Pharmacy Technicians


Employment Prospects


There are approximately 420,400 pharmacy technicians employed in the United States. Most opportunities for pharmacy technicians are in retail. An externship provides a suitable way to segue into this position. Technicians also work in hospitals and long-term care facilities as well as in clinics at military bases, prisons, and colleges. Technicians are also finding work with home health care agencies, mail-order and Internet pharmacies, and with the federal government.

Starting Out

In some cases you may be able to pursue education and certification while employed as a pharmacy technician. Some chain drugstores pay the certification fees for their techs and also reward certified techs with higher hourly pay. This practice will probably increase—industry experts predict a need for pharmacists and technicians as more chain drugstores open across the country, and more pharmacies offer 24-hour service.

Pharmacy technicians often are hired by the hospital or agency where they interned or externed; others may find jobs through networking, professional organizations, or a general job search.

Professional pharmacy associations often offer job listings at their Web sites. For example, the National Pharmacy Technician Association offers a career page at http://www.pharmacytechnician.org/npta-career-center.

Advancement Prospects

Depending on where they are employed, technicians may direct or instruct newer pharmacy technicians, make schedules, or move to purchasing or computer work. Some hospitals have a variety of tech designations, based on experience and responsibility, with a corresponding increase in pay. More opportunities for advancement exist in the federal government, such as with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. With the relatively limited advancement opportunities for retail technicians, some pharmacy techs return to school to pursue a degree in pharmacy.

Tips for Entry

Enroll in a pharmacy technician externship to boost your competitiveness. For more information, visit https://www.careerstep.com/programs/pharmacy-technician.

Purchase a study guide for passing the certification exam. One such guide is Mosby’s Pharmacy Technician Exam Review, by James J. Mizner.

Consider which work environment will be best for you (e.g., retail store, hospital, nursing home) by either visiting, volunteering, or speaking to pharmacy technicians.