Pharmacy Technician Education and Job Outlook
Are you seeking a healthcare career that allows you to serve patients, but doesn’t require hands-on patient care? Pursuing a pharmacy technician education could be a good fit for your interests. Pharmacy technicians help improve patients’ lives by assisting with their medication needs. Pharmacy technician training can prepare you for an entry-level position as a healthcare professional and help you develop the skills pharmacies need to meet the growing demand for their services.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that healthcare industry employment is expanding at a faster rate than any other sector.1 Much of this growth is attributed to an increase in the aging population, as senior citizens are more likely to have conditions requiring treatment and prescription medication. As a result, there is an ongoing need for qualified professionals who meet pharmacy technician requirements for relevant education and technical skills.
What Is a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy technicians work with licensed pharmacists, helping to prepare prescriptions by counting tablets and labeling bottles. They may also provide customer service, answer basic questions and provide assistance to customers.
Pharmacy technicians use precision and attention to detail to ensure safe and accurate dispensing of medications. They receive written prescription requests from patients or electronic prescriptions directly from physicians. After verifying a prescription’s accuracy, the pharmacy technician retrieves the medication and mixes, measures or counts the proper dosage, then place the contents in an appropriate container and affix a label. Upon completion, a pharmacist will check the technician’s work to make sure the prescription has been properly filled before the order is handed off to the customer. Pharmacy technicians may also be required to file insurance forms and update electronic records.
Pharmacy Technician Requirements and Training
Pharmacy technician positions typically require a minimum of a high school diploma; however, most employers give preference to candidates with formal pharmacy technician training. Certification from an industry organization – such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) – may also be among the pharmacy technician requirements for many hiring companies. Applicants for pharmacy technician jobs are expected to demonstrate proficiency in such skills as customer service, communication, basic math and attention to detail. Filling prescriptions correctly is critical, as customers’ health and safety depends on it; which is why precision is a matter of the utmost importance for pharmacy technicians.
Enrolling in a pharmacy technician education program can be the first step toward meeting pharmacy technician requirements and attaining an entry-level position in this field.
Pharmacy Technician Job Outlook
Expanding employment in the healthcare industry as a whole is echoed by the current pharmacy technician job outlook. The BLS projects 22% growth in overall healthcare employment between 2008 and 2018,1 with a 31% increase in pharmacy technician jobs over the same period.2 The agency attributes this growth to several factors, including a growing middle-age and elderly population, advancements in the pharmaceutical industry and expanded access to prescription drug coverage. According to BLS data, three-quarters of pharmacy technicians work in a retail setting, while another 16% are employed by hospitals.2
Pharmacy Technician Education and Career Services
Relevant healthcare training can help you attain your career goals, giving you the opportunity to acquire the technical knowledge and skills you’ll need to transition into or advance in the healthcare field. Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) offers two pharmacy technician training options: a diploma program and an associate degree.
The Pharmacy Technician diploma program can be completed in as few as 10 months, and is available online as well as on UMA’s Tampa, Florida, campus. The program is designed to help students learn how to:
- Maintain written or electronic patient medication records
- Prepare medications that are not commercially available
- Count or pour medications into proper dispensing containers
- Stock and inventory prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
- Establish and maintain patient profiles
- Prepare insurance claim forms
For those who wish to further augment their skills and qualifications, UMA offers an Associate of Science degree in Health Sciences with a Pharmacy Technician concentration, which expands on the diploma curriculum with additional courses and electives. The Health Sciences/Pharmacy Technician degree program also features practical experience through either an onsite externship or an online practicum, providing hands-on learning opportunities consistent with the core curriculum. Students can earn their degree in as few as 18 months.
Both programs prepare students to sit for the national pharmacy technician certification exam offered by the PTCB. Obtaining certification may enhance career opportunities.
Whether you choose the diploma or degree program, and whether you opt to attend school on campus or online, all courses are led by instructors with experience in the healthcare field. You’ll receive a quality education and personalized attention from faculty and staff who are dedicated to supporting your potential and preparing you for career opportunities as a professional pharmacy technician.
Enhance Your Credentials and Prepare for a Pharmacy Technician Career
If you feel that a pharmacy technician career would be a good fit for your talents and interests, earning your Pharmacy Technician diploma or associate degree from UMA can bring you one step closer to achieving your career goals. Both programs feature an onsite externship or online practicum designed to help you develop relevant technical skills and knowledge. The onsite externship offers a stimulating mix of courses with opportunities to learn practical applications in classroom, laboratory and hands-on pharmacy settings. As a UMA graduate, you’ll be prepared to take advantage of entry-level pharmacy technician opportunities that can lead to a rewarding career in the healthcare industry.
1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Career Guide to Industries, 2010-2011. “Healthcare.” <http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs035.htm>
2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition. “Pharmacy Technicians and Aides.” <http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos325.htm#outlook><http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos325.htm#emply>
For information on student graduation rates, retention and placement rates, and student financial obligations visit www.ultimatemedical.edu/consumerinfo