Opportunities in Pharmacy Technician Careers

There are many different pharmacy technician careers available to you. Each option is outlined below.

by Michelle Goeking (BM, CPhT)

The Retail Setting

Most of us are accustomed to seeing pharmacy technicians at community or retail pharmacies. In these settings, room for growth and advancement is possible, dependent on the hierarchy system used by the employer.

Though many states require a pharmacy technician to prove competency by becoming a nationally certified pharmacy technician, many have begun their experience in the pharmacy as a clerk.

Opportunities with Certification
Once certified, more responsibilities (and higher earning potential) can be performed by the technician.

Beyond the usual duties that a technician may perform, some technicians may advance into specialty fields, including inventory specialist or medical equipment specialist.

Often, chain drug stores have lead pharmacy technician career positions in which one could advance, where one could provide leadership, create work schedules, or mentor new hires.

Some retail stores provide specialized compounding services or have the facilities to provide IVs for home infusion or durable medical equipment, such as oxygen, to patients living at home with special needs.

The Institutional Setting
In an institutional pharmacy such as a hospital or nursing home, pharm techs learn different skills to suit the needs of the many patients receiving care there. Pharmacy technicians learn aseptic and clean room techniques to make IVs.

Also, one can receive additional training to compound chemotherapy medications. Depending on the hierarchy system of the institution, one could advance to a different level to provide inventory management, design work schedules for the technicians, or provide other services for the pharmacy department.

Nuclear Pharmacy
Another option in pharmacy technician careers is in nuclear pharmacy. In a nuclear pharmacy, the pharmacy technician would be trained and certified in handling and preparing radioactive medications.

Mail order pharmacy is becoming more common with insurance companies, so pharmacy technicians are needed to keep up with the demand.

Advanced Pharmacy Technician Careers

Though advanced degrees are uncommon among pharmacy technicians, the pharm tech field is often a stepping stone for those interested in becoming a pharmacist.

To become a pharmacist, one must complete at least 2 years of prerequisite college coursework, and then 4 years at an accredited college of pharmacy.

Other places that may employ pharmacy technicians include pharmaceutical companies. If a technician has a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or science, one could become a pharmaceutical representative for a drug company.

Drug representatives are thoroughly educated about medications that the company is marketing and they, in turn, educate physicians, pharmacy personnel, and other health care representatives about the company’s products.

Other pharmacy technicians may find themselves interested in the technology found in pharmacy and be employed by those companies to install, maintain, or troubleshoot this equipment for pharmacies across the country.

Career growth and advancement for pharmacy technicians are available to those technicians who excel and are motivated to achieve higher goals. Many pharmacy technicians feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction by providing a valuable customer service as a technician. However, there are many other paths for those who seek greater challenges or higher education.

Michelle Goeking (BM, CPhT) has been a practicing pharmacy technician for 16 years in both community and hospital settings. She has 5 years of experience creating and directing a pharmacy technician education program at a community college, as well as writing PTCE test items for various publishers. Michelle is currently enrolled in a doctor of pharmacy program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a practicing pharmacy intern.

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