Pros and Cons of Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Some people know they want to work in the medical field and help people from when they are very young, while it's something that others don't consider until later in life. Whatever the case for each of them the medical field is a big, wide open one that offers all kinds of opportunities.

One of the options open to you if you want to work with patients and make a real difference in their lives is to become a pharmacy technician.

But is that the best option for you? Only you can decide that in the end, but to help here's a closer look at some of the biggest pros and cons of becoming a pharmacy technician.

The Pros of Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

A female pharmacy technician working in a retail pharmacy

Training Can Be Completed Quickly

Not everyone wants to spend seven to nine years in college and then medical school to become a doctor, or even two to four years in college to become a nurse. Some people are also not cut out for the 'blood and gore' that accompanies these professions, or for the long, unpredictable hours they almost always entail as well.

Becoming a pharmacy technician is a way to get into the medical field quickly and yet still pursue a career in medicine that helps people from all walks of life, and even, in some cases, animals too!

Most pharmacy technician certification programs, those required to take the PTCE to become a certified pharmacy technician, can be completed in less than a year, and, in some cases, as little as six to eight months. 

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Training Can Be Completed Online

Full time schooling just isn't an option for many working adults, and so making a career change or gaining a new vocational skill can be hard. The good news for those considering becoming a pharmacy technician is that a growing number of pharmacy technician programs are offered online.

Being able to complete almost all their training online - many programs do require a physical externship be completed, but that can be scheduled around you, not a school timetable - means that if you are a working adult who just cannot afford to quit their job and go to school full time you can still become a pharmacy technician by completing your training online.

Good Earnings Paycheck

Pharmacy technicians work hard, but their pay reflects that. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average salary for a pharmacy technician nationwide in the US in 2019 was $33,950 per year.

That figure varies, up and down, according to where you live and who you work for, but in general, becoming a pharmacy technician pays off in the form of good pay - and excellent promotion prospects in many cases.

It's a Varied and Growing Profession

Speaking of growth, pharmacy technicians are in demand across the country and, again according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics that demand will only continue to grow.

Growth is good, but so are career options. If you choose to become a certified pharmacy technician, you have a lot of those open to you.

In addition to working in a retail pharmacy, there are pharmacies in hospitals and long-term care facilities, compounding pharmacies that offer specialized and even 'personalized' medications, mail order pharmacies, alternative pharmacies designed to serve special needs patients and more.

A certified pharmacy technician can even work in a veterinary pharmacy if they choose to! 

Also Related: Veterinary Pharmacy Technician Career, Salary & Education Requirements

Pharmacy Techs Can Keep Growing, Professionally at Least

You may start off as the lowly 'new kid' when you first become a certified pharmacy technician but the prospects for growth are usually very good.

For example, it's not at all unusual for Pharmacy Technicians to grow into pharmacy management positions both in retail and clinical settings.

Being open to learning new things, like the basics of compounding technology, can bring exciting new opportunities too. And many pharmacists got their start working as pharmacy technicians and obtaining the additional education needed to become a licensed pharmacist on a part-time basis.

You Get To Help People

For some people their pharmacy - and its staff - is as important to their health and well-being as their doctor and her staff. For others getting a medication they have been prescribed can make a huge difference to their short-term health and turn a bad day into a better one.

As they are increasingly responsible for the bulk of patient interaction pharmacy technicians have a very big role to play in customer care, and according to lots of experienced pharmacy technicians being able to help people in real, meaningful ways is one of the best things about what they do. 

The Cons of Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Every job has its downsides, or cons, and that is true of becoming a pharmacy technician as much as any other vocation. Here are some that those in profession already mention most often.

Difficult Patients

Difficult patients come with the territory for medical professionals, but as they are often the first contact in a pharmacy for patients, and also the ones who work with insurance companies and may have to deliver unwanted news about coverage problems, or copays, difficult patients can be a particular problem for pharmacy technicians.

Most of these people do not mean to ruin your day, but are ill, injured and often frustrated, so the news that a medication may not be covered by their health insurance, or a copay might be very high, or even that they might be facing a longer wait to receive their prescription can lead the nicest people to be unpleasant. That’s where great customer service skills come in.

Most pharmacy technician training courses do offer soft skills modules that help teach students how to deal with difficult patients. These are very helpful but running into – and having to stay calm and helpful with – difficult, often angry people is a downside of the job.

Also Read: How to train to be a pharmacy technician

Longer Hours

Not many pharmacy technician positions are standard 9-5 jobs. With many retail pharmacies expanding their hours, and as clinical pharmacies in hospitals usually operate long hours too, the hours worked by a pharmacy technician are often longer than some other professions and can be rather unusual too, especially when you are just starting out in the profession.

This is a con that would be pharmacy techs should be aware of, even if it really isn’t a problem for many of them. 

Continuing Education Requirements

Some jobs you can do for years and years without the need for extra training. Certified pharmacy technician is not one of them. Other ongoing education requirements vary from state to state but to maintain your PTCB or NHCA pharmacy technician certification you will need to recertify every two years, calling for additional time to be spent training. Failure to do so does result in the loss of certification.

This is, however, the case for any profession one needs to be certified for, from accountants to hairdressers as well as pharmacy technicians!

Also Read: All You Need to Know About PTCB CphT Recertification

Final Thoughts

There are, as we have now covered, downsides to becoming a pharmacy technician and they are things to keep in mind as you decide whether it’s the right career path for you. In closing though it’s worth mentioning that most pharmacy technicians say the pros usually outweigh the cons and that even years into their careers they still think they made a great choice.

Search Pharmacy Technician Programs

Get information on Pharmacy Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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