How To Find Entry-Level Pharmacy Tech Jobs
Never before has it been such a good idea to be a pharmacy technician in the United States.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that job opportunities for pharmacy technicians will grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029. This makes it a brilliant time to start looking for entry-level pharmacy tech jobs.
In this guide, we will tell you exactly how to get that perfect entry-level pharmacy technician job. We will also share where to look for pharmacy technician jobs so you can start working toward your dream career.
Job Opportunities for Pharmacy Technicians
If you are a newly certified pharmacy technician, you are probably starting to consider where you can get your first job. Pharmacy techs do more than just work behind the counter at the local pharmacy.
You can find a pharmacy technician at retail pharmacies, hospitals, care homes, and compounding pharmacies, to name a few.
Here are some of the most popular opportunities for a budding pharmacy technician.
Retail or chain pharmacy
It is estimated that 70% of US pharmacy techs are employed in a retail pharmacy. They are responsible for dispensing billions of prescriptions each year. An entry-level pharmacy technician will thrive at this job as it is where a lot about the industry can be learned.
Typical duties in this entry-level pharmacy technician position include filling and processing prescriptions, answering the phone, labeling medications, managing the inventory, scheduling medication delivery, and handling any queries from insurance companies.
There are plenty of chain pharmacies in the US, but independent pharmacies make up 40% of all pharmacies in the country.
Pharmacy technician functions at these independent establishments are the same as the duties at a chain pharmacy.
About 17% of all pharmacy techs work in hospitals. A hospital pharmacy technician is responsible for interpreting and processing prescriptions, dispensing medication, compounding medications, reconciling medication, and doing pharmacy calculations. A pharmacy technician delivers patient medication doses throughout the hospital.
Health insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers employ pharmacy techs. A pharmacy technician in such a setting is responsible for interacting with customers, reviewing claim requests, and also acting as an advisor. A pharmacy technician working in managed care may also be required to offer training to doctor’s offices.
Fewer than 10% of pharmacy techs work in this setting.
Nuclear pharmacies are specialized pharmacies that work with radioactive medications. A pharmacy technician will be specifically trained to work with these types of meds.
Typical duties are similar to those of a standard pharmacy technician. Specialized technicians must also know how to safely handle and transport radiopharmaceuticals.
Less than 1% of pharmacy techs are specialized in this kind of work.
Working in the industry
The pharmaceutical industry is constantly developing. New drugs are continuously being developed and promoted.
Pharmacy technician jobs in this industry involve doing literature reviews, writing medication information documents, coordinating drug information requests, and also aiding with quality assurance.
Federal agencies like the Bureau of Prisons, the Armed Forces, and the Veterans Administration offer pharmacy technician jobs. Although these jobs are more skilled, occasionally, an entry-level position may open up.
Pharmacy technician duties in this setting include managing inventory, replenishing medications, dispensing medications, receiving and reviewing prescriptions, and managing the pharmacy computer system.
Other entry-level pharmacy technician jobs
Apart from the above-mentioned positions, there are some other pharmacy technician jobs available.
These include working for a mail-order pharmacy or remaining in academia to research medications. A pharmacy tech can potentially also work for poison control.
Essential Tips for Getting Your First Pharmacy Technician Job
Are you ready to enter an entry-level pharmacy technician job? It may just be an entry-level position you are looking for, but you still need to be prepared!
Here are our top tips for landing that perfect pharmacy technician position.
Understand what is required
The first thing you will need to figure out before becoming a pharmacy technician is what the qualifying requirements are.
Sounds easy, right? Well, requirements and qualifications differ by state, which makes it a bit challenging.
Before you begin, you should pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCE) and get a Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification.
That said, in certain states, you do not need a PCTB certification. Colorado is one such state where a pharmacy technician license is not required.
Master the necessary skills
You may not have any work experience yet (unless you did an externship). That does imply you have to go to your first entry-level position completely unprepared.
Even a certified pharmacy technician may not have mastered all the necessary skills yet.
Some essential skills you will need for your first job include:
- Organization and time management
- Data entry
- Retail experience
- Knowledge of pharmacology
- Knowledge about insurance companies
- Understanding the importance of confidentiality
- Computer skills (including understanding the pharmacy computer system)
- Math skills
- People skills (including compassion and communication)
- Billing and accounting
Being able to develop these skills before you start applying for work will show employers that you are serious and have what it takes.
In your training to become a certified pharmacy technician, you will have encountered some of these necessary skills.
Deal with customers
Customer service skills are essential for a pharmacy tech. These skills are not something that is commonly taught in pharmacy technician education. It is a skill that a pharmacy tech must naturally have.
Having proven customer service skills will boost your resume and means you will be able to deal with even the most frustrated clients.
Fortunately, you do not have to do a complicated course to learn these skills. Often they are naturally acquired as one goes through life.
