There are numerous medical career opportunities for those who seek to make a difference in people’s health.
If you choose to help consumers with their medication needs, you can opt to become a Pharmacy Technician.
The Pharmacy Technician helps the Pharmacist fill prescriptions such as measuring quantities, labeling bottles, and serving customers.
If you are considering becoming a Pharmacy Technician, it is important to be aware of the responsibilities, pros, and cons of being a Pharmacy Technician.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 General Duties of a Pharmacy Technician
- 2 The Pros of Being a Pharmacy Technician
- 3 The Cons of Being a Pharmacy Technician
- 4 Soft Skills for Overall Success as a Pharmacy Technician
- 5 Should You Become a Pharmacy Technician?
- 6 Pros and Cons of Being a Pharmacy Technician – Summary Table
General Duties of a Pharmacy Technician
To begin your consideration for becoming a Pharmacy Technician, here is a list of some basic responsibilities of the profession:
- Assist the Pharmacist with filling prescriptions by way of measuring, counting, pouring, weighing, and mixing quantities of pills and liquids
- Type up prescription labels and label bottles
- Maintain medical inventory by recording dosage amounts, sorting pills, and stocking medication
- Accept payment from customers at the front counter
- Answer customers’ questions and help resolve prescription issues
- Receive and confirm prescriptive information from doctors by phone
- Bill insurance companies and settle insurance claims
- Report any mistakes or system failures to the Pharmacist.
- Use medical technology software to maintain patient records and prepare orders
- Assist in the investigation of drug studies
- Prepare medicines used to treat cancer
- Screen prescription orders for correct medication, strength, and dosage
- Perform medical reconciliation practices to help prevent adverse drug effects
The Pros of Being a Pharmacy Technician
Improving Someone’s Health
The chance to make a difference in the health and vitality of others is very rewarding.
If you do not have the desire or aptitude for working hands-on with a patient but would still like to have an impact on helping others get well, you can still do that as a Pharmacy Technician.
Due to today’s increased life expectancy of the older population, the pharmacy profession increasingly relies on Pharmacy Technicians to assist with serving larger customer loads and permit the Pharmacist to concentrate on complex tasks.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Pharmacy Technician profession is projected to grow at a rate of 12% until 2026, which is faster than average.
The factors that can govern salary are formal training, experience, and the place of employment.
BLS reports show over time that the average earnings of a pharmacy technician have ranged between the high 20,000’s to the mid 30,000s per year.
With increased experience and depending on the employer, that can grow to over $40,000 and higher.
Hospital Pharmacy Technicians earn more than those who work in retail pharmacies because they must have more knowledge of medications.
Shorter Training Period
Unlike some medical professions, Pharmacy Technicians can complete their education at a vocational or community college in less than a year.
Afterward, the technician must pass an exam to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).
Residents of AZ, CA, TX, VA, WVA, AND WY are required to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) to earn the PTCB certificate.
Online classes are available for full-time employees and other busy individuals who cannot take in-person classes.
Clinical externships which must be performed on the job can be scheduled around the technician’s personal and work life.
In addition, training programs may include perks such as tuition payment plans, unlimited tutoring, or on-the-job training hours through a partnered pharmacy.
Varied Work Environment
There are many opportunities to work in different settings, such as retail, clinical, geriatrics, or military.
Technicians can work in a pharmacy, hospital, long-term care facility, outpatient center, or military dispensary.
Technicians can also work in a research lab doing clinical trials or, with years of experience, can become an instructor for pharmacy technician students at a college.
There are opportunities for career advancement.
Some pharmacies offer on-the-job training programs that are mentored by a professional pharmacist, leading to them becoming licensed pharmacists.
Other opportunities are specialized training in mail order pharmacy, veterinary medicine, or customized medications to treat special populations.
Although the minimum requirement to do a pharmacy technician’s job is a high school diploma, formal training is encouraged to give the technician an advantage in the job market.
