Even in a slow economy, the employment outlook for pharmacy technicians is better than average. Projections for the next decade show an expanded need for technicians to accommodate the prescription needs of the baby boomer population. The increased use of drug dispensing machines may have some influence on the numbers in certain situations - but, as a whole, the need for pharmacy technicians is expected to continue to increase for the next several years. Pharmacy technicians are employed by hospitals, clinics, retail chain stores, small independent drugstores and mail-order suppliers.
While many employers still offer on-the-job training, the growing trend is toward hiring techs that have attended pharmacy technician schools and have been officially certified by either the Pharmacy Technician Board or the Institute of Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT). In most states it is still voluntary to take the certification, but a number of states do require it now - and that number is likely to increase.
To prepare for pharmacy technician school, you must be a high school graduate or have a GED and you may not have had any sort of drug conviction. Other skills useful in preparing for this career include an interest in math and science and basic computer proficiency.
Training includes class work and lab time, medical terminology and special math procedures. There are also courses in record keeping and inventory, in addition to training in the legal aspects of drug dispensing.
There are three ways to find pharmacy technician school training. The first is to be hired by a company that provides training for its employees. The second is to check out your local community college to see whether they offer this program. Many do, and this is an economical way to be trained. The final way is to research the private trade, technical, and business schools in your area. Tuition varies from school to school and you will want to look at all aspects of each program. Details to take into account are the availability of grants and loans and whether or not the school provides a job placement service.
A final consideration in your choice of pharmacy technician schools is the end product of your training: what can you expect salary-wise at the end of your schooling? A recent survey of salaries shows that beginners with less than three years of experience can earn from $27,000 to $33,000. Experienced technicians working at the supervisory level can earn more than $50,000 per year.