The healthcare industry is booming with fresh career opportunities that don’t require a doctorate (or even a degree!). In fact, there are an estimated 2.8 million new jobs expected in healthcare over the next few years, and more than 70,000 will be for pharmacy technicians. The best news? You can get trained and start working as a pharmacy technician in just a few months. Here are 5 tips on how to begin a career as a pharmacy technician.
1. Get trained
A quality program is essential to starting your career since many states require pharmacy technicians to pass an exam and/or complete formal training. Formal training covers the fundamentals of pharmacology and working in a pharmacy as well as pharmacy law, record keeping, methods of dispensing medications, and more.
Getting a quality education has never been easier thanks to flexible, online pharmacy technician training programs. Be sure the program you choose is reputable and includes everything you need to start your career. For instance, the Pharmacy Technician program at Career Step can be completed at your own pace and in as little as 3 months and is approved by a number of state boards of pharmacy, prepares students for the PTCB Exam, and includes a certification exam voucher for graduates. It also offers hands-on experience through an externship with a local national or independent pharmacy.
2. Internships and externships
An internship or externship at a local pharmacy provides valuable experience essential for entering the workforce as a pharmacy technician. Fortunately, career-focused schools often include an externship with the career training.
Maisha Martin, a certified pharmacy technician (CPhT) and single mother of 2, found her externship essential to her education and employability. She reports, “Career Step enabled me to gain both book knowledge and, most importantly, experience through the externship program, all of which gave me everything I needed to successfully pass the PTCB Exam and obtain my national certification. The externship played such a large role in my success because I learned so much over the 180 hours and I was able to gain hands-on experience and network with the pharmacists there.”
3. Consider all work opportunities
Pharmacy technicians are needed throughout the healthcare industry. Look for work opportunities outside traditional store-front pharmacies and drugstores. Other options include state, local, and private hospitals, grocery stores, and clinics. Even outpatient centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, mail-order pharmacies, telepharmacies, and nuclear pharmacies have great jobs waiting for qualified pharmacy technicians. Remember Maisha Martin? She was hired at a pharmaceutical call center where she answers patients’ questions about their medications.
4. Use job portals
Even though there are many job opportunities for pharmacy technicians, it is a competitive field that requires proactivity and diligence on your part to land a job. Job portals such as Indeed and Monster are usually updated daily with fresh openings and provide pharmacy technician job descriptions, ensuring you know the details and requirements about each position. Check for new postings every day or two; a job search is a job in and of itself requiring patience and dedication.
5. Stay connected
It’s no secret that landing a great job is often about who you know. Take full advantage of your externship by networking with the pharmacists, technicians, and managers. Make the most of these connections by staying in touch through social media platforms—particularly LinkedIn. LinkedIn not only helps you keep in contact with industry professionals you know, but it can also help expand and organize your professional network.
Another great resource to become connected with the pharmacy technician world is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). This organization uses social media to share news of the industry and to help current and future CPhTs connect and learn more about the profession. Additionally, check out PharmQD to keep up-to-date on the latest pharmacy technician news. This online community provides real-life success stories, job opportunities, pharmacy technician job descriptions, and information on the industry.
Have tips on getting a job as a pharmacy technician that we missed? Let us know in the comments below! We’re happy to add them to the list.