The job of a pharmacy technician may not seem attractive compared to other professions in the health care field. It is primarily deskwork, which means if you work as a pharmacist’s assistant, you’d be dealing mostly with paperwork and client handling. Many people find that kind of work boring. Little do these people know that the pharmacy technologist faces a lot of challenges and stresses on the job. Besides, even though the pay isn’t that big, it’s still decent and – more importantly – steady. You can live a comfortable life with a pharmacy tech career.
Job Outlook and Salary
How much money can you expect to take home if you work as a pharmacy technologist? Generally you’d be paid anywhere from $9 to $11 per hour. On the average, your expected pharmacy technician salary is around $18,000 to $20,000 a year. There are a couple of factors that affect these numbers, though. One is the kind of employer you have. The other is the location of your employer’s business.
As a pharmacy technologist, you can either work in retail or in institutional pharmacies. Working in retail means employment at a drugstore, whether it’s a small kiosk in a supermarket or an actual brick-and-mortar drugstore. Working in institutional pharmacies, on the other hand, means working at hospitals and specialized health care facilities.
Bigger drugstores and health care institutions pay their employees more. An entry-level pharmacy technician in these places can receive a salary of at least $30,000 annually. This figure can go up if the drugstore or hospital is located in a large city.
The annual salary of a pharmacist’s assistant may seem a tad low. However, you can count on it to increase steadily if you perform well at work. There are experienced pharmacy technologists who earn around $40,000 a year. The outlook is pretty good, too. Because the baby boomer generation is growing old, the demand for pharmacy technologists is on the rise and expected to grow further in the next few years.
Job Description and Requirements
What duties and responsibilities are you expected to do if you work as a pharmacy technologist? As mentioned earlier, pharmacy technician jobs are primarily desk jobs. They assist the licensed pharmacist in running the pharmacy. They help with monitoring and maintaining the stock of drugs and medical supplies. They handle orders done by email, fax or telephone and fill in prescriptions. They deal with insurance representatives.
If you work in retail, you may also be called upon to take care of the checkout. If you work in an institutional setting, you may be tasked to coordinate with surgical technicians and nursing staff in keeping the operating room and wards stocked with the necessary medicine and supplies.
Whether your job places you in retail or in a hospital, you’re required to have a keen eye for detail, quick reflexes and a mind for fast decisions. The pharmacy can be a fast-paced and stressful working environment. In a drugstore, you’d be dealing with people who want to have their prescriptions filled in less than five minutes. In a hospital, you’d be handling numerous demands from nurses, doctors and their assistants. You don’t really have any room for errors in this line of work. Even the tiniest of errors can cause glitches in the patient’s health insurance, or lead to a life-or-death situation for the patient.
Training and Certification
It’s possible for you to get a job as a pharmaceutical technician without prior training or experience. However, you won’t be able to keep that job for long if you don’t get certified. And the minimum requirement for certification is 240 hours of formal training.
You have two options for your pharmacy technician education. You can either find an employer that offers this training in-house or attend a pharmacology school. Employers, however, prefer to hire pharmaceutical technologists who have already completed training at one of the many pharmacy technician schools around. That’s because they won’t have to spend resources on teaching new hires how to do their job. More importantly, there would be better job opportunities and compensation packages awaiting you if you finish at least an associate degree.
Once you’ve finished your training, you need to get certified to do your work. Certification exams are given by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcare Association. You can register for the exam after submitting proofs of your identity as well as paying the examination fees.
If you want steady employment with prospects of higher pay in the future, you should work as a pharmaceutical technologist. A highly trained technologist is in great demand these days. The work of a pharmacy technician may not be glamorous, but you can live a comfortable life with it.