"Why becoming a certified pharmacy technician is not worth your time"

The biggest grip I have with the pharmacy technician field is that its so misleading to people. Most people are sold a bill of goods about this field thinking that once they complete a pharmacy technician training program or course they will have a real rewarding career. However this is not the case. I will tell you why ?

First, let's start off with the definition of a pharmacy technician. I will translate this title so it's easily understood. Pharmacy technician = Pharmacy aide/assistant/slave to the pharmacist on duty, by this I mean you will end up doing the grunt work of a pharmacist.

For example, counting pills, anwsering phones, entering prescription data into the computer, performing drive thru service, stocking the pharmacy with bottles, caps, bags,etc and ringing of the register.

I just outlined the main job duties associated with this field along with standing on your feet for 6 -8 hours a day.

You will deal with sick/angry/rude customers, let me translate another keyword. The word fast-paced environment means high stress, just so you are aware of that catch phrase.

Secondly, lets talk about the salary, thats right the measly salary they want to pay you for all this gruntwork.

Starting salaries:

$9.00 - $10.00 an hour for unexperienced, unlicensed pharmacy technicians

$11.00 - $12.00 an hour for certified/registered pharmacy technicians.

When you really think about it, isn't this what unskilled labor earns and this is without all the paperwork such as sitting for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam and registering with the state you want to practice in.

Think about the salary long and hard, it's under $20.00 an hour with no room for advancement. Trust me you can't raise a family off of pharmacy technician wages.

Nevertheless support yourself without working insane hours. In most states you need to earn at least $15.00 an hour to afford health benefits and barely support yourself.
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Yes! Absolutely.... I passed this exam based on my experience when the exam first came into existence.  I was however a person who always made it a point to continually educate myself and learn from others around me. ( this was before everyone had a home computer) I studied from package inserts & bought calculation workbooks from a nursing student at a yard sale! I also studied with Rx interns. I was highly motivated.  I later parlayed my retail experience ( 1200 scripts a day store) to a position learning to mix IV’s ... and finally to a more clinical position in a home infusion pharmacy.  While my classmates were paying HUGE school loans off... I had bought my own home and was self sufficient.   Later I did return to finish a college degree, but frankly that was because I married and no longer HAD to work. I was much better off monetarily on the path I was on.

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Mar 27, 2020 Solution
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I would disagree, I know techs who started at 15.50 and the max is 22.50. Of course this is in inpatient pharmacy, however it’s not hard to get into these positions. I got this job with no experience and no certification! All on the job training and a certification requirement within a year. Hospitals are hurting for staff and techs too! The pessimism here is unreal! You’re doing a job that is so important for patients, and you know when you get into it roughly what you’re going to be making. I guess lesson learned for you, don’t become a pharmacy technician if you don’t care about your job. 

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Feb 7, 2020 Solution
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I would disagree, I work as a pharmacy technician in inpatient pharmacy. No certification, no experience and I’m getting trained on the job and have to get my certification within a year. I met someone I barely knew who talked to me about the job and I applied and got it based on my other healthcare experience. It was easy for me to get in and others that they have hired with no experience or certification they hired solely on their personality and willingness to learn. I think people need to stop being so negative! 

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Meh... you complain about people complaining... isn't that just complaining as well. Doesn't change the fact that Pharmacy Technician pay has stayed around the same for almost a decade now while most other unskilled jobs have increased in pay. Wife was a tech for 10 years before deciding to go to Pharmacy school of which she will be graduating this May and making bank compared to what she used to pay, deservingly so. The average tech pay in Texas for example is around $15. And that really means $15 for hospital position and $10~12 for retail start pay. Being that for retail you need to be certified with two entities and maintain bi-yearly education that is not a reasonable pay. Hospital goes even further requiring a third certification and once again not a reasonable pay. When you have a regular retail location such as Target starting people of at $12 with no education, experience, no certifications you can see why this is an issue. Retail tech start pay for the CVS my wife was a tech at 10+ years ago was $10ish and now ten years on is still $10ish. When you pay this people so low for such a crucial job you end up with an unqualified pool of employees. Sorry but just my personal thought. Sure it is not okay to just complain but to put people concerned about their unreasonable income is just as bad. So stop being so high and mighty and take a peak at the actual facts. Next time you are paying a visit to a local hospital keep in mind that the IV medication that will probably be saving your life will be made by a happy qualified tech or an unhappy unqualified tech.