Gain experience via an internship or externship
Gaining pharmacy experience is not always a must when looking to land a job, but it is probably a good idea.
Getting relevant experience will make you stand out from the other applicants. The best way to get this experience is to sign up for a pharmacy technician education that includes an externship.
At this externship, you will work in a real pharmacy setting to get all the experience you need.
An internship will also provide you with valuable experience that you won’t gain if you only do a course.
Many schools that offer pharmacy technician education include either an internship or externship as part of the program.
Undergo pharmacy technician training
Many states require pharmacy technician training. Even if you live in a state where a certification is not required, you will still benefit from some kind of education in the industry.
The knowledge and experience you gain from the right education will help you to land the perfect entry-level pharmacy position.
Pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCE)
The PTCE is an examination by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
A certified pharmacy technician must sit, and pass, the PTCE. You can do your research to learn about the pharmacy technician license required by the state, but most require the PTCE to be passed.
Go to a job readiness class
Job readiness classes are offered to new graduates before they enter the job market.
These classes focus on how to dress for an interview, how to build a resume, how to interact with managers, and how to behave in a professional setting.
Get ready to network
If you are looking for a job, you have to get ready to sell yourself. Whether you are networking in person or on the internet, your goal is to convince others to hire you.
You want to stand out from other candidates, so don’t be afraid to approach people and companies who may have entry-level pharmacy tech jobs on offer.
Prepare for the interview
There is no harm in preparing for an interview, even if you don’t have one lined up yet.
You can do your research to prepare for questions that are specifically asked in pharmacy technician interviews. Also, research general or common questions that may be asked.
Consider where you want to work
As mentioned above, there are plenty of job opportunities for pharmacy technicians. Sure, the most common job is working in a retail pharmacy, but pharmacy techs are also needed in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, outpatient centers, and federal bodies.
Before you start applying for work, make sure you know exactly where you want to work.
Employers get hundreds of resumes when they offer a position. To land that first job, you need to stand out from the other applicants.
You can get extra work experience or do extra courses that will set you above the rest.
Prepare your resume
You can only start applying for jobs when your resume is up to date.
Make sure to highlight your qualifications (even if it is just a high school diploma), work experience, and skills.
A good idea is to look at job postings for pharmacy techs and then list the required skills on your resume.
Even if your previous work experience is not pharmacy-related, you can still list some experience and favorable skills, like:
- Understanding medical terminology
- Volunteering in care homes
- Working in retail
- Being multilingual
Where to Start to Apply
Now that you have all the tips you need, you are probably wondering where to find your first entry-level pharmacy position.
Here are some places to consider when looking to apply for work:
Even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an increase in pharmacy technician jobs in the future, it remains a very competitive industry.
Job portals are a good place to start your search, as it allows you to filter by location and experience required.
Zip Recruiter, Indeed, and Monster are good portals to begin with.
You can also use LinkedIn to your advantage and advertise yourself as “open to work.” There are also job postings on LinkedIn.
Set a job alert for the term “pharmacy technician” to receive emails every time a job is posted.
Connect with the right people
Getting a job is sometimes about who you know.
If you are doing an externship, make sure to remain in contact with the pharmacy and the people who work there. LinkedIn is a great way to remain connected to pharmacists and pharmacy managers.
You should also connect with the PTCB. You can follow them on social media for regular updates on the industry.
PharmQD is also a great resource. This online community remains updated with the latest pharmacy tech news and jobs.
Benefits of Working as a Pharmacy Technician
A pharmacy technician job has several benefits that make it worth it.
Apart from the amazing (and growing) job availability, these jobs are often shift-based which gives you some flexibility. The starting wage of a pharmacy technician position is around $30,000.
The flexibility of this position means it is great for someone with children, a college student who wants to gain experience, or anyone in need of flexible working hours.
Since many retail pharmacies are now open 24 hours a day, a pharmacy tech just starting out is guaranteed to find hours that work for them.
Although you do need a license in many states, some states offer these entry-level positions to people with a high school diploma and some work experience.
What are the certification requirements for a pharmacy technician?
It depends on the state, but generally, a pharmacy tech requires the following:
- high school diploma
- passing the PTCE
- passing a background check
Can you get a job as a pharmacy technician without getting a certification?
Almost all the states will only employ certified pharmacy techs who pass the PTCE. However, it does vary, and Colorado, for example, does not require a formal qualification.
Do your research to determine what the requirements are for your state.
Can I take the Pharmacy Technician Exam without going to school?
Technically you can take the PTCE exam without going to school for it, but you risk failing. This examination costs $129, and if you fail, you will lose this money. Rather get some formal education and hands-on experience before sitting the PTCE.
The future for pharmacy technicians looks promising. With many jobs estimated to become available, more and more people are considering this career. Unfortunately, this makes it pretty competitive as well.
Get the advantage by preparing yourself for your new job. If you keep our tips in mind, you are guaranteed to land the perfect entry-level pharmacy technician job!