Pharmacy technicians have quite a few options for work environments including military bases, rest homes, and hospitals. However, the tried and true tradition of working in a pharmacy is still a staple career choice for many people. Stand-alone pharmacies may not be as prevalent as they were in the good old days, likely due to the influx of grocery stores with pharmacies and online pharmacies, which brings a touch of nostalgia to this classic career.

Job Outlook for Pharmacy Technicians

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has good news for individuals interested in pursuing this career. According to recent reports, the average salary of a pharmacy technician is $28,400 or $13.65 per hour. As of 2010, there were 334,400 pharmacy technicians and the field is expected to grow 32% in the next ten years, which is well above average. Choosing a field with extensive job growth is a smart move that can help ensure job security and ease the job hunting process.

Work Environment for Pharmacy Technicians

Most pharmacy technicians work full-time, but part-time work may also be available. The day-to-day life of a technician in a pharmacy depends on the employer and on state laws. However, this career involves working closely with a pharmacist to prepare and dispense medications to patients. Pharmacy technicians also double as customer service representatives. They answer phones, emails, and receive prescriptions from physicians. Some of the job duties might include investigating and tracking down additional information from patients or doctors. One of the most important tasks is conducting the final check of a label before handing medication over to a patient.

Education for Pharmacy Technicians According to the BLS, a high school diploma is required to be a pharmacy technician. This may be the general rule of thumb, but different employers have different requirements and preferences.

In a field that is on the verge of booming, having an edge over the competition is a good idea. Holding a degree in a related field or certification as a pharmacy technician can help a professional thrive. Related degrees might include Chemistry, Science, or even Communication. Another option is pursuing a doctorate in pharmacy (PharmD); working as a pharmacy technician can help a person decide if this is truly the right career path for them.

Personality Traits of Pharmacy Technicians

Some people think that to be a great pharmacy technician a person needs to be methodical, detail oriented, and have a strong grasp of how different chemicals and drugs interact. Of course these traits are critical, but there is a lot more to being a pharmacy technician. Pharmacy technicians serve customers and must be open, friendly, professional, empathetic, and compassionate. Remember that some customers may not feel well, or are even frustrated and angry. Every customer’s situation is different but considering that pharmacy technicians are in charge of working with patients who may need medication for serious issues, a generous dose of understanding is critical. These professionals must be comfortable working with different personality types and must be able to connect with customers.

Traditional Pharmacy vs. Other Options

Since pharmacy technicians now have a variety of work environment options, it can be difficult to choose a specialty. Some pharmacy technicians prefer to work in environments, such as nursing homes, where they can get to know patients intimately. Others prefer the excitement and commitment of serving their country overseas at a military base. However, for those who are interested in a traditional setting where the business is half dispensing medication and half customer service, this is ideal. Those with a background in retail or who like a constant change of pace with different customers can thrive here.