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Feb 2, 2020 Solution
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Agree. I've never seen so many people whining and complaining about something in my entire life. You have to do your homework which means researching what you think you want to do. You should also be willing to move to get a better job and accept the fact that not every job pays well.

If you went to school and feel cheated, well, that's on you for failing to research it. I decided to give it a try in addition to other tech jobs that fit my college degree. Don't limit yourself. Now, to even take the PCTB, they want you to have attended a program or have 500 hours of work experience. I met a former pharmacy tech the other night who went to school and did the job for 6 years before deciding it was a waste of time. She's now back working as a clerk at Walgreens. :facepalm:

She griped about how badly pharmacists treated her. Again folks, that's on you. The younger you are the more likely you are to be pushed around and to crack under pressure. At my age? I'd shrug it off, complain, or quit. That's where age and experience come in. She said there were no jobs. She didn't look very well before returning to a much lower paying position! There's no future in it, she said. There's money to be made if you know where to look and have a plan! As long as I make good money with benefits I don't care about a job title.

It seemed like everything out of her mouth was negative and she came across as slow on the uptake. A person like that is going nowhere. Today, if you aren't working with computers and software, you're only going to qualify for low level jobs going forward. Even pharmacies have robots now in many hospitals. They aren't close to replacing humans (they count pill fragments for example as whole pills) but they're here. Go to college and spend time and money on working with software. Bottom line: If you don't live in a city with a high demand for pharmacy techs paying well above minimum and if you don't have a lot of work experience, find another profession. 

 

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Jan 26, 2020 Solution
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Go into nursing instead. It isn’t easy and you have to pay your dues, but it’s worth it in the end. I started out as a pharmacy tech and then later surgical tech. My first tech job paid me 9.80 an hour. 22 years later I’m making 48.71 an hour and I still have my ADN only. 

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Jan 26, 2020 Solution
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I'm sorry I have to agree and disagree. I'm a Certified Pharmacy Technician. At my last job, I made 20.57 hr. This job was Long Term Care Pharmacy. I worked Overnights, and sat down for 10 hrs a day. I worked 7days on and 7 days off. I wish I never lefted. I only left for school. I wanted to further my education. So I say this,  yes you will make less money starting off in the field but if your good at your job you will find a better paying job. Everything takes time. 

 

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Jan 17, 2020 Solution
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CE credits cost more money to pharmacy techs. Ptcb is getting too greedy in their fees. Ever since they add Nabp to track ce credits, its a mess. College credits is not coming up nabp.

Phone Number hours is what employers are hiring for pharm tech. Its hard to live on part time wages. Two or more jobs to make a livable wage.
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Dec 12, 2019 Solution
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Agreed. I'm Corpsman in the Navy, so I've been blessed working all over the hospital and get paid awesome for what I do. But if I had to do it in the Civilian world, I would hate everything about it. The money is crap out there with regards to Medical. Pharmacist are just as dispensable now, the pressure to complete quotas and extra work outside of a 40hr work week is trash. The medical field is not all the glam like on TV. Even Doctors,nurses & all the rest hate their jobs, on depression meds, divorced, with their own financial problems connect to an expensive education. Plenty of excellent paying jobs with the right education or vocation.

Leave the Medical field for diehard altruistic person.

Anything less than $30/hr is trash. You want a job with a high ceiling for growth and personal profit.
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Nov 15, 2019 Solution
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Agreed. I'm Corpsman in the Navy, so I've been blessed working all over the hospital and get paid awesome for what I do. But if I had to do it in the Civilian world, I would hate everything about it. The money is crap out there with regards to Medical. Pharmacist are just as dispensable now, the pressure to complete quotas and extra work outside of a 40hr work week is trash. The medical field is not all the glam like on TV. Even Doctors,nurses & all the rest hate their jobs, on depression meds, divorced, with their own financial problems connect to an expensive education. Plenty of excellent paying jobs with the right education or vocation.

