain certifications. Knowledge of basic medical terminology and concepts, pharmaceutical methods of calculation, recordkeeping, ethics and laws are required of the aspiring technicians. Administrative skills are also a must considering all the paperwork that must be processed in order to comply with the legalities of both the medical field and the medical insurance companies. With the country still reeling from the effects of massive nationwide layoffs, a growing number of community colleges are introducing pharmacy technician courses. Specialized career training schools such as Kaplan University, for example, also offer courses. The military and a growing number of hospitals are other places to obtain qualifications for this career. There is no standardized national curriculum followed, and the courses at these institutions vary from 6 months to 2 years, while the degrees offered range from a diploma to an associate’s degree. Most of the programs include an internship, in order for the participant to gain some hands-on experience. After completion of the courses, there are a few organizations that offer certification exams, such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT). While not required by most states, certification is desirable because of the competitive edge that is gained by its completion. In order to qualify for the certification, both the organizations mentioned above require a felony-free record and at least a high school diploma, while the PTCB additionally requires that the applicant also be free of any drug-related convictions. Whether it is a prospective pharmacy technician receiving on-the-job training or an intern getting hands-on experience, there are a few key points both will be trained on. Precision is probably the single most important thing to be learned, since dosage is often literally a matter of life or death. Math, reading and language skills are also stressed as much as possible. Future projections for pharmacy technician jobs are very positive. There is ample room for job creation within this field, since the demand is continually one step ahead of the supply. As time goes on, those with certifications and formal training will be in a better position. Job advancement opportunities are also available, and some technicians may even become pharmacists, although a fair amount of formal training is required. Other areas for growth are supervisory or marketing and sales positions. Technicians may even specialize in other areas after going through the required training, such as chemo certification. Salary and benefits are also quite attractive, with the average salary of $22,580 per year depending on qualifications and seniority. Stable job security, good pay and career advancement are already among the perks of the job of a pharmacy technician. Add to that the icing on the cake: Making a difference in the world by helping people get the medications they need.