Best Places to Work as a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians and pharmacists both experienced quicker job growth than the national average. The main drivers of growth are the need for people to fill prescriptions and offer patient care, the aging population, and the rising demand for prescription drugs.
As a pharmacy technician, you will work alongside pharmacists to ensure patients receive their prescribed medications. Your daily tasks may include preparing and dispensing medications, operating dispensing equipment, and interacting with patients.
Additionally, you will have a lot of freedom where you choose to work, the level of patient interaction you prefer, and whether you want to work with a specific patient population or a variety of patients.
Continue reading to learn about the different healthcare settings for pharmacy technicians and which is the best fit for you. First, let's start with an overview of the daily tasks, roles, and responsiblities of pharmacy technicians.
What is a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy technicians are vital healthcare team members. The help pharmacists prepare and dispense medication and ensure that patients receive the proper medication at the appropriate time in the proper dosage.
Additionally, pharmacy technicians keep accurate records, which are crucial for regulatory compliance and patient safety. They also manage the pharmacy's customer service department, which is important for maintaining the loyalty and contentment of customers. In general, pharmacy technicians are essential to the healthcare system and help ensure patients get the required care.
Where do Pharmacy Techs Work?
The top places to work as a pharmacy technician can vary depending on location, pay, and job satisfaction. However, some popular employers for pharmacy technicians include the following.
One of the most popular work settings for pharmacy technicians is retail pharmacies. These pharmacies are typically found in drugstores, grocery stores, and big-box retailers. Pharmacy technicians who work in retail pharmacies help customers fill their prescriptions, handle inventory, and operate dispensing equipment. Retail pharmacies offer flexible hours, which can be ideal for students or those who need to balance work with other responsibilities.
Hospital pharmacies provide opportunities for pharmacy technicians to work in fast-paced environments alongside a team of pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. Pharmacy technicians in hospital pharmacies prepare medications for patients, assist in the medication delivery process, and manage inventory. Hospital pharmacies may offer more structured work environments, and many provide opportunities for career advancement.
Long-Term Care Facilities
Long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, offer pharmacy technicians the opportunity to work closely with patients and healthcare professionals in a specialized setting. Pharmacy technicians in long-term care facilities help manage medication regimens, maintain accurate records, and ensure patient safety. These facilities offer stable work environments with predictable schedules.
Compounding pharmacies specialize in creating customized medications for patients who have unique medical needs. Pharmacy technicians in compounding pharmacies assist pharmacists in preparing medications and maintaining strict quality control measures. These pharmacies offer unique opportunities for pharmacy technicians to use their knowledge and skills to help patients with complex medical needs.
Specialty pharmacies focus on medication that treats certain disorders or complicated diseases. Because they need to be delivered by medical specialists, the drugs are frequently expensive and high-touch.
Pharmacy technicians in specialty pharmacies assist pharmacists in preparing and dispensing these specialized medications, and may also help manage inventory and communicate with insurance providers. Specialty pharmacies offer unique opportunities for pharmacy technicians to work with cutting-edge medical treatments and technologies
Mail order pharmacies, which fill and ship prescriptions directly to patients, are becoming increasingly popular as people choose to order their medications online. Pharmacy technicians in mail-order pharmacies process orders, fill prescriptions, and manage inventory. These pharmacies offer a work-from-home option for pharmacy technicians, which can be appealing for those who prefer a flexible work schedule.
Pharmacy technicians may work for government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the Indian Health Service (IHS). These agencies offer opportunities to work in regulatory or researc roles, assisting in drug development and ensuring that medications meet safety standards.
Independent pharmacies offer a personalized approach to healthcare and often have strong ties to the local community. Pharmacy technicians in independent pharmacies have a wide range of responsibilities, from filling prescriptions to managing inventory to interacting with patients. These pharmacies offer a friendly and supportive work environment and may offer opportunities for career advancement.
Some pharmacy technicians may work for pharmaceutical companies, where they can be involved in the research, development, or manufacturing of medications. Working for a pharmaceutical company can be a great opportunity for pharmacy technicians who are interested in the research and development of new drugs, quality control, manufacturing, or sales and marketing. These roles can be challenging and rewarding, and often offer competitive salaries and benefits.
Are You a Good Candidate to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy technicians are a vital part of the healthcare team and should be passionate about healthcare and have the skills and qualifications required for the job.
Here are some essential pharmacy technician skills and qualities:
- Interest in healthcare
- Strong attention to detail
- Good organizational skills
- Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
- Good communication skills
- Have a basic understanding of medical terminology and pharmacology
- Be comfortable working with numbers and technology
Average Pharmacy Technician Salary
The salary for a pharmacy technician can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and level of education. On average, as of 2021, the median annual salary for pharmacy technicians in the United States is around $40,000 per year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top 10 percent of pharmacy technicians earn more than $56,000 annually, while the bottom 10 percent earn less than $27,000 annually.
Salary also varies by location, with pharmacy technicians earning more than others in some states. For example, in 2021, pharmacy technicians in California, Alaska, and Washington earned the highest median annual salaries, while those in Mississippi, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico earned the lowest.
It is also important to note that many employers offer health insurance, paid time off, retirement plans, and other benefits that are factored into the total compensation package.
Overall, the salary for a pharmacy technician can vary depending on various factors, but on average, it is around $40,000 per year.
Do You Need to be Certified to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
In most states, pharmacy technicians are required to be certified or registered. However, some states have no certification or registration requirements. It is essential to check the specific requirements in your state, as they can change over time.
The most common way to become a certified pharmacy technician is to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) or the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT). The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) offers both of these exams. Most states recognize them as the primary certification for pharmacy technicians.
In addition to certification, many states also require pharmacy technicians to complete a formal training program and/ or have a certain amount of work experience. Some states require pharmacy technicians to pass a criminal background check and maintain continuing education credits.
It is also important to note that even if your state does not require certification, certification can make you more marketable and increase your chances of being hired or advancing in your career.
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