Leave the Medical field for diehard altruistic person.
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Nov 15, 2019 Solution
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I Really hate to see some of these comments and spelling errors ( especially by Pharmacists), however if anyone wants to know how to be a Pharmacy Tech and enjoy it, please read on. I have been in Pharmacy off and on for 15 years, consistent the last 6. Retail is not fun and it takes the right kind of person to do it. I am not one of those people. I have found my passion in emergency medicine and work for a hospital. I started off in Central Pharmacy filling med machines, making IVs, running stat meds, etc. Is it stressful? ABSOLUTELY...but any 24 hour department in a hospital is. Bottom line is our patients don't want to be here, but they have to be and we are here to help them. Pharmacists can't do their job without the tech and the tech cant do their job without the Pharmacist. I gladly bust my butt for our patients and for my pharmacists, because at the end of the day, we are here for someone's spouse, parent, child, friend, ect. We are caring for someone's someone. Retail isn't my favorite, but it a great place to start. You learn so much but for me, the hospital is where I belong. I have since been promoted and work for our ER as a Pharmacy Tech coordinator. I started in retail at a whopping $7 something an hour back in 2005... I now make over $20 an hour. If you're in the business for the right reasons, it can be very rewarding. We save patients every day and while I may not have been the one on the table giving CPR, I still paly a role in saving lives. I also want to note that I did not go to school for this. All of my training has been on the job training. I studied to get my CPhT at home on my own. I honestly think going to school for it is a waste of money, but a classroom setting might be better for some. I encourage everyone interested to give it a chance and know that you don't have to be stuck in retail. There are compounding pharmacies, long term care pharmacies, specialty pharmacies, hospitals... Don't limit yourself.
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you guys all need to really stop making every job seem not worth it every job i find you all trash it, peoples have hopes and stuff and you just mess it up stop with the negativity i have and uncle with three kids and hes a single parent and makes it through for all his children with this job in others shut up
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Part of what you say is true. But not entirely, since the hospitals will pay $18-20/hr. for someone with no experience. Granted...you still couldn’t live by yourself without that salary. But it’s better than the salaries of a lot of other positions (consider that 2/3rd of the positions out there in the job market pay less then $20/hr...). It’s the retail pharmacies that pay the salary that’s being described here...
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The jobs do look busy I do not work under here but was curious about the job since I am a forever patient with a disease. I do apologize for being one of those angry rude sick people but at the same time my medications are very expensive need them to live and I am opposed to expensive medication people with the same disease as me have died for not being able to afford it. Every where I hear pharmacy makes a lot of extra $ from expensive medications maybe just the pharmacists from what I’m hearing here. I doubt anyone will admit there is extra money going in. I just wanted to bring awareness to why some of us are angry some of us have nobody to trust because America wasn’t build to keep people healthy but to just make $ literally that’s how our government runs it’s a matter of fact I’m just happy to share why and bring awareness. I already know not everyone is going to want to hear this but it is the truth and the unfortunate thing is our country doesn’t have to care about health because most people don’t get sick or serious life threatening scary extreme illnesses that take away normal life living until everyone gets older like middle age is usually when these chronic illness happen. It’s not your job to care about us you have so many different kinds of patients. We just have a low quality of life please try to understand that once a real sickness disease occurs it is like having a disability and that is very hard and debilitating don’t blame the sick for being unhappy it is the government that should be blamed but if not then there’s nothing that can be done and that’s just the way it is. I hope this brings insight about customers. Some of us have very difficult diseases literally wouldn’t know how insane they can be unless maybe if you had it yourself some are extremely difficult to take care of 24/7 no breaks that could drive anyone crazy. Not qualified for disability as well and everything revolving the disease and lifestyle can get very expensive quick.
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Aug 4, 2019 Solution
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I wouldn't say NEVER trust a program. The Cleveland Clinic offers a $1500 18-week /online/hands on class. You get to learn and try out quite a few different aspects of being a Pharmacy Tech. Hone your IV making skills, check to see if the phones and counting pills are for you, maybe you want to work in a Surgery Center like me, try your hand in Oncology, is a Pharmacy buyer your game, how about Automation? Plenty of opps in Pharmacy. The class teaches you so much. With a 99% hire rate, I believe it to be worth it.
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This is a pretty old string I thought I would update my answer. I have been a tech for 17 years. Started out at 8 something. I'm up to 23 now. I get LOTS of opportunity for OT. Actually only a few times in 17 was I not able to find an OT situation. I have worked for two companies. My current Hospital is HUGE so I can always find somewhere to pick. My day to day job is sitting at a desk in my own office. I do not have a RPH on-site. My boss is a Pharm-D and probably the coolest boss I've ever had. There are tons of jobs in the pharmacy field. Retail is one of them but in my opinion it is the worst. A earlier post talked about on your feet being a slave to the RPH. Much of that is true for retail and even for some inpatient. I think being a Tech is like almost any job, you excel at your job and you will be rewarded. I pulled close to 60 last year. That is pretty good for a RX Tech!
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I don't see anything on this thread about anyone becoming a certified pt past the age of 60 and actually getting a good paying job. I was a college professor of Spanish for many years so I'm an educated person, if that's worth anything (and might be able to use my Spanish ability in something new). I'm also considering certified medical assisting but the idea of handling blood and other bodily fluids gives me the willies, but suppose I would get used to it. Any insights would be helpful. Also, what level of math do you need to know to get into a pharm tech program?
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Jul 20, 2019 Solution
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anonymous
Just thought I'd add my experience to this thread.

