How to become a Pharmacy Technician
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A career as a pharmacy technician is one of the easiest ones to get into in the medical industry. Students often overlook the fact that pursuing a career in the healthcare field does not necessarily involve emotional and physical demands, academic competition, and long years spent in medical school.You’ll be surprised at how rewarding the career of a pharmacy technician can be, for example. We give you some insight into the career, training and qualifying to become a pharmacy technician, duties involved, career scope and employment opportunities.
What is a Pharmacy Technician?
A pharmacy technician can be defined as a member of the staff in a pharmacy who is involved in caring for patients through filling in of prescriptions, their delivery, and recording of dosages on respective patient records. Today, pharmacists have sought to take a more active role in the care of patients. No longer do they only serve basic responsibilities that pharmacists have never had time for. This is reflected by the rising demand and availability of jobs in this sector. That’s because of the bottom line that healthcare is improving, more people live for longer, and thus need for more medications as they age.
Whether or not becoming a pharmacy technician is the best career choice for you does depend on the amount of motivation you have, your career aspirations, and the stage in life you’re at. For example, you’d probably be way better off as a stock broker if your main aim is to become a wealthy and affluent citizen. So, think wisely before you make the decision over spending the next few years training to be a pharmacy technician.Read on to learn more about pharmacy technician duties and how to become a pharmacy technician.
Pharmacy Technician Qualifications: Do You Even Need Any?
The first thing you’ll want to figure out after you’ve set your mind on a PT career is acquiring the necessary skills and qualifications you will need to become a pharmacy technician. In the US, requirements for pharmacy technician careers are not streamlined by any sort of certification or specialized courses undertaken in the discipline in most states. However, certification may increase your chances of obtaining a demanding job in the field.
Many mature-age students that wish to obtain pharmacy technician education, but do not have the time or money to attend a conventional course center, will choose the online education path. Here are a couple of the arguments in favour of fulfilling pharmacy technician requirements for certification online:
- Distance learning courses for pharmacy technicians online allow you flexibility over time constraints.
- You can work from the comfort of your own home, pace yourself, and spend more time on the topics that you struggle with.
- You will typically have access to a wide range of materials online and support from the course co-ordinators.
- Pharmacies seek hands-on experience and training in potential candidates.
- If you train to become pharmacy tech online instead of at a real-life school, you save money.
Training to Become a Pharmacy Technician
The wiser route to follow in order to become a pharmacy tech would be a short course at TAFE and certification, followed up by an internship and relevant paid work experience in the field. A number of TAFE colleges will offer courses of 6 months to a year. Following that, you will sit the PTCB exam, National Pharmacy Technician Certification. However, the downside here is that you’ll need to constantly re-register and re-new your registration every 2 years after that. This can get costly.
Beware that it might be more difficult to obtain an internship after studying some online course. Choose a reputable school to invest your money in if you have no other option. Recommended courses are those offered by the Penn Foster Career School and Ultimate Medical Academy. The internship is the training module of your preparation to become pharmacy tech. In most cases, this will count for even more than your certification in the field. Sometimes, employers will prefer a candidate with 5+ years’ experience over
recently certified graduates due to them being more well-versed and versatile in rendering of pharmacy technician responsibilities.
Pharmacy Tech Duties: What Do They DO?
Pharmacy techs are responsible for helping other professionally licensed pharmacists in the workplace with administration tasks that help in the pharmacy’s operation. Pharmacy technicians ensure day-to-day operations run in a smooth manner by stocking shelves, balancing up the accounting books, and doing other clerical duties.
So, what will your pharmacy tech duties in the workplace involve? Here are some of the things you’ll be ding:
- Receiving requests and prescriptions via phone, e-mail, or writing
- Verify details regarding prescriptions
- Update and maintain profiles of patients, particularly the medication list
- Respond to phone calls
- Fill medication bottles, labels them, and replenishes stock in pharmacy.
- Double check patient insurance issues
In our opinion, pharmacy technicians seem to get the best of both worlds by working in a field that contributes to overall health and wellbeing of the community (i.e. ‘helping people’) while at the same time not needing to slog away at school for decades to become one. Simultaneously, they get a commendable salary package accompanying it, short working hours, and avoid having to deal with the emotional stress of working in a hospital. So, there it is. Now, that you know how to become a pharmacy tech, go ahead and make your dreams and career goals come true.
Scope & Growth of Career: How Fast Can You Advance in a PT Job
As with all careers, a certified pharmacy technician has opportunities of advancement to look forward to in the career. Having the determination, motivation, and skills to impress those you are working for can be very helpful, in this respect. You can become a pharmacy supervisor or manager as your skills and experience are refined over a long-term period of employment.
At a later stage, you may even consider undertaking extra qualifications alongside your work to qualify to be a pharmacist. If you are detail-oriented, in love with medical industry, and enjoy dealing with patients, you can climb up the ranks to a management position within your pharmacy within 5-8 years.
Pharmacy Tech Jobs: How Difficult is it to Find a PT Job?
Once you’ve completed your initial internship as a pharmacy technician and gained some entry level experience in the field, apply to the larger companies in your state. Finding a job should be much easier than it would be if you were in some other, more competitive field.
At a glance, we see that the Bureau of Labour Statistics shows approximately 326 thousand pharmacy techs employed in the US back in 2008. This number has been quite steady and slowly increasing. To be honest, job outlooks on this career, at the moment, seem pretty impressive. The field is predicted to grow even faster through till 2018 than it is now. Compared to other jobs thatrequire experience or training alone, it is thriving.
The number of jobs available and demands for technicians are constantly rising as new medical procedures are developed. It is possible to find a job as a pharmacy technician(PT) in a local pharmacy chain, supermarket, departmental store, clinic, or even hospital. The kind of PT job that will best suit you depends on your personality. Ask yourself:
- Do I want insurance, retirement planning, and 9-5 working hours? Then, work in the retail setting is for you. Technicians here need to be on the go at all times, making sure consumers are happy.
- Do I want work flexibility, independence, and love working with technology and computers? Then, perhaps a mail order pharmacy PT job would suit you. These companies integrate the medication delivery process with e-commerce to cut costs. This allows them to pay you more, provide improved benefits, and let you be independent.
- Do I want direct patient contact, enjoy teamwork, and show interest in personal care? Then, a hospital PT job would be smart for you. Here, you will fill prescriptions, record patient logs, and work as an active member of the hospital.