The certification for a Pharmacy Technician is covered nationally, so a certified Pharmacy Technician may relocate and work anywhere in the U.S. with ease.
There are numerous job opportunities throughout the country.
The Cons of Being a Pharmacy Technician
Customer service can be a challenge when technicians must give patients unwanted news about insurance coverage and copays.
Customers can often become irate over costs or impatient waiting for medication.
Despite the unpleasantness of some people, you have to be able to help customers with prescription issues and answer their questions with patience, calmness, and courtesy.
Many pharmacies are open evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Some, like hospital pharmacies, are open 24 hours.
Pharmacy technicians are expected to work extended and irregular hours.
If you have family or other personal commitments, this may significantly cut your downtime.
As you gain seniority, you could have more control over your schedule, but those starting new have to abide by the shift they are given.
Continuous Educational Requirements
Due to ever-changing regulations in health care and advances in technology and drug treatment, Pharmacy Technicians must recertify every two years to be up-to-date and maintain certification.
Twenty hours of continuing education related to the industry is required, such as patient safety and pharmacy law.
Repetitive Work Duties
Like other health care industries, the pharmacy business is required to follow a daily protocol of operations.
The process of filling prescriptions, getting payment, recording dosages, typing prescription labels, and other duties are necessary practices yet can become mundane for some.
It can become boring and monotonous if you do not feel challenged or see a higher purpose.
Adherence to Drug Laws
Strict laws must be followed in dispensing medication.
As a technician, you must always be on your toes to avoid mistakes that could cause health risks.
A survey revealed that technicians make about five errors per week on average.
The best way to avoid mistakes is to get formal training.
It would also be best to be wary of patients with drug abuse.
Technicians have little time for breaks as they are on their feet throughout their shifts and juggling different responsibilities.
In addition to filling prescriptions and attending to customers, a Pharmacy Technician must be able to pivot between phone and computer to communicate with doctors and insurance companies while also stocking medical supplies.
You are expected to simultaneously handle your clinical and administrative duties as a Pharmacy Technician with accuracy and professionalism.
It is often not easy as the environment is fast-paced.
You are expected to perform quickly and qualitatively with little stopping while remaining helpful and friendly.
Soft Skills for Overall Success as a Pharmacy Technician
In addition to the hard skills that you will learn in your formal and hands-on training, you will need to have soft skills to cope in this work environment.
Although not exclusive to a Pharmacy Technician’s work, the following soft skills are necessary to be successful in the profession.
They are functional skills carried over from past employment or need to be learned to perform the present job competently.
Those hired in entry-level positions with no formal training will learn these skills through experience:
- Customer Service – The ability to serve patients with politeness, calm, and understanding while answering questions and addressing issues.
- Multi-tasking – Performing multiple duties at once and with ease, such as tending to the drive-up window, ringing up customers at the front counter, checking on inventory, and communicating with the pharmacists, doctors, and insurance companies.
- Organization – Prioritizing responsibilities by understanding the order of urgency to accomplish accordingly. Keeping impeccable records.
- Accuracy – Attention to detail with dispensing the correct prescriptions, documentation, and catching errors.
- Communication – Clarity, transparency, and respectability in engaging with others by phone, computer, or person.
- Adaptability – Adjusting to shifting demands at a moment’s notice.
Should You Become a Pharmacy Technician?
Now that you know some of the pros and cons of the profession, you should have a better idea if this is the right career for you.
Also, examine your work habits and personal values.
What would you be able to accept or not accept?
What is your tolerance level?
Perhaps you have a passion for helping others that far outweighs the challenges of the occupation.
Only you can decide for yourself.
Pros and Cons of Being a Pharmacy Technician – Summary Table
|Pros of Being a Pharmacy Technician
|Cons of Being a Pharmacy Technician
|Improving someone’s health
|Continuous educational requirements
|Shorter training period
|Repetitive work duties
|Adherence to drug laws
|Varied work environment