I never went to a pharmacy tech school. I began working in a pharmacy as a cashier and just gained enough experience to pass the exam.

I worked in retail pharmacy for 8 years and with the ExCPt certification, I made a max of $15/hour.

I now work as a pharmacy tech for an insurance company and with my PTCB certification I make $22/hour.

I think if you explore, there's more jobs for techs than just counting pills.
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I'm always sorry to read of people's poor experiences in the pharmacy technician field. I've recently retired after 40 years as a pharmacy technician.

I got my training in the United States Air Force. After my apprenticeship I worked at medical center pharmacies in Texas, Washington DC, Japan and Korea. I saw so many interesting things and people and got to do things not possible in civilian life. Computers were just becoming to be a thing in pharmacies at that time so the Air Force sent me to computer training.

When I got out of the military after five years I was in a very good employment position with all of training and knowledge. Because I already had training in pharmacy automation I continued to focus on that. At one point in my career the computer vendor for our pharmacy hired me away to work for them developing and testing software modules for their system. I also traveled all over the United States demoing, selling and installing the system. Again, so many cool experiences were had! By this time I was supporting and family and doing quite well.

I finished my last 18 years at a medical center pharmacy. A large percentage of my duties were related to computers and automation. Whenever new technology was introduced in the pharmacy, either in regard to dispensing units, robotics or IV preparation I made myself indispensable. It's what I loved doing and I got pretty good at it. The vendors always asked for me because I made their jobs easier. I was made several offers to go to work for them, but by this time in my life I was trying to cut back on hours to be with my family more.

At the end of my career I was making $50,000 a year with good benefits. My wife was making more as a newspaper reporter but in 2008 she was given a separation package. I was busier than ever.

So the job is basically what you make it. The more you put in, the more you get out.
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May 24, 2019 Solution
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Pharmacy tech is merely a stepping stone to better positions. I've maintained my certification since 2006 and have no completed degree but at 33 have navigated to a successful career with no debt, a good salary, and plenty of opportunity to move up.

I started out in retail with Walgreens and left after a few years due to the lack of available hours, insufficient pay ($10.50/hr.), and due to mismanagement.

I went to a mail order pharmacy where I was guaranteed 40 hours with some mandatory OT requirements which depended on the department. The OT requirements and realization that I made as much as a CPht as I would as biomed tech for a hospital resulted in me dropping out of college.
After working in several departments I switched my mindset to work smart not hard which resulted in landing a process improvement analyst position. As an entry level analyst you start around $48,000. Two years later and i'm now a consultant which start out around $70,000.

Best culmination of advice I can pass on would be to always be consistent, never let anger get the best of you, keep a positive mindset, use your intelligence to work hard not smart not hard, always defer to logic when in doubt, absorb information from pharmacist consults, read drug pamphlets, take notes, take self learning initiative, avoid management paths (it's a bottle neck involving too much backstabbing), don't date coworkers, avoid accumulating necessary college debt, recognize companies value experience over degrees (especially if they are irrelevant for your work), surround yourself with those whom you wish to emulate (successful people); and learn from them.

