13 Pros and Cons of Being a Pharmacy Technician
Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Pharmacy technicians are the behind-the-scenes people who work in pharmacies to help pharmacists do their job. A pharmacy technician has a lot of responsibilities that most people do not think about or even realize. Still, as a pharmacy technician, you will also get to be part of one of the fastest-growing industries in healthcare today. Every profession has it's good and bad. Do you know what are the pros and cons of being a pharmacy technician? There are many pros and cons to working as a pharmacy technician. Below you will find the top 13 pros and cons of being a pharmacy technician. It is important to weigh both sides when considering whether this career path would be right for you.
What is a Pharmacy Technician?
A pharmacy technician is a person who works with a pharmacist to ensure that all the necessary steps have been taken to fill a prescription from start to finish. The responsibilities of a pharmacy technician also include working directly with patients and doctors to understand their prescription requirements and medical history. Other duties of a pharmacy technician include supplying medications to patients, assembling medications for prescriptions, provide information to patients regarding their medications, and manage areas of medication supply such as dispensaries. You can also find pharmacy technicians checking medication interactions for patients and supervising other pharmacy staff. The majority of pharmacy technicians work in a retail, hospital, or community setting. Some technicians choose to work for specific companies, such as the pharmaceutical departments of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, or insurance companies.
TOP CONS OF BEING A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN
(The following are the top 13 disadvantages of being a Pharmacy Technician.)
1. You will have to meet the specific education requirements to be a pharmacy technician.
In order to pursue the career of being a pharmacy technician, you will need to meet specific educational requirements. There are two main types of education you can pursue to meet these specific requirements of becoming a pharmacy technician. The first option is that you can choose to pursue a diploma program right out of high school. These programs can typically be completed in as little as 12 months. The second option for becoming a pharmacy technician is by going through your local community college or university. Here you will be able to pursue an associate’s degree and earn an Associate of Science (AS) or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Pharmacy Technician. This degree typically takes about two years to complete. You will need to determine which education path fits you best when you are weighing the pros and cons of being a pharmacy technician.
2. You’re training to become a pharmacy technician will not be free.
The education that is required to be a pharmacy technician will not be free. Depending on how you choose to obtain your degree, it can be reasonably expensive. If you plan on earning a diploma as a pharmacy technician, you can expect to pay around $500 to $2,000. If you plan on earning the associate's degree, it will cost closer to $5,000 to $25,000. You must also remember that there may be additional fees for registration and tests while completing this education. So, let's just hope you have found the secret to making money grow on trees.
3. You may need to earn a license to practice.
Some states will require that you hold a license as a pharmacy technician in order to practice. One of the top disadvantages of being a pharmacy technician is that this license is given only after you pass an exam known as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE
). This exam is administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB
). The PTCE covers various topics, including state and federal laws, ethical practices, safety regulations, communication methods, customer service skills, medication storage guidelines, and how to properly dispense prescription medications. You will also be expected to be familiar with computer applications that are used in pharmacies. So, if you cannot pass this exam, you will not get your license, and you will be unable to work.
4. You may need to earn certification.
A pharmacy technician is required to be certified
in 24 states in the United States. There are two different certifications available, one certification will require that you hold an associate's degree and the other will require you to hold a high school diploma. The National Certification is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). This certification will require that you either hold an associate's degree or at least one year of experience working as a pharmacy technician. The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) will require you to hold a diploma. Even though your state may not require you to be certified, many employers still recommend it. Certified technicians are usually more qualified for their position. A certified pharmacy technician is able to understand the importance of safety regarding pharmaceuticals. So, if you did not think being certified was a bid deal, well think again.
5. You will need to keep recertifying.
As a pharmacy technician, just passing your certification will not be enough to maintain your career. One of the biggest disadvantages of being a pharmacy technician is that you will be required to recertify every two years. To recertify
, you will need to complete a certain amount of training units under a certified pharmacist. Also, you will need to complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years. You must pay a fee every time you recertify; it will cost $35 ($50 if you wait longer than six months to recertify).
