When you walk up to the pharmacy counter, you expect that the person helping you is a pharmacist. But the reality is, most times it’s a pharmacy technician!
One thing we know about pharmacists is that they went to school for six years. For most people, that may be an impossible achievement due to time and money, but just because you decided not to become a Pharmacist doesn’t mean you have to give up your dream of working in a pharmacy and helping people.
Did you know there are colleges out there that can help you realize that dream – and they don’t require a half a decade or more of schooling? Schools like UMA offer online pharmacy technician training that allows you to get your degree in as little as 18 months. Couple that with clinical time behind the pharmacy counter and you will be ready to go the day you get your degree.
The Difference Between Pharmacist and Tech
There is only a fine line of difference between pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and that is the licensing, and schooling, required. Pharmacy technicians must work under a licensed pharmacist. They may check all of your work before it is given out to ensure that it is correct, as they are held accountable for any mistakes in the pharmacy under their watch.
Obviously, the pharmacist working has to hold an active license, but the same is true for the pharmacy technician as well. They must have an active license and be registered with the GPhC. Even though the pharmacist is ultimately in charge of everything that happens on their shift, the tech is also held accountable.
What Can a Pharmacy Tech Do
The pharmacy technician can do almost everything that a pharmacist does. Day-to-day tasks include:
- Supplying both over the counter and prescription medication to patients
- Count and bottle medications
- Discuss information with patients and providers on side effects and how the medication is to be taken
- Manage the supply areas or dispensaries
- Supervise other members of the pharmacy staff
- Maintain records of orders
In large pharmacies, pharmacy technicians may even serve as management to their peers. Something the pharmacist doesn’t have the time to do each shift. Leaders in the field also train and educate new and future pharmacy technicians.
Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work
It is common to see pharmacy technicians working at your local drug stores or behind retain pharmacy counters. These are usually locations that have a high volume of prescriptions to fill and only one licensed pharmacist per shift. There is no way the pharmacist could get through that amount of prescriptions without skilled techs by their side. In larger pharmacies there will be multiple techs working each shift. Smaller pharmacies can get by with only one or two per shift, but the pharmacist is required to do more in that kind of a setting.
But that isn’t the only place you can find pharmacy technicians. Anywhere there is a pharmacy, there is a need for techs. They have positions in hospitals, prisons, and even veterinary positions. Many pharmacy technicians even branch out and become the most skilled pharmacy sales representatives because they understand the product so well.
Healthcare is an in-demand job and always will be. There are not as many skilled healthcare practitioners as there once were, so jobs are abundant. That will likely not change in the future. This is particularly important to those who are just beginning their career in the healthcare field. It’s the equivalent of saying it’s a buyer’s market in real estate. It is a job seeker’s market in healthcare.
It used to be that if you wanted a hospital job, you either had to already have a foot in the door, or you had to work your way up. That doesn’t hold true anymore. There are many hospital jobs available and as the hospital systems expand, so does the need for pharmacy technicians.
How to Become a Pharmacy Tech
If you think that being a pharmacy technician sounds like your ideal career path, the first thing you want to do is to find a school that supports your dream and your budget. Many states don’t require much more than a high school diploma, but even with extensive on the job training, you will still have to pass credentialing and licensing exams that will be much easier if you had schooling.
Once you do that, finding a job should be pretty easy, as the field is growing quickly and the need for pharmacy technicians is always out there. While you may not land your dream job immediately, you will certainly find one you enjoy quickly.
For students who love science and math but don’t have the time or money to become a pharmacist, and don’t like the hands-on necessity of nursing, pharmacy technician is the perfect fit.