To conclude I recommend the following:
Go retail and stick with it if you want to be a pharmacist.
Go hospital if you want to advance to a nurse or more. Expect it to be extremely hard to get into.
Go mail order if you intend to get into business. In most cases will need retail or hospital experience first.
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May 18, 2019 Solution
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I have been a tech for 8 years and was hired at a hospital full-time with benefits straight out of school. Perhaps it's because I live in Sacramento, but our retail technicians up here make between $12-17/hour and hospital techs start around $24/hr. I, myself, am above the $30/hour mark. So, don't necessarily believe that it's a dead end career.
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FYI - my daughter is a pharm. tech and started with CVS at 10.40 to start, after 90 days got 11.00. After one year is now making 13.30 hour. She went to a tech college and is not certified but is registered. Talk to your store manager. She also works for CVS in Florida and we are the lowest pay state to work in that I know of. Good luck
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Feb 4, 2019 Solution
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I have a question, when you say "prestigious hospital" are you taking about Kaiser? Because as of now I work at Kaiser SSF as an EVS aide and I'm considering going to pharmacy tech school this February or March, however seeing some of these posts is kind of deterring me a little. Could I trouble you for a little advice?
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Jan 24, 2019 Solution
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I'm curious as to which pharmacies will hire you if you only have a ExCPT over a PTCB. Both give you the same title of C.PhT but I hear the PTCB is highly regarded. jobghana.blogspot.com/2019/01/ministry-of-education-job-vacancy.html :I can only take the ExCPT, but if Walgreens, CVS, Kmart or other retailers won't hire because I wouldn't have a PTCB than I don't think I'm going to waste any time on pursuing this field.
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Jan 24, 2019 Solution
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I'm curious as to which pharmacies will hire you if you only have a ExCPT over a PTCB. Both give you the same title of C.PhT but I hear the PTCB is highly regarded. <a href ="jobghana.blogspot.com/2019/01/ministry-of-education-job-vacancy.html">Jobs in Ghana</a> :I can only take the ExCPT, but if Walgreens, CVS, Kmart or other retailers won't hire because I wouldn't have a PTCB than I don't think I'm going to waste any time on pursuing this field.
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Jan 24, 2019 Solution
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Can I get a straight answer on one thing: Can the pharmacy tech exam be taken without going through a formal training program? I have an extensive health-care background and could probably pass the test using my past experience and by reviewing the old exams.
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After graduating from the community college program (which was no cost for me thru BFET) and getting my license, I applied and interviewed at several places. Because I'm 62 and this is my "new" occupation, having no experience in pharmacy and worse, no customer service experience at all, I looked like a terrible candidate. Still, I went online to apply at Pharmaca for a tech position and happened to see they were also looking for a a part-time Rx delivery driver position. Well, I applied for that job over the tech job and was hired at $16.50/hr. Having my tech license gave me an edge because now I not only do delivery but customer service, packaging and filling prescriptions when I'm not on the road. If I wanted to transition into a full-time tech position it'd be easy now, but I actually love being a delivery driver/roving CPhT between the stores. If you're just starting out or not planning on being a pharm tech for life, I think there are a lot of peripheral jobs like mine that don't come with the stress and pay OK.
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It can be a job or a career. It can be whatever you make of it. I am an RN and I teach evening classes at our community college. We have agreements with multiple PBMs where our students are hired as Data Entry Technicians starting out at $15.00/hr. Some of my students have worked there for less than two years and they are already supervisors and making over $20.00/hr. Also our local grocery store starts their certified technicians out at $13.50/hr. At the hospital I work at, there are advanced technicians who work with Chemo drugs, technicians that work with pediatric drugs only, and there are technicians that make rounds with the floor Pharmacists. You can limit yourself, or you can have the attitude that the sky is the limit. I know that the Medicine Shoppe where we fill our medications, the manager of the pharmacy is NOT a Pharmacist. She has been there for 20 years it is absolutely her career. The only the limits are the ones you set.
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Nov 20, 2018 Solution
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I've worked in many retail pharmacies over the years now you have to be certified. What is the outlook for a certified tech in Michigan. I took the exam cold turkey missed passing by 8pts. Just wondering if I should go to school for this or not due to my age or to be (58) will I get employed. I want to know if it's worth it or not and I need an income of $12 or more an hour in order to be able to survive.
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$12/hour is too low for someone with years of experience. I am glad you was able to work in pharmacy technician. It couldn't pay rent in Washington. Rent is almost over 2k monthly in Washington.I had my pharmacy tech license for 7 years. I went on interviews. I had no job. I couldn't afford to volunteer for free. Pharmacy has insurance liability on why why almost don't take volunteers unless its pharmacist schools. I gave up pharmacy tech career. Its funny that I can get job offers for CNA, but not pharmacy tech. Its hard to make a living working part time as pharmacy tech position. In the meantime, I work for Amazon. At least their pay is going up to $15 hourly in November.
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I was a technician compounding in a pharmacy for nine years. I was making $23 an hour compounding harsh chemicals for patients. Then, I got laid off due to pharmacy closure. Pharmacies across the US started mail order businesses, and the wages for technicians took a total dive. Now, with nearly a decade of experience, I am being offered jobs making less than people serving fast food. Fred Meyer offered me $12/hour. Are you kidding me? We are skilled workers filling prescriptions for your cancer patient mothers and sick children. Do you really want to pay someone like that $12/hour? Until pharmacies begin honoring the training we go through, it will not be worth the money. I moved on from that profession and will likely not relicense next year because there is no future in it unless you spend another $100,000 to become a pharmacist.
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Okay I think this thread is ridiculously stupid. I agree with the initial post, programs make the job misleading.
Becoming a CPhT is not a long term-career, its more of a short term job, something to have in the meanwhile as you work towards something else (eg. pharmaceuticals, becoming a pharmacist etc..)
FOR ANYONE TAKING A PHARM TECH PROGRAM DONT DO IT unless your unearthly stupid or want to spend tons of money and graduate with afat debt.
I just took the PTCB a couple weeks ago and passed on my first try, didn't take a program, probably know just as much as the ones that did. You're probably asking how? I SELF STUDIED- for 2 weeks with one book.
So please, save yourself the money and debt, don't do a program, just self study.
And again people. this is NOT a career. I am a full time college student who will soon be working part time as a CPhT to use the money on school expenses and what not, where my long term goal is becoming a pharmacist .
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Oct 24, 2018 Solution
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Ok, a lot of people are forgetting the most important aspect... and its called automation when i was a intern at a Walgreens they brought up a machine to count pills and bascially do hald of the work of the Tech, 6 years have passed and this machines have become better and better, this is one of the jobs that most likely will be almost fully automated.