6. You may need to meet continuing education requirements.
In order to be a pharmacy technician, you will need to complete continuing education courses. These courses are designed to teach new developments in the field of pharmacy. It will also help to keep your pharmacy technician license and or certification current. If you do not complete your required continuing education requirements, you will lose your license or certification and may not be able to work.
7. You may have to work long hours.
One of the cons of being a pharmacy technician is that you may need to work long hours. Your job is necessary to ensure that pharmacies can remain open and serve their patients. Sometimes it can be challenging to coordinate family activities and events because of your shift schedule. Additionally, you will just have to come to the realization that you will miss out on events and family time. Because of this, you should carefully consider if working as a pharmacy tech is the right career choice for your personal needs.
8. You may have to work weekends and holidays.
One of the most significant disadvantages of being a pharmacy technician is that you will probably need to work on the weekends. This is because there are a lot of pharmacies open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a pharmacy technician, you may consider this a disadvantage because you will not have much time or energy for family events such as weddings. Another disadvantage of being a pharmacy technician is you will also have to work some holidays, especially if the pharmacies are open for 24 hours. This will be a disadvantage because it limits the time you can spend with friends and family.
9. You may have to work nights.
Another one of the disadvantages of being a pharmacy technician is that you may need to work nights. For some people, this can be tough to deal with. Working nights means that you will be working when everyone else is off work and having fun or sleeping. You may miss out on family events, a lot of sleep, and a social life.
10. Your job can be demanding.
You will find that if you pursue a career as a pharmacy technician, your job may be demanding. In general, a pharmacy technician has a lot of responsibilities that will need to be completed. A pharmacy technician will be expected to do many things throughout the day, depending on their particular store or company. These responsibilities include but are not limited to gathering information, counting, and dispensing medications, making sure medications are appropriately labeled, putting medications in the proper containers, and assisting customers with questions. So, if you cannot keep up with these demands, then this is not the career for you.
11. You will have a job that is very repetitive in your duties.
As a pharmacy tech, your job will be very repetitive. Your day will be rather dull for you day after day. You may become bored due to the lack of variation in your day. Unfortunately, this is just part of the job. One of the points you need to consider when weighing the pros and cons of being a pharmacy technician is if being utterly bored during the day is something you will be able to tolerate. If not, then you may consider leaving the career. If you do leave the career, then after spending all your time and money on fostering a career as a pharmacy technician, now you will have nothing to show for.
12. You may have to interact with some not so pleasant customers
As a pharmacy technician, you may have to deal with some unpleasant customers. You may find that some people that you will encounter will be rude and may even be mean to you. Encountering unpleasant people day in and day out may make you question why you decided to become a pharmacy technician in the first place. Constant dealing with rude and mean people may make you want to leave the career you have worked so hard for.
13. Your job as a pharmacy technician can be stressful
As a pharmacy technician, your job may be stressful
. Pressure is something that would come into play in your position. One of which is that you will be expected to work quickly due to patient needs, and there is always a time crunch. If you make one mistake, it can mean the difference between life and death. You may also have to work with very uncooperative patients and doctors.
TOP PROS OF BEING A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN
(The following are the top 13 advantages of being a Pharmacy Technician.)
1. You will have a short training period.
As a pharmacy technician, your schooling will be minimum. This is great because it means you will be able to get out there and start earning money right away. If you choose to pursue the path of earning a diploma, you will be able to start your career in as little as 12 months. If you decide to earn an associate's degree, you will finish your education in two years. Once again, you will need to determine which education path fits you best when you are weighing the pros and cons of being a pharmacy technician.
2. You can complete your training online.
One of the perks of pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician is that you will be able to earn either your diploma or associate's degree online
. Getting your pharmacy technician training online is convenient and practical because many working adults already have busy schedules. You can get practical work experience without sacrificing valuable time away from home or family and your responsibilities.
3. You can earn a steady paycheck.
Being a pharmacy technician means that you will be earning a steady income
. As a pharmacy technician, you can expect to make between $23,000 and $37,000 per year. The median salary for pharmacy technicians is around $30,100 per year. Having a steady income means that you can plan for your future. You can plan what you are going to do with your money. One of the advantages of being a pharmacy technician is that you will always know that you will be able to pay your bills every month and maybe even put some money away for savings, retirement, or college for your children.
