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Pharmacy Tech - Career Opportunities

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An aging population and increase in demand for prescription drugs are helping to make a career as a pharmacy technician a very secure choice. In fact, employment of pharmacy techs is expected to increase 32 percent by 2016, according to a 2008-2009 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Are you ready for a career in this growing field?

"There are numerous factors propelling demand for medication," says Richard Nunez, department chair and certified pharmacy technician at Everest College in San Francisco. “First, Americans are living longer than ever and need more medical treatments. Advances in medical technology are also producing more prescription drugs. The combination of these two factors is putting a real strain on the pharmaceutical industry to meet demand.”

There were 3.5 billion prescriptions filled in 2008, up from 3.4 billion in 2006, and that is expected to continue to rise every year, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

Nunez links this growth of the pharmaceutical industry to demographic changes. "The growing need for prescription drugs is one of the long-term side effects of the aging baby-boom generation. The pharmaceutical industry is one of many industries in healthcare that is feeling the repercussions," says Nunez.

Nunez links this growth of the pharmaceutical industry to demographic changes. "The growing need for prescription drugs is one of the long-term side effects of the aging baby-boom generation. The pharmaceutical industry is one of many industries in healthcare that is feeling the repercussions," says Nunez.

"Pharmacy technicians are one way the profession is responding to this need for workers," he adds. "They really play a crucial role in a pharmacy. In many ways, the work of pharmacy technicians complements that of pharmacists. Pharmacy technicians help patients, explain dosages, update patient information, and help with labeling and filling prescriptions."

Pharmacy technicians are one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S. right now. According to the National Pharmacy Technician Association, more than 39,000 pharmacy technician jobs open up each year.

Yet with increased demand, Nunez explains that the role of pharmacy technicians is changing. "Pharmacists just do not have the time to do everything themselves. Pharmacy technicians have to step in to fill multiple roles," he says. Nunez explains that pharmacy technicians will begin to assume responsibilities for a range of tasks that were previously reserved for pharmacists or pharmacy aides.

"The profession has really had to develop in response to this need," says Nunez. "Pharmacy technicians are no longer seen as simply assistants to pharmacists, but as full-fledged pharmaceutical professionals."

Pharmacists have to focus more on patient care, and pharmacy technicians refer questions regarding prescriptions, drug information or health matters to them. Pharmacy technicians are responsible for measuring, recording and labeling medications, and they are also taking on more administrative duties, including updating patient profiles, preparing insurance claims and taking inventory of pharmacy stock.

As the responsibilities of pharmacy technicians grow, obtaining certification is also becoming more important. "Although pharmacy technicians have traditionally received on-the-job training, employers are increasingly looking for employees who have a prior professional degree," says Drew Jones, pharmacy program director and certified pharmacy technician at Everest College in City of Industry, Calif.

More importantly, Jones explains that better training could lead to more professional opportunities. "The shortage of pharmacists opens up opportunities for better-qualified pharmacy technicians to take on more responsibilities," says Jones.

"We recognize the importance of this career in helping keep Americans healthy. Pharmacy technicians have become a crucial part of the pharmacy team, and we really stress the career`s potential to our students. They come to us to be part of an accredited program, because they recognize the new opportunities the career offers for qualified employees," says Jones. (Courtesy of ARAcontent)

To learn more about career opportunities as a pharmacy technician, visit Everest College.


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