Getting a pharmacists license is not easy; you need to undergo years of schooling and you have to pass a state-mandated licensure exam. Not everyone has the time and resources to become a full-fledged pharmacist, but anyone can become a pharmacy technician, which is somewhat the next best thing. There are many pharmacy technician job opportunities these days, and it would be in your best interest to grab them while you can.
Why become a pharmacy technician?
The biggest reason why anyone should at least consider becoming a pharmacy tech is because it pays quite well. In the US, pharmacy techs earn between US$23k to $44k annually, depending on the sector in which they can find employment. If you can land a job at a government-funded hospital for instance, you can stand to earn more than $40k a year. According to reports, the highest paying pharmacy technician job opportunities are in California, particularly in the Bay Area and in Napa Valley.
How do you become a pharmacy technician?
As mentioned before, to become a pharmacist, you need a college degree in pharmacy, which typically takes five years or more. However, to become a pharmacy technician it would be best to attend short courses offered by most community colleges.
These courses will teach the basic skills that pharmacy techs need to have, like basic accounting, inventory tracking, and the mathematics behind dispensing medication. After completing these short courses, you will get a certificate of completion, which will really help you land a job at a pharmacy. On the other hand, formal training is optional as you can learn all the things you need to know through on-the-job training.
However, you should check with your states labor code to see if you need to take a state-sanctioned licensure exam for pharmacy technicians. Many states do not actually require a license, but your state may be one of those that does.
The great thing about becoming a pharmacy technician is that, although its a demanding job, the stress levels are quite manageable. You can also have a good work-life balance as most pharmacies offer flexible schedules and more than decent bonuses. Most pharmacies operate 24 hours a day, and they will usually let you choose the time of your shifts.
If you opt for continued education, career advancement is almost always guaranteed. You can start working as a part-time technician while you pursue a degree in pharmacy, or you can choose to work full time and there is still a chance for you to get a promotion within the ranks of the company for which you work. Overall, most pharmacy technicians say that their job satisfaction is above average.
In closing, although it might not be the most lucrative of careers, the perks of becoming a pharmacy technician far outweigh the disadvantages. For one thing, you will be well above the median salary range of US workers. The requirements for the job are also not that hard to acquire. Lastly, you will be entering a career that is not as stressful and provides ample compensation.