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A career in pharmacy can be a fun, high-paying job for the right kind of person. Students who are most successful as pharmacists have a dedication to helping people, precise attention to detail and a commitment to the 6-year program that pharmacy requires.
Still, if you don't have that kind of time, you could be pursuing your dream to work in a pharmacy in as little as 2 years. Many pharmacy assistants, or pharmacy technicians, are sometimes able to find jobs with only a 2-year certificate under their belt. The best part? Many of these pharmacy technician programs are available completely online, so you can continue to work while you attend classes. read more »
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The pharmacy technician does many of the same tasks that a pharmacist is licensed to perform, but the assistant works under the supervision of the pharmacist and therefore does not need as much education. Pharmacy techs can assemble and supply medicine to patients, educate consumers about their medications and even supervise other pharmacists.
In addition, pharmacy techs also provide needed office assistance and administration. Government controls, insurance requirements and extensive pharmaceutical database management can require much of a pharmacists' time. Filling a single prescription is now a process that can take 30 to 45 minutes, and includes verifying that the patient is not receiving a duplicate or inaccurate prescription. Many of the required checks and procedures are bureaucratic paperwork—except that it's now down on computer—that can easily be completed by an assistant while the pharmacist handles the actual medication itself.
What are the working conditions?
For the most part, pharmacist technicians work in hospitals and drug stores. They can also work at traditional and alternative dispensaries and even pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. In a large pharmacy, the pace can be quite hectic. You will often see five or six people working behind the pharmacy counter, and usually only one of them is actually a licensed pharmacist. The rest of the employees are pharmacy technicians.
What is the typical pay and career outlook?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median wage for a pharmacy technician in May 2012 was $29,320. While the lowest 10% earned less than $20,000, the highest 10% earned more than $42,000. As with many medical careers, pay increases with experience and education. In order the get the highest-paying technician jobs, many students choose to take the Physician Assistant Board Certification exam in addition to completing pharmacy technician training online or on campus.
Those who have long-term goals for being a pharmacist may also find a pharmacy technician certification to be a good investment. To begin pharmacy technician training online or on-campus, it requires only a high school diploma or GED, which makes it a natural step for students trying to decide if it's the right career choice for them. The skills needed to pass the certificate program will allow students to gain employment and have hands-on learning experience in the field. In addition, the credits earned in an on-campus or online pharmacy tech program can often be transferred towards a 4-year pharmaceutical degree.
Why should I choose an Online program?
Obtaining a pharmacy technician certification online will not only make you qualified for a job, but it is a great way to find out if the field is right for you. If so, you can then return to classes and become a pharmacist yourself. There are many pharmacy technician online schools that offer more advanced degrees, often in a hybrid setting where there are both online and offline classes. This gives you the opportunity to continue learning about becoming a pharmacist and possibly using your assistant certification as a springboard toward that goal.
Another important reason many people choose online pharmacy tech programs is that they are able to continue their current lifestyle while going to school. Many students with families or other jobs love the pharmacy technician certification online option. Often, students can complete the entire program completely on their own time, scheduled around their family and work responsibilities.
However, it is important to clearly understand the program requirements before enrolling in an online pharmacy tech program. Some schools have internship or lab requirements, which means additional travel or networking to fulfill.