What is this career about?
A career at a pharmacy is about more than medications. There are insurance companies that need to be dealt with, communication with doctors’ offices are essential, as are following legal regulations and all privacy statutes. This is a job that has a lot of responsibility behind it, and while all of this is going on, excellent customer service needs to be maintained. Even if you never wish to go to medical school, there are cashier positions, technicians, and several other positions, making this a career path that is accessible to many more people than you might at first think.
What growth is likely?
If you look at the average rate of growth that is predicted for pharmacy technicians through 2024, you will see that this industry is expected to grow by 9 percent—which is quite a bit faster than the average career is growing. There are currently about 380,000 people employed in this field, and another 34,000 or so jobs are expected to be added over the coming years. This implies a lot of growth, and now is a better time than ever to begin here. Even if you start at the lowest levels, moving up in this career field will have a higher likelihood of happening if you begin before the expected growth takes place. For those that are currently seeking a new career path, this is an exciting bit of news.
The need for pharmacies is not going away. True, the nature of what pharmacies look like now is different than what they were 30 years ago, but this is a field where more and more people will be needed. The mom and pop pharmacy/drug store still exists, but these are not used nearly as often as the large scale chain, like CVS, or the pharmacy within a larger store model, such as what you find in a grocery store. There is currently some shifting toward online pharmacy orders with mail delivery, but this method is still experimental for now. But, even if this new pharmacy model does take off, there will still be a huge need for people to take, process, and ensure that prescriptions are filled and delivered accurately and legally.
Pharmacy technicians usually start out around $10 an hour, but on average, make about $14 per hour once experience is taken into account. Jobs that require less training will start out around $8 per hour and then adjust upward depending on the store and the length of time that you have been there. Pharmacists can expect to make low six figures a year at larger pharmacies with a big client base. Management positions can vary in pay depending on a number of factors, but they typically start at around $45,000 to $50,000 per year and then go upward from there. Chain stores offer nice employee benefits, such as medical, dental, and vision insurance policies and 401(k) retirement investing. Other benefits may be included, depending upon the company.
How to succeed?
You need to be able to thrive under strict working conditions if you want to be successful working in a pharmacy. As a necessity, there are strict legal regulations concerning the sale of medications. There are also tight guidelines that must be followed in under to ensure that insurance companies will approve and pay for the requested prescription. Technicians require training in store, and some pharmacies will require you to have at least basic college training in pharmacy tech. Being a quick learner, being able to follow complex directions and procedures, and having a positive attitude while doing all of this is important if you want to stay with your company and move up in seniority.
When applying for a pharmacy position, make sure that you highlight your resume features that show your ability to successfully do the following. Even if you have no pharmacy training, past jobs may have prepared you for more complex tasks like this, such as working in customer service, working in an office where tough filing tasks were needed, or something similar will all show that you are capable of handling the duties that you will be given as a pharmacy technician, even though you have never done this. Mentioning these things in an interview will also help you to show the hiring manager that you understand some of the subtle complexities of this position, and that you are prepared to handle them.
Most bigger companies will require you to fill out an application online. Smaller pharmacies of the mom and pop variety may still have paper applications, so be sure to look and act the part that you are applying for when you show up in person, even if it’s just to request an application. First impressions go a long way, and it would be awful to ruin your chances before you even show them what you are capable of.
Who should apply?
Because of legalities, you need to be 18 to work within a pharmacy. Certain positions, such as a pharmacist, need advanced schooling. Technicians should have some collegiate training, although some pharmacies do prefer to train technicians on the job instead. Other positions require a high school diploma. If you are looking for a management position, such as within a larger store that has a pharmacy department, such as a large grocery store or a drug store, having a business degree or experience in management is a must.
The people that will succeed the most in this career, and the people that should consider applying the most, are those that are able to take a challenge and see it as something that can be overcome most easily on a step-by-step approach, all while staying upbeat and cheerful in tense situations.