What Should a High-Schooler Know About the Pharmacy Technician Career?

High school is a time of change and uncertainty. At that time, we all wish that we knew exactly who we would be 10 years down the road. However, we do not. The following article will address what a high school student should know about the pharmacy technician career.

State Statutes

The first thing I would tell a high school student is to make sure he or she spends time checking state statutes. Every state has different requirements. For example, the age at which a student could legally work at a pharmacy is different from state to state. Some states require technicians to be a minimum age of 16, and others require technicians to be a minimum age of 18. Some states require education, and others do not.

Clean Record

Another important point to consider, and I cannot stress this enough, is to make sure that a high school students keeps his or her nose clean. Some states have VERY stringent requirements as it pertains to drug related felonies and misdemeanors. For example, an individual would not be able to be a pharmacy technician in the state of Nebraska if he or she was caught with drug-related paraphernalia.

Pay

I would also encourage a high school student to explore salary range of technicians in his or her state. On average, pharmacy technicians get paid anywhere from $9 an hour to $18 an hour, which equals out to approximately $20,000 to $40,000 per year. This is an important factor for an individual to consider as he or she explores career options.

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Environment

Pharmacy technicians work in very fast paced and sometimes stressful environments. This career area is not for the faint hearted or those who are sensitive. They will help sick people who, at times, will not be very nice. Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of settings, including but not limited to retail pharmacy sites as well as hospitals. The career area is in its baby stages. People who are not passionate about the career area do not stay in it very long. On the other hand, there are huge changes coming. The only way for the profession to go is up.

Being Prepared

A high school student should become active in biological sciences. Chemistry and anatomy and physiology are good areas of interest that should be explored in high school. Furthermore, courses in law and ethics will come in handy as well as he or she begins his or her pharmacy technician journey. I would also encourage him or her to seek CPR certification. Every health care professional should possess this life-saving skill. The best way to learn about a career is to actually observe others doing or performing in the career. It would be very beneficial for a high school student to observe technicians doing what they do best. I would encourage the student to explore the inpatient and outpatient settings to see which one interests him or her.

Final Thoughts

I have been a pharmacy technician since 2003. I love this career area and am excited to see where it goes. I could not see myself as a nurse as I do not want to be involved in direct care, but I also wanted to help patients.

Elina works full-time at Southeast Community College, running an ASHP-accredited pharmacy technician program, and works part-time for the Arts and Sciences division.

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