Is it worth becoming a pharmacy technician? First of all, I can’t answer that for you. What I can do instead though is a give you a general overview of some of the good points and bad points as I see them and then let you make up your own mind.
If all else fails, ask around. You probably know some people who are pharmacy technicians. In turn, they’ll know five other people who are pharmacy technicians and so on and so forth. Just continue down the line and pay attention to recurring themes.
Positives of Becoming A Pharmacy Technician
Quickness: Sometimes I cringe I to think about all the time, effort and money I put into pharmacy school. Six years. Thousands of hours. Tens of thousands of dollars. Of course, the payoff has been pretty nice. At least for most people it would be considered nice. But there were times, oh were there times, when you thought about packing it in and giving it up because six years seemed so far down the road. And that was if you got through without any problems.
I know a fair amount of pharmacists who took longer. Sometimes up to ten years. A decade of your life.
But if you want to learn how to become a pharmacy technicians it’s a lot different. In my experience you can go from cold, off-the-street, don’t know a thing about pharmacy person and within ninety days be a functioning and ready to be certified technician. Within a year you could be certified and head technician making $13 or $14 an hour. Not a princes sum, but for a lot of people it’s nothing to sneeze at.
All this was done in a fairly quick amount of time with most (if not all of it) being done on-the-job without having to dole out your hard earned money or time for college courses.
Surroundings: My dad used to harp on doing something that you didn’t have to work outside. Imagine…warm during the winters and cool during the summers.
Well, he’s right. Not to mention that most employers will give you pretty decent benefits. I still smile when I look outside in August when I see people struggling in the 97 degree heat while I’m comfortably working in an air conditioned pharmacy.
Speaking of surroundings, you’re also not beating your body up to make a buck. No strained backs, sunburns, broken fingers and the like. Of course, you can end up on your feet in pretty much one spot for hours on end – but every job has trade offs.
Benefits: Most of the time when you are a technician you’ll be working for larger corporations. And, as such, they are used to paying benefits for their employee’s. Sometimes the benefits are extraordinary.
For example, one of my employers (in mail order at the time) offered free health care insurance. And, not just for you. But your whole family. Didn’t matter if you had one kid or ten. You didn’t pay a dime.
Also, they had a package set up that if you worked for them until age 55 and had a certain amount of years experience you could have your health insurance paid for in retirement until you died. They also offered stock options and bonuses.
The point is that any job in the medical field right now can be a good place to be because they are hurting for workers and the need, on the consumer side, for medical care never goes away.
Negatives of Becoming A Pharmacy Technician
Won’t Get Rich: While you can make some decent money as a pharmacy technician you’ll likely never get rich doing it.
The highest I’ve ever seen a technician paid in my area was $20 an hour. Good money – particularly for no formal education. But that’s probably about as high as you’ll see.
Animosity: This is kind of a touch subject for some technicians because they feel like they are being picked on. But that’s not what I’m trying to do. What I am trying to do is point out that when you are a pharmacy technician you are basically a helper to the pharmacist. After a while some technicians see that pharmacists are ‘just checking’ prescriptions and that they do most or all of the work.
First of all, you will work with some bad pharmacists from time to time. Maybe they do make you do more than your comfortable with. Maybe they are jerks. It could be any number of things. But you have to get over that. Being subordinate to the pharmacist is part of your job – and your job description.
Other times technicians feel that pharmacists don’t really do anything that special or complicated and that they should be paid more. This is the group I struggle with the most as I can promise you that pharmacists take all of the responsibility for everything you do. That’s why they are paid three times more than you. If you screw something up and the pharmacist doesn’t catch it guess who gets a call from the patient’s attorney?
Yep…the pharmacist. Not the technician.
If that’s hurts some feelings so be it. But it’s the truth.
So, does that seem like a lot of downside to you? It shouldn’t.
Becoming a pharmacy technician is a relatively easy field to get into. You get paid decent. The demand will always be there. And, if you prove your worth, you can make it into the $20 an hour range. Depending on where you live that may or may not be a lot of money. But, considering that there are some people I know who went to college for five years for a worthless degree and are now qualified to ask, “do you want fries with that” for $8 an hour it seems like a pretty decent trade-off.
Besides, becoming a pharmacy technician may help you decide that you want to go do something more or do something more. If you train on the job all that cost you to realize that was some of your time. No money. You can’t say that about a college degree.
And, believe it or not, I know doctors who only realized they never wish they would have become a doctor until their second year of residency. Ouch.