The U.S. Department of Labor reports that pharmacy technician jobs will grow at a 12% rate in the upcoming years. In comparison, the average job growth rate for all occupations is 5%. For prospective pharmacy techs, this means more opportunities and a higher earning potential. Does that sound good to you? If so, learn what it takes to become a pharmacy technician, and why it’s an excellent career for military spouses.
Pharmacy Technician Skills
A pharmacy technician’s job responsibilities include preparing medications, screening prescriptions, and maintaining records. It’s a challenging but rewarding job, and it requires candidates to have the following skills:
Attention to Detail
Caring for a patient’s health is one of the most critical responsibilities a pharmacy technician has. A "small" mistake, such as mislabeling a prescription, can have severe consequences. Attention to detail is essential to your success as a pharmacy tech. There is no room for error when others' health is at stake!
Effective Communication Skills
Pharmacy technicians are at the intersection between patients, doctors, and insurance companies. As one, you will educate patients on how their medications work, when to take them, and even how those meds interact with other drugs and supplements. You’ll also inform doctors’ and pharmacists’ decisions on dosages and prescriptions. To do so, you'll need to be a clear and concise speaker as well as an empathetic and attentive listener.
Organizational skills are beneficial in every industry. They include the ability to set goals, manage time, oversee inventories, and keep good records. Having organizational skills is essential to complete a pharmacy techs’ day-to-day responsibilities.
Life behind the counter gets hectic. Pharmacy technicians have to jump from one task to the next fast. Plus, between filling prescriptions, updating immunization records, and placing orders — they stand for most of the day! Stress management skills help pharmacy techs thrive on the job and off the clock.
Passion for Learning
The pharmaceutical and medical industries are always evolving. Becoming a good pharmacy technician is a long-term commitment to bettering your education and skill set. To advance your pharmacy tech career, stay up-to-date on industry technologies and new medications.
The federal government has strict laws on prescription medications, opioids, and narcotics. Such substances are addictive, which explains why they’re often misused and abused. As a pharmacy tech, you’re the last line of defense between controlled substances and their users. You are responsible for understanding and complying with federal laws and patient privacy.
Whether you work in research, retail, or in a hospital — part of your pharmacy tech job will be keeping accurate records. Digital record-keeping is the standard nowadays. Knowing your way around a computer and being a quick learner will help you master these job duties!
What Kind of Education Do Pharmacy Techs Need?
As mentioned above, to advance your pharmacy career, you must be a proactive learner. If you're getting started as a pharmacy technician, a bachelor's degree isn't necessary. But, most employers do require completion of a related educational program. An educational program provides a foundation for the skills you’ll learn on the job. Most employers will expect you to know certain basics from the start. Make sure the diploma or certificate program you select covers all or most of the following:
- A pharmacy technician’s duties and responsibilities
- Industry-related laws and regulations
- Commonly-used medical terms, abbreviations, and units
- How different drugs are classified and controlled
- Commonly prescribed medications, along with their brand and generic names
- How to assess, prepare, and fill a prescription
- Pharmaceutical calculations
- Aseptic processing, compounding, and repackaging of prescription drugs
A well-rounded course won’t only set you up for on-the-job success. A comprehensive Pharmacy Technician program will also prepare you for the ExCPT exam, which is required to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPT). Though being a CPT isn’t legally required in all states, it will make you more employable across the country, which brings us to our next point…
Why is Pharmacy Tech a Great Career for Military Spouses?
As a military spouse, you may struggle to find stability between out-of-state moves. Feeling like a part of the community helps you get comfortable in a new city. And finding a job you like is a great way of doing that, all while earning money! A career in pharmacy is a great job for military spouses because the need for techs spans the entire nation. That means you will find job opportunities no matter where your partner’s job takes you. Also, the customer-facing nature of the position allows you to build relationships with members of your community. Before you know it, your new house will feel like home. And if duty calls your family elsewhere, you’ll have no problem adjusting to your next pharmacy technician job in a new city. Last but not least, pharmacy technicians often have the flexibility to work part-time—which is a big advantage if you are a stay-at-home parent.
Are you ready to become a pharmacy technician? Check out online Pharmacy Technician programs that’ll help prepare you for your new job. Enroll today or reach out to an academic advisor for more information on prerequisites, coursework, and more.