10 Things You Need to Know Before Working in a Pharmacy

working in a pharmacy

Beginning a new career is exciting. It’s a fresh start. It’s a time of growth and learning. It’s your opportunity to make a better life for you and your family!

But before you start down the path toward any career, there are a few things you should know. You want to understand the education requirements required and the everyday duties and expectations involved. It’s helpful to know the salary potential and career outlook as well.

To give you a sneak peek of what it’s really like working in a pharmacy, we compiled a master list of the top things you should know beforehand. This way, if you do decide to work in a pharmacy, whether as a pharmacy tech or pharmacist, you’ll know just what to expect.

This list combines government data and professional insight to provide you with a behind-the-scenes look of working in a pharmacy. Keep reading to determine if this work environment appeals to you!

What you NEED to know before working in a pharmacy

1. Pharmacy hours may be irregular

“It’s not uncommon for shifts to include evenings, nights, weekends and holidays, especially when starting out,” says Joey Jiminez, compounding specialist and consultant of Total Pharmacy Supply.

He explains that some hospital and retail pharmacies operate 24 hours a day to serve patients, meaning new technicians may be assigned late or even overnight shifts. However, as you increase your experience and move up the ranks, you’ll likely gain more autonomy over your schedule.

2. A pharm tech career can lead to becoming a pharmacist

“A pharmacy technician certification can be a great starting point to lead to a permanent career in pharmacy,” Jimienz says.

The certification helps legitimize your knowledge of the field and prepares you for the rigorous education requirements of becoming a full-fledged pharmacist. Plus it can keep you up to date with advancements in medical technology and terminology. Read more about why the pharmacy technician certification is worth it.

3. Median pay for pharm techs is $29,320 per year*

The median annual salary for pharm techs falls just short of $30,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They also report the top 10 percent of earners brought in nearly $42,500 per year. Higher pharm tech salaries are typically found in ambulatory health care services and hospitals.

4. Pharm tech careers are on the rise

With an aging population and a growing number of individuals needing both medical and pharmaceutical care, the pharmacy industry is certainly not slowing down anytime soon. The BLS predicts pharm tech jobs will increase 20 percent through 2022, which is much higher than the average growth rate of 11 percent.

5. There are requirements you’ll typically have to meet

Requirementsfor pharmacy technicians generally include:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Criminal background check
  • Formal education or training
  • Exam
  • Fees
  • Continuing education
  • Some states and employers require certification

6. You can work in a variety of settings

“Pharmacy techs operate in a wide variety of practice settings,” Jimienz explains. These work environments can include: drugstores, grocery stores, community pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, rehab centers, the military, mail service pharmacies or other medical facilities.

7. You’ll need excellent interpersonal skills

Both technicians and pharmacists must be willing and able to interact with customers in a professional manner. Customers may have questions about their prescription, over-the-counter drugs or supplements that will need to be referred to the pharmacy staff. The pharm tech will need exceptional listening skills to determine if the question is one a pharmacist needs to answer.

8. One small mistake can have serious ramifications

Working in a pharmacy means you’re providing critical medications for individuals. This means your actions could literally mean life or death for patients. Ultimately, the pharmacist is responsible for assuring that all medications are filled properly. However, the pharm tech should also be detail-oriented and aware of the serious consequences that can result from filling a prescription incorrectly.

9. Math & chemistry concepts come in handy

Your math teacher was right — you will use that stuff in the real world! Both pharmacists and pharm techs utilize math abilities on a daily basis to ensure they have the right dosage and measurements and chemistry knowledge to ensure that compounds are mixed correctly for your patients.

10. You’ll spend most of the work day on your feet

You’ll want to get comfortable shoes if you decide to work in a pharmacy, because you’ll be on the move. Whether you’re checking inventory, filling prescriptions or interacting with customers, there’s not a lot of down-time. You should expect to be standing most of the day.

Now you know…

Working in a pharmacy is a wonderful way to contribute to the growing healthcare field and make a positive impact on your career. Not only are you helping others achieve better health and quality of life, but you are entrusted with the critical role of providing them the means to do so.

Now that you know you’re up for the challenge of working in a pharmacy, you’re probably wondering how to get started. Check out the Rasmussen College pharmacy technician certificate page to learn more about making your next move!

*Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.

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Megan Ruesink

Megan is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She hopes to engage and intrigue current and potential students.

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