Exploring Veterinary Pharmacy Technician Career, Salary & Education Requirements
If you’re an energetic and highly motivated animal person who is looking to start a career in the health care field, you might want to consider becoming a VPT, or Veterinary Pharmacy Technician. To start, you’ll most likely need to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician, just like if you were planning to work at a pharmacy for humans.
This specialty area of practice isn’t as common as traditional pharmacy technician employment opportunities (indeed it could more challenging to pursue), however it provides another opportunity for technicians to broaden their experience and expertise and seek employment.
This career will give you an opportunity to help countless pets and their owners, while making sure the workplace runs smoothly each day. It’s a big responsibility, but for the right person becoming a VPT can be the beginning of a very fulfilling career. Everyone wants their pets to be happy and healthy. This career allows you to play a vital role in making that happen.
Technicians become involved in the preparation and dispensing of drugs in dedicated veterinary pharmacies.
As with pharmaceuticals used by humans, drugs to be given to animals can be both over the counter (OTC) or prescribed. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) publishes guidelines covering the use and distribution of prescription drugs.
The Role of a Veterinary Technician
The role of a veterinary pharmacy technician varies, in some places technicians are responsible for the actual compounding duties such as:
- Creating liquid dosage forms from oral tablets
- Creating flavored (beef, chicken etc.) drugs to increase palatability
- Adjusting dosage forms outside of the normal dosage range
Since there can be significant differences in animal species (i.e. metabolism, absorption, pH), a technician may need to adjust dosage forms. Indeed aspirin being administered to a canine pet can prove to be poisonous to the feline population. So it’s not uncommon to adjust dosage forms to meet the dose requirement.
For aspiring or existing pharmacy technicians who are looking for an interesting and challenging twist, this niche area requires expertise in compounding and dispensing of pharmaceuticals.
Veterinary Pharmacy Tech Job Description
VPTs work in pharmacies at animal clinics, universities, hospitals, and other workplaces that involve dispensing medication to animals. VPTs should be comfortable around animals (although not all VPTs work closely with them), have great computer and communication skills, be comfortable working independently and as a team, and be proficient at math.
As part of the job, VPTs must also be able to stand for long periods of time, crouch, and do some lifting. Attention to detail is another important element of this job, seeing as VPTs play a big role in overseeing the dispensing of medication and maintenance of inventory under pharmacist supervision.
Day to Day Duties
Veterinary Technician’s day-to-day duties vary depending on the day and the workplace setting. However, typical tasks that VPTs must perform include: greeting owners and their pets, entering patient information into computer systems, processing transactions, restocking and ordering inventory, communicating with other staff members, and answering client questions.
VPTs ensure that things are running smoothly by performing vital support tasks throughout the day. In addition to the other tasks mentioned and depending on the setting, VPTs may sometimes fill prescriptions under the supervision of a pharmacist or deliver medications in hospital settings (during surgery, for example).
Requirements to become a veterinary tech include a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as pharmacy experience and/or certification. Specific requirements vary from workplace to workplace and state to state, which is why it is important to look up the requirements where you live and contact possible workplaces to inquire about their individual requirements.
Generally, most places will require that you complete a pharmacy technician program and become certified as a pharmacy technician. In some cases, a mixture of relevant education and experience might be accepted. Candidates may also continue their education with the American College of Veterinary Pharmacists.
Veterinarian Pharmacy Tech Salary Overview
According to the most recent BLS statistics, over 99,390 VPTs are employed in the US.
The mean hourly wage for VPTs is $16,29, meaning that half of veterinary pharmacy techs make less than that amount, and half make more. The mean yearly wage for the occupation is $33,870. Depending on education, experience, and where you work these numbers can vary from as little as $10.74 per hour all the way to up to $23.24 per hour or $22,340 to $48,330 annually.
Some industries are higher paying than others. VPTs who work for the federal or local government, general medical and surgical animal hospitals, and museums or historical sites make more, for example, compared to those who work in other settings.
Since the field of veterinary pharmacy has not been around for long, there’s still a lot of growth in the field and demand to fill VPT positions.
VPT is a great career option for animal lovers that doesn’t require a long time in school. It is also a great choice for pharmacy technicians who are looking for a change of pace or clientele. As a VPT, you can choose to work in different settings depending on your strengths and the level of responsibility that you want.
For example, if you’re squeamish and don’t want to see animals being operated on, you may want to work in just a pharmacy setting rather than as a VPT within a hospital. If you work in a hospital setting, you might be required to help provide medication for sick animals and those undergoing surgeries.
So on that note….
As a VPT, you’ll support pharmacists in performing numerous duties that allow the workplace to operate smoothly. Performing these duties helps make sure that pets are given their medication in a safe, timely, and effective manner.
If you meet the requirements to become a VPT or have traits that you make you suited for this kind of work, it’s a career that is worth considering. If you’re not sure where to start, the first step is to search for information on becoming a VPT in your state and call places that employ VPTs to find out what they look for in potential candidates.