Career Profile: So, you want to be Pharmacy Technician

Miguel Camarillo, Reporter

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So, you want to b a pharmacy technician.

Working under the title of pharmacy technician states, working under the supervision of pharmacists. Technicians prepare and fill medical prescriptions for patients. A typical day in a life of a pharmacy technician is on their feet, order and packaging drugs, filling prescriptions and accepting payment from patients in retail or hospitals. Pharmacy technicians can be found in community CVS’s, Wall greens or hospitals helping patients with their illnesses.

What does it take? Technicians need to have passed the PTCB exam and have completed the pharm program. Technicians require a high school diploma
Where can you get it? Aspiring pharm techs can get training from online classes or visiting a pharmacy technician program.
When can you do it? Certificate and associate degree programs can take one to two years to complete.
Why should you do it? One of the many benefits of becoming a pharmacy technician is that it’s an ever expanding practice that helps ill people without any physical contact.
How much will you make? The entry salary is $30.000 and and experienced technicians can go up $65,000.

In Illinois there are 25 colleges and public universities that offer the pharmacy technician/assistant program. The least expensive tuition (fees included) seems to be at city college of Chicago, olive Harvey college for $7,012 per year. However, a associates degree is not necessary to become a pharmacy technician, but does require to a year of job experience or pharmacy tech program completion. In the state of Illinois it is required to have a pharmacy tech certification to begin the practice. One of the more expensive pharmacy tech schools would have to be Robert Morrison University of Illinois who offer $25,950 including fees. It is best to aim for the least expensive technician programs like Harvey College who offer $7,012 tuition per year. It’s best to avoid proprietary schools when looking to attend a college or university.

Dr. Jason Moore, Pharmacy technician at Sinai hospital

Moore’s been working at Sinai hospital for 7 years now and is still relatively new, but says there are still new thing to be discovered because the medical field always discovering new break troughs in modern medicine.

Q & A

  • Can you tell me what it’s like working here day to day?

A typical day goes like this, first I check into the lab and I do my daily measurements on the medicine, next I check the storage of the drugs and start filling bottles of prescriptions of patients or I’m either speaking with patients about their medication or covering for the counter when patients get their medication. I do this for about 9 hours, not too difficult if I say so myself.

  • How many years did you study to get to where you’re at?

I studied for about 6 years most study for 2 or 3, but it was a special case for me because I took tech classes in order to become more accustomed to the technology we were using at the time. For one I’m not much of a computer guy I still struggle at times, learning new techniques almost monthly doesn’t help either. I suggest that those starting take some computer tech classes while in high school or something.

  • Are there any tips you can give to aspiring Pharmacy  techs?

First, take the college pharmacy tech program and develop a background on computers. This will give you a competitive advantage because employers are always looking for those that have experience because most of what we do is on the computer.

  • Did you get many scholarships?

No, for one I had to pay all of my college expenses out of pocket because all my applications were rejected, it wasn’t too bad though because my parents at the time had been saving. In all, my parents paid for 3 years and I paid the rest. I’m sure that it’s easy to get some good financial aid, I recommend looking for colleges that have internships with the pharmacy tech program because I can help you pay for college while gaining experience for later jobs.

  • What’s the difference between a pharmacist and a pharmacy technician?

Pharmacy technicians do not receive medical training. We are not allowed to give medical advice to patients. The pharmacy techs and pharmacist both play essential roles in the pharmacy, we work together to ensure the safety and health of our patients. Plus, techs don’t give medication to patients without the approval of a pharmacists.

  • How much do you get paid at entry level?

When I had first started I was working at a retail Walgreen’s and I was earning up to $27,000 ,but I’m not too sure what it is today I’m sure it’s a little higher now.

  • How secure is this job? And do you see many new faces or are new hires not common?

I think pharmacy techs can always count on having a job on the field. There will always be sick people and there will always be a service to give them their medicine.

  • What is something that you can tell me about this job that you can’t find online?

Well….honestly this job really isn’t for a person with a weak heart because every once in a while there is this one person that will lash out at you for not giving them their medicine, believe me they really get up in your face.

  • What are the biggest challenges about your job?

More often than not it’s the computers having problems that make the job hard at times. It causes mayhem because 70% of what we do here is digital.

  • What’s the best thing about this job?

What I really enjoy about working here at the hospital is that I can interact with the patients more and it’s less hectic that working at retail, plus the pay is nice.





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