Filling the role of a pharmacy technician comes with numerous perks. Along with career advancement opportunities, you’ll enjoy working with a team of professionals who have a deep passion for improving the livelihood of a diverse range of patients.
Thinking about becoming a pharmacy technician? If so, you’ll definitely want to consider enrolling in a pharmacy technician licensing program. We’ve put together the ultimate go-to guide outlining the many benefits of entering this career field. You’ll also find a section highlighting the many reasons to acquire a pharmacy technician license.
Enjoy a Favorable Growth Rate
As a result of federal mandates associated with the Affordable Care Act, the landscape for America’s pharmacists has seen a dramatic increase in patients. A pharmacist’s role is now more important than it has ever been in increasing patients’ access to care. Unsurprisingly, this increase along with the aging baby-boomer population has the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicting a job growth of 20 percent through 2022 for pharmacy technicians. This statistic alone shows a career as a pharmacy tech is very promising, especially when compared to the average 11 percent predicted growth rate for other occupations. What does this mean for you? It means you should have no problem landing a job as a pharmacy technician.
Short Program Means Fast Access to a Job
A lot of people believe they have to go to college to become a pharmacy technician. Although earning a license as a pharmacy tech is highly recommended, you don’t have to. You don’t even have to be a high school graduate in some states. Earning a license, however, boosts your career opportunities and is favored by most employers.
In as little as nine months, many licensing programs can prepare you to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) and get you on your way to confidently accepting your first job. During the program, students receive loads of practical knowledge and lots of hands-on experience. With certification being possible in less than a year, you don’t have to fret about spending year after year in college. Instead, you can start your career as a pharmacy technician much sooner than your fellow students who are pursuing four- and six-year degrees.
Lots of Interaction
If you’re a people person, the career of a pharmacy technician will be a good fit because it’s filled with opportunities to help others. Whether you’re behind the counter working the register, measuring out a patient’s medication, or greeting and building rapport with customers, a career in pharmacy tech can be both rewarding and satisfying as you interact and help people. Pharmacy technicians spend their days working as part of a healthcare team. In addition to interacting with your own team members, you’ll make calls to other healthcare professionals who can share and verify patient information. The goal is to make sure patients are receiving the best care possible.
Numerous Environments to Choose From
There are multiple environments in which pharmacy technicians can work. This means you’ll have several options to choose from, easily allowing you to pick one that complements your preferences. Hospitals, retail pharmacies, grocery stores, mail order pharmacies, and nursing homes are several common places to work as a pharmacy technician.
According to the BLS, as the role of a pharmacist continues to become more complex, pharmacy technicians are expected to take on a bigger role, as well. Already, pharmacy techs handle filling medications, speaking with insurance companies, providing patients with basic medication instructions, and more. Pay rates are likely to increase as the role of a pharmacy technician becomes more imperative to the overall operational process of a pharmacy.
Excellent Stepping-Stone Career
Working as a pharmacy technician can open doors to other professional avenues, making it a stepping-stone in your career path. With minimal training required and optimal opportunity for learning and gaining experience, it can serve as a solid foundation for numerous other healthcare careers. Did you know you don’t even have to be 18-years-old to work as a pharmacy technician in some states? If you’re wanting to pursue a career in any healthcare field, you should carefully consider becoming a pharmacy technician while in high school. Not only can you work on weekends, but if your school offers a co-op program, you can actually earn high school credits for working as a pharmacy tech. Some schools even allow you to leave after your first class and finish the rest of your school day working in a pharmacy. Make sure to talk with your high school counselor about different co-op opportunities.
Overview of Pharmacy Technician Educational Requirements
As we pointed out earlier, you don’t necessarily have to have a license to become a pharmacy tech; this only applies in certain states, though. A few of those states include:
- District of Columbia
- New York
If you’re wanting to work as a pharmacy tech in any of the ones listed above, all you have to do is apply according to the employer’s application process. Even if there are no licensing requirements, employers still tend to choose applicants with a license over those who don’t have it. Why? Because a license shows your dedication and passion for your career. It highlights the skills you have acquired that are specific to the duties of a pharmacy technician, such as handling medications, communicating with insurance companies, documenting pertinent patient data, etc.