4. You will be in a career with a great job outlook.
The job outlook for a pharmacy technician is expected to have a positive outlook into 2030. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate at which jobs for this occupation are being added to the market by the year 2030 is expected to be at a rate of about 4%
. Although this rate is slower than the average job growth rate of all occupations, it just shows that many people are happy with their career choice of a pharmacy technician and are not leaving the profession. So, this says that you have a pretty good chance of being content in your job if you choose this career.
5. You will work in a clean environment.
When you have a career in the healthcare field, it is essential to realize that some jobs will be a lot more "dirty," so to speak, than others. Pharmacy technicians may have to do many different things, still, one thing they will not have to do is work in a dirty environment. One of the top pros of being a pharmacy technician is that you can rest assured that you are working in a clean environment. For example, a pharmacy technician might have to fill out documentation, count pills, and label bottles for patients - but they will not have to deal with changing dirty bandages or wrapping wounds.
6. You could have a flexible work schedule.
As a pharmacy technician, you may be able to have a flexible schedule. Having such a flexible work schedule will allow you to be able to plan all of your life events around your work schedule. Flexibility will also allow you to spend quality time with family and friends. You can really make your schedule work to your advantage.
7. You can choose to work in different environments.
As a pharmacy technician, you can work in various environments. Some of the places that you could possibly work are hospitals, doctors' offices, pharmacies, and grocery stores, to name a few. Each has its own unique environment for you to work in. If you find that one environment doesn't suit you, you can always work in another. One of the biggest advantages of being a pharmacy technician is that you will be able to find what environment best suits your personality and skills.
8. You will have job stability.
As a pharmacy technician, you can rest assured you will have stability in your career. People will always need their prescriptions filled, and pharmacies do not run themselves! Pharmacies are looking for qualified pharmacy technicians to help them fill orders quickly and accurately. And with the rise of e-commerce, you can be sure that pharmacy technicians will always be needed.
9. You may have the option to work full-time or part-time.
Another one of the pros of being a pharmacy technician is that you will have the luxury of deciding if you want to work full-time or part-time. Obviously, a full-time position has more benefits and the potential to make you money. Still, if taking a little less in pay is better for your situation, then a part-time position might be for you. I mean, having a job that can accommodate your life by providing full-time or part-time work is pretty great.
10. Your certification is recognized around the country
The great thing about a pharmacy technician is that once you have earned certification
, your certification is recognized in the entire United States. You can also use certifications earned in one state when applying for a job in another state. This is more convenient for you when you are looking for a job or if you decide you want to relocate.
11. You have the potential for career advancement
There are many different career paths that pharmacy technicians can take to advance their careers. Career advancement in the world of pharmacy technicians can have you exploring jobs such as pharmacy manager, pharmacy department manager, or pharmacy sales representative, to name a few. This career advancement may lead to an increase in your salary.
12. You can easily find a job
One of the advantages of being a pharmacy technician is that you will easily be able to find a job
. There are many jobs out there for you to choose from. There is also the option to work remotely from home if that fits your life better. As a pharmacy technician, you will not have to be concerned that there will not be any jobs available.
13. You will get to help people
As a pharmacy technician, you will be helping people. You will assist the pharmacist in providing care to patients who are suffering from several different kinds of conditions. You will help them by making sure that the correct medications are dispensed, checking that there are no drug interactions between multiple medications, and giving instructions on how to take the medication. Helping people will definitely make you feel good about yourself.
The Bottom Line
So, what are the pros and cons of being a pharmacy technician? As you have probably figured out by now from the information in this article, there are a lot of pros and cons to being a pharmacy technician. The career of a pharmacy technician is a growing and rewarding industry to get into. With that said, it is not without its drawbacks. To help you make an informed decision about this career path, the top 13 pros and cons of being a pharmacy technician that I presented to you, will help you decide if this is the right career path for you. Good luck on your journey!
Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.