Pharmacists may get the glory, but pharmacy technicians do the real work: preparing prescription medications (counting pills), speaking with customers, taking prescription orders, stocking shelves, and doing administrative work. Some work in mail order pharmacies, which reduces the customer service aspect. If you liked measuring things out in high school chemistry, or even if you’ve always been good at baking which also requires accurate weights and measures, this might be the career for you. What they don’t do is answer questions about prescriptions, drug information or health matters; that is the pharmacist’s job. The work is simple, the pay rate is good, and the hours are regular.
Hourly wages for pharmacy technicians average around $13.32, although the highest 10% earn over $19 per hour. Certified technicians earn more than non-certified technicians. The increasing numbers of middle-aged people who use more prescription drugs than other age groups ensures that this career will be in demand for a while, so job security is another plus for this career. Unfortunately, since the job is so simple, opportunities for advancement are few unless you want to go into managerial or supervisory roles.
There are no formal training requirements for pharmacy technicians, but job seekers will find that having formal training, certification and experience will be to their advantages. Most pharmacy technicians receive on the job training from between 3-12 months, but for those who want more education to boost their resumes, community colleges, vocational schools and the military offer programs from 6-12 months long. Classes include medical and pharmaceutical terminology, medical technology, pharmaceutical calculations, recordkeeping, pharmacy law and ethics. Technicians also have to learn the names of each drug and what each drug does, along with dosages. Because technicians are often required to do office work as well, taking courses in Excel might also be useful.