Whether you earn a license or not, you are still going to receive in-house training as a pharmacy tech. A lead technician or pharmacist will provide this training, and it is imperative that you pay close attention as policies and practices will vary from one pharmacy to the next. As you become more proficient in your abilities to perform on-the-job tasks, you will receive less supervision. It usually takes about two to three weeks before you are allowed to work with no supervision if you have a license. However, at all times, there must be a pharmacist on-site while you are filling medications. If you don’t have a license, you can expect training to last anywhere from three to six months.
Larger pharmacies often have classroom training for you to partake in. This applies to mail order pharmacies, too. Upon completing your training, you can obtain certification as a pharmacy technician. If, however, you already have your license, you may not be required to go through such training. This means you’ll skip straight to being able to work as a pharmacy technician. It may even translate into earning a higher starting pay than what you would earn without a license.
Some states require you to have certification or license as a pharmacy technician. If you don’t, you won’t be able to find employment unless you go to a state that does not have this requirement. In states that have strict requirements, most will mandate that you take and pass the ExPCT, which is a standardized exam. The exam is known to be extremely extensive and difficult to pass if you don’t have any type of prior pharmaceutical technician education. Please note that you don’t have to go to school to take the exam, but earning your license through an accredited program will be of the utmost help.
According to the executive director of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, William Schimmel, "Employers place a considerable value on certification because it demonstrates your knowledge as a technician and your commitment to your role in the pharmacy. As we see things change in the profession and advanced roles for technicians open up, certification will open a number of new opportunities…If you have to move to a different state, you can take it with you to prove your knowledge."
The Benefits of Earning a Pharmacy Technician License
Whether you’ve been working as a pharmacy tech for years or you’re just now considering entering this career field, there are many reasons to become licensed. For those who have been working as a pharmacy tech for some time, it may seem there is no value of earning a license, but the opposite is actually true. Becoming licensed is crucial to staying current with the latest pharmaceutical practices. You’ll learn about the newest technologies being used in pharmacies. More importantly, you’ll learn how to use those technologies to provide better patient care.
Another reason to obtain your license as a pharmacy technician is because you’ll receive training from leading professionals in the field. The licensing programs are taught by reputable and knowledgeable pharmacists and pharmacy techs who have many years of experience in the field. Not only will you learn a vast amount of their knowledge, but they will also show you tips and tricks for optimizing patient care. More so, tips and tricks for doing your job in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
Going to school to earn a license as a pharmacy tech is an excellent way to sharpen your mathematical skills, which are essential to being good at your job. A large portion of your time is going to be spent calculating dosages and converting measurements. Without refined math skills, you’ll struggle in being able to perform your job well. As you earn your license, though, you’ll accumulate a valuable set of math skills by taking a pharmacy calculation class.
Earning your license also means you’ll learn how to use various software programs that are used to manage and process prescriptions. With such a large majority of today’s prescriptions being sent in an electronic format, also known as e-scripts, it is more important than ever before that you know how to obtain prior authorizations to fill those prescriptions. And with technology advancing and evolving at such a rapid pace, your familiarity with the latest systems and tools is crucial to your ability to be successful as a pharmacy tech.
During your studies, you will gain a strong comprehension of pharmaceuticals, including how medications interact with various parts of the body as well as their side effects. With your knowledge, you will become a vital sidekick to the pharmacist you work for. A license also opens the doors for advanced career opportunities. There may be promotions that become available that are only open to those with a license. Even if you have yet to obtain your license, let your pharmacist know you are enrolling in a program; this way he or she will know that when the next promotion becomes available, you are going to be a good candidate for the position.
Lastly, becoming a pharmacy tech with a license is a smart career move to make because it ensures you are staying compliant with your state’s requirements if it has any. Requirements tend to change on a regular basis, but a licensing program will keep you up to date on those changes. The program can also point you in the right direction in regards to ongoing educational opportunities. Once you have obtained your license, you may wish to continue your educational path and become an actual pharmacist or a pharmaceutical rep. No matter the career path you choose, though, having a license will be of the utmost value as you continue your education.
Enjoy superior job satisfaction as a pharmacy tech. Are you ready to take your career to the next level? If so, earn your pharmacy tech license today.