Preparing for a career as a Pharmacy Technician involves extensive training, good communication skills, and a willingness to work with the public. A pharmacy technician, also called pharmacy technologist, pharmacy medication technicians, or pharmacy assistants, provide technical assistance for registered pharmacists and work under their direct supervision. They usually work in a chain or independent drug stores, hospitals, community ambulatory care centers, home health care agencies, nursing homes, and in the pharmaceutical industry.
They perform a wide range of technical support functions and tasks relating to the pharmacy profession. They maintain patient records, count, package, and label medication doses; prepare and distribute sterile products; and fill and dispense routine orders for stock supplies such as over-the-counter products. Pharmacy technicians work under the direct supervision of licensed pharmacist, their work is subject to quality-control checks to ensure accuracy.
High school students interested in the pharmacy tech career should take courses in mathematics, science (especially chemistry and biology), and English. Also, in addition courses in speech, typing, computer science, and health will also be useful. Any extracurricular activities such as: drama, science clubs, or other activities, will help in developing communications and interpersonal skills.
Most pharmacy technicians receivetheir education through formal training programs offered through community colleges, vocational/technical schools, hospital community pharmacies, and government programs. The length of the program usually ranges from 6 months to two years, leading to a certificate, diploma, or an associates degree in pharmacy technology. A high school diploma is usually required for entry into these programs. On a personal level, pharmacy technicians must be precision-minded, honest, and mature as they are very much depended on.
They must have good hand and eye coordination and manual dexterity to se delicate equipment and to make correct measurements. They also need to have good communication skills to successfully interact with pharmacists, supervisors and other technicians. Pharmacy technicians are often hired by the hospital or agency where they interned. If employment is not found this way, many use employment agencies or newspaper ads to help locate job openings.
Technicians often wear scrubs or other uniforms in hospitals, especially in the IV room. Other technicians may only be required to wear casual clothing. Pharmacy technicians generally work in health care institutions that are clean and well-lighted. They work under quiet to moderately noisy conditions. They work closely with pharmacists and other pharmacy technicians and frequently interact with other individuals. Pharmacy technicians may specialize in one area of responsibility, such as drug dispensing and distribution, or they may handle a combination of responsibilities.
Since they may be required to fill in for other pharmacy technicians, they generally must be trained in all aspects of pharmacy technology. Because most hospitals, nursing homes, and health care centers are open between sixteen and twenty-four hours a day, multiple shifts, weekend, and holiday hours will be required. Most technicians earn between $14,500 to $21,000 per year.
Large hospitals pay more than retail pharmacies, averaging between $16,000 and $23,000. The average starting pay rate for pharmacy technicians is between $6.50 and $15.00 per hour, depending on the location, type of facility, and level of training. Graduates of accredited training programs along with those who are certified, usually receive higher pay than technicians without such training. Salaries are higher for those who live in the East and West coasts, and in large urban areas. There is also no travel involved with career.
States with high numbers of retirees, such as Arizona, Florida, California, and New Mexico, will offer more job opportunities because of the increased need for medical services. Advancement opportunities for pharmacy technicians depend on where they are employed, experienced technicians may direct or instruct newer pharmacy technicians, make schedules, or move up to purchasing or computer work. Some hospitals have a variety of tech designations, based on experience and responsibility, with an increase in pay.
Experienced technicians will be needed as staff. Some pharmacy techs may choose to return to school to pursue a degree in pharmacy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of pharmacy technicians will increase much faster than the average for all occupations. The 54,000 pharmacy technician employed in 1992 are expected to increase to 76,000 by 2005, an increase of nearly 42 percent.
A number of factors will support the increasing employment of pharmacy technicians, including an aging population, and an increase in the size and number of healthcare institutions. In conclusion, I am still very interested in this job as a short term goal. After I get comfortable with it I would like to go a step ahead and get my degree as a pharmacist. One of the disadvantages of the job are the hours, the multiple shifts, weekend, and holiday hours. I would much rather have a Monday through Friday job from 9 to 5. But overall I am still interested in pursuing this career.