As assistants to licensed pharmacists, certified pharmacy technicians are in high demand across the United States. If you are interested in earning your pharmacy technician certification, you may find yourself wondering about the benefits of this career choice. Here are several for you to consider:
There are a number of different ways to obtain pharmacy technician certification. Diploma, certificate, and associate's degree programs are available at community colleges and vocational schools across the United States. You can also find training opportunities through hospitals and the military. Programs range in length from six months to two years, although you may be able to reduce the length of time required by transferring previously earned college credits or earning credit through completion of College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests.
In some cases, it is possible to complete a pharmacy technician certification online. This allows you to schedule coursework around other commitments, which is particularly helpful if you're currently working full time. However, you will need to keep in mind that some online training programs do not meet the requirements for receiving federal student financial aid.
While some people are perfectly happy to work in a solitary environment, others prefer jobs that offer social interaction. As a pharmacy technician, you will come into contact with a variety of people on a daily basis. You will work with a team of health care professionals, including pharmacy aides and licensed pharmacists. Your patients will include infants, children, teenagers, working adults, and the elderly. You can expect to visit with people from many different social and cultural backgrounds.
For many pharmacy technicians, the opportunity to help others is an important benefit of their career choice. Helping people get the medications they need to deal with illness or injury can be very satisfying. Providing drug information and education to patients is a tangible way to help people in their time of need. If someone is suffering from an unpleasant side effect from medication, for example, you can use your knowledge to help the patient cope with the problem.
Pharmacy technicians enjoy a pleasant work atmosphere. Pharmacies are clean, organized, and well ventilated. Most pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies that are located in large retail stores, but there are many employment opportunities available at hospitals, mail-order pharmacies, nursing homes, and assisted-living facilities as well.
Although most places require pharmacy technicians to occasionally work nights, weekends, and/or holidays, there is usually a fair amount of flexibility in your schedule. In many cases, part-time positions are available. This makes obtaining pharmacy technician certification a great choice for parents who are seeking to balance the need to earn a steady salary with the desire to care for their young children.
For the level of training that is required, pharmacy technicians earn a good salary. Positions often start with hourly wages between $9 and $11. Experienced pharmacy technicians can make $15 or more per hour, especially if they specialize in an area such as chemotherapy or nuclear pharmacy.
Most employers offer a generous benefits package for pharmacy technicians. They are eligible for health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. In many cases, they can receive tuition reimbursement to take classes toward becoming a licensed pharmacist.
In some cases, pharmacy technicians may be represented by unions for hospital or grocery store workers. This provides additional protection regarding wages, benefits, and working environment.
In today's economy, many professions are experiencing limited growth. However, the health care industry continues to grow. Opportunities for people who have earned pharmacy technician certification are expected to remain strong. As the general population ages and new prescription medications are developed, pharmacies will be busier than ever before. In addition, cost-cutting measures at many pharmacies have led pharmacy technicians to be given responsibilities that were once the job of licensed pharmacists.
If you earn your pharmacy technician certification and decide you must move to another state, you'll be please to know that your certification is valid anywhere in the United States. Unfortunately, some states have additional requirements for pharmacy technicians beyond passing the PTCB exam for certification. Contact your State Board of Pharmacy for details.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013
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