Must also mention that anyone interested especially the young and naive listen to the warnings of the most experienced workers this jobs has various downsides.. low pay, need to be certified, customer service and to me the most important that crushed my dreams, you are not helping no one many are "legal" addicts as i call them, many take pills like they are candy. this is Big Pharma they are customers nothing more nothing less and you are a cog in their wheel.

The experience that broke my heart was in Walgreen in Puerto Rico i wont mention the town... this customer had throat cancer he was dying and coulnt pay for his analgesic Walgreen turned him away.. about 2 months later i switched to a community farmacy and i saw the same patient and this time since it was community not a part of a evil corp, the Pharmacist in charge gave him the pills free of charge, only time i felt good in a pharmacy,he later died.

Another experience i had there was this female older lady(about 60-65) who i am not kidding took like 10-12 different pills..She died later one..i studied in a community college so i talked whit people from other courses and i had friends as embalmers and being a small town news travel quickly, so i told my embalmer friend about this lady(we knew her name) and he told me when they open her stomach to take out fluid and other stuff her whole stomach lining was stuck whit pills like macabre mosaic.... we knew she died from taking so many unnecesary pills since she complained a lot about stomach problems.

Certified... i seriously dont know why we need a certification that job can be done by anyone.
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Oct 22, 2018 Solution
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There are SOOOO many jobs for techs here in Pittsburgh. Retail, hospital, long-term care, mail order, PBM,...and companies like Highmark hire Pharmacy Technicians in their billing departments. ALL of these jobs are over $15 an hour. I don't know what it's like where where you guys are located, but if it's out in the boonies, it's hard to get a job no matter what field you're in.