To become a pharmacy technician, you generally must have finished high school or hold an equivalent credential. Pharmacy technicians often are learning the profession via on-the-job training, but there are also several post-secondary programs in pharmacy technology. The majority of states are regulating pharmacy technicians, a process that requires students to completing an training or education program, or take and pass an exam. To find out if this career path is you ticket, take a free career aptitude test.
Pharmacy technology programs cover several subject fields, for example record-keeping, pharmacy-arithmetic, pharmacy ethics & law, and the best ways to dispensing medication. Technicians also are trained all aspects of medication doses, drug names, and how to use them. Most educational programs include clinical hands-on experience opportunities.
This is what a New York Times article has to say about the relationship between pharmacists and pharmacy technicians: Behind every good pharmacist, there’s a great technician.
If you are reading this post then you’re probably interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, either as a long-term or short-term goal. You’re probably also aware that pharmacy technician has been dubbed a recession-proof career by the media. Where many are struggling to find low wage jobs, pharmacy technicians make better than minimum wage and have stable paychecks, since people will use prescription medications recession or no recession. However, my intent with this post is not to extol the economic advantages of becoming a pharmacy technician. As the above quote suggests, technicians are the very arms and legs of a pharmacy operation.
Getting hired as a pharmacy technician is an excellent opportunity to get a foot in the pharmacy world. When I was hired by Walgreens pharmacy I knew it was another step towards realizing my long term goal of becoming a pharmacist. If you have any interest in becoming a pharmacy technician then you should absolutely consider the path technician-ship opens towards becoming a full-fledged pharmacist.
Prior to gaining admission to pharmacy school, I had been working as a technician for three years. I was hired while working towards a biology degree in college and I was paid more than any campus job, which was a perk. What was immediately apparent to me was that I would be learning transferable skills: cashiering/point-of-sale skills, inventory management (shelving and ordering medications) and processing incoming and outgoing prescriptions (computer skills).
These tasks, along with the responsibility of learning brand and generic drug names, can make for an overwhelming first few weeks in the pharmacy, but they ultimately serve as a training ground for any would-be pharmacists. In fact, learning about the most commonly prescribed drugs (their names, what they are used for, how they are dosed) is basically what you learn in pharmacy school. As a pharmacy technician, you learn similar information (presented more simply) and you get paid to learn it and put that knowledge to use.
One of the biggest opportunities while working as a pharmacy technician is learning to communicate medical information with the public (something you would be doing daily as a pharmacist). Every day I worked as a tech I encountered countless people with whom I had to converse. This helped me improve my public speaking, helped solidify my knowledge of common medications, and continues to prepare me for counseling when I become a pharmacy intern. Naturally, all of these skills also make you a more confident and competent applicant when it’s time to apply to pharmacy schools.
I know that I’m advocating using a pharmacy technician position as a stepping stone to becoming a pharmacist, but don’t misunderstand me. I’m not reducing a technician career to anything more than a time-filler for when you’re in college. I’ve worked with dedicated techs with years of experience under their belts who were more capable than the pharmacists we worked with. Pharmacists will always need pharmacy technicians, but if you’re interested in deepening your knowledge of medications while also expanding your educational and career opportunities in the pharmacy field then you should apply to be a pharmacy technician now.
You can very well take our free career quiz to discover if becoming a pharmacy technician will suit you.