Disadvantages of Being a Pharmacy Tech

Pharmacy technicians have many advantages to their work, including the opportunity to help others, steady wages, and a strong demand for their services. However, there are some disadvantages to this profession as well. If you're thinking about earning your pharmacy technician certification, you should make sure you're aware of both the positive and negative aspects of the job.

Prescription Drug Abuse

There are strict laws that pharmacies must obey when dispensing medication. Anyone who is trying to obtain drugs improperly creates a professional hazard for the pharmacy technician.

Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse has become a common problem in our society. People of all ages and cultural backgrounds abuse sedatives, tranquilizers, stimulants, and narcotic painkillers. As a pharmacy technician, you must be on the lookout for people who are trying to obtain prescriptions improperly. In some cases, these people may become rude or physically aggressive.

While it's certainly hard to deal with anyone who has a prescription drug abuse problem, pharmacy technicians are placed in an even more difficult situation when the person trying to obtain medication is a family member or friend. These people often don't seem to understand or care that you would be putting your job and future employment opportunities at risk to obtain medication illegally.

Working Conditions

Pharmacy technicians generally work in an environment that is clean, well lit, and pleasant. However, they are expected to be able to stand on their feet for long periods of time. They must also be able to lift heavy boxes and use ladders to reach supplies that are on high shelves. This may not be a problem for you at the beginning of your career, but many older pharmacy technicians find that this eventually becomes one of the most difficult parts of the job.

Another factor to consider when deciding to pursue your pharmacy technician certification is that many pharmacies are open 24 hours per day, seven days per week. This means that you may be expected to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Shift differential pay is often provided for these hours, but this schedule can be hard to manage if you have a spouse and young children at home. If you work at a smaller pharmacy, your schedule may be rotating or change with very little advance notice.

Potential for Dangerous Errors

To be a successful pharmacy technician, you must be very detail-oriented. Prescription orders must be filled precisely, since medication mistakes can have disastrous consequences. Even a simple mistake, such as transposing two numbers on a medication label, can result in someone becoming seriously ill.

Pharmacy technicians are supervised by licensed pharmacists, but they are expected to be able to work independently for the majority of the day. As a pharmacy technician, you can't show up for work tired and distracted if you want to be able to serve patients properly. You must be responsible and focused at all times.

Continuing Education Requirements

Once you've earned your pharmacy technician certification, this does not mean that your formal education is over. New medicines are being developed every day. In recognition of this fact, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) requires you to renew your certification every two years. This requires you to complete 20 hours of continuing education courses. The requirement is the same regardless of whether or not you are working part time or full time.

Continuing education requirements can involve the completion of college courses, computer training, video instruction, or reviewing professional pharmacy journals. Online classes are also available. There are fees for many continuing education activities, although some employers may provide reimbursement for your expenses. In most cases, you will need to complete portions of your continuing education requirements outside of your normal working hours.

Last Updated: 08/20/2013