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Exploring Careers in Pharmacy: Pros and Cons of Becoming a Pharmacist or Pharmacy Technician

Young Female Pharmacists Working in a Pharmacy

Table of Contents

The pharmacy field offers a variety of career opportunities that are both rewarding and essential to healthcare. For many people, the pharmacy is the most accessible point of healthcare, providing essential medications and trusted advice without the need for an appointment.

Whether you’re contemplating becoming a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician, it’s important to understand the benefits and challenges of each role. This article provides a look at the pros and cons of these professions, to help you decide if a career in pharmacy is right for you.

The Stability of Careers in Pharmacy

Pharmacy careers, whether as a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician, are known for their stability and growth potential. With the healthcare sector continually expanding, the demand for skilled pharmacy professionals remains strong.

Pharmacists play a critical role in medication management and patient care, while pharmacy technicians support pharmacists in various capacities, ensuring the smooth operation of pharmacy services. Both roles are integral to the healthcare system, offering job security and opportunities for advancement.

Job Outlook

The outlook for pharmacy careers is promising, with both pharmacy technicians and pharmacists experiencing steady demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians have a median annual pay of $40,300 and a projected employment growth of 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, resulting in about 44,900 job openings each year. Pharmacists, with a median annual salary of $136,030, can expect employment to grow by 3 percent over the same period, leading to approximately 13,400 job openings annually.

Interested in becoming a Certified Pharmacy Technician?

The Pros and Cons of Becoming a Pharmacist

Pros of Becoming a Pharmacist

High Earning Potential: Pharmacists generally enjoy a high earning potential, with a median annual wage significantly above the national average. This financial stability is a significant advantage. 

Respected Profession: Pharmacists are highly respected within the healthcare community and among patients. Their expertise in medication management is crucial to patient health. 

Diverse Career Opportunities: Pharmacists can work in various settings, including community pharmacies, hospitals, clinical settings, research, academia, and the pharmaceutical industry. This diversity allows for career flexibility and growth. 

Patient Interaction: Pharmacists often interact directly with patients, providing counseling on medication use and health management, which can be personally fulfilling. 

Job Stability: The continuous need for healthcare services ensures a steady demand for pharmacists, providing long-term job security. 

Cons of Becoming a Pharmacist

Extensive Education Requirements: Becoming a pharmacist requires completing a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program, which involves significant time and financial investment. 

High Stress and Responsibility: Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring the accuracy and safety of medications, which can be stressful. They also often work long hours and must handle a high volume of patients. 

Continuing Education Requirements: To maintain licensure, pharmacists must regularly complete continuing education (CE) courses, which can be time-consuming. 

Market Saturation in Some Areas: In certain regions, the job market for pharmacists can be competitive, making it challenging to find positions in desired locations. 

The Pros and Cons of Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Pros of Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Shorter Training Period: Pharmacy technicians require less time to enter the workforce. Many programs can be completed in a year or less, and some positions offer on-the-job training. 

Lower Educational Costs: The cost of training for pharmacy technicians is significantly lower than that for pharmacists, making it an accessible career choice. 

Supportive Role: Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in various tasks, such as medication preparation and customer service, allowing them to contribute to patient care without the same level of responsibility. 

Growing Demand: The demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to grow, driven by an aging population. 

Flexible Work Environments: Pharmacy technicians can work in diverse settings, including retail pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and mail-order pharmacies. 

Cons of Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Lower Earning Potential: Pharmacy technicians generally earn less than pharmacists. While the job provides stability, the earning potential is lower. 

Limited Career Advancement: Career advancement opportunities for pharmacy technicians are more limited compared to pharmacists. Advancement often requires additional education and certifications. 

Routine Tasks: The role of a pharmacy technician can involve repetitive tasks, such as counting pills and labeling bottles, which may not appeal to everyone. 

Continuing Education Requirements: Pharmacy technicians must often also complete continuing education to maintain certification. 

Workload and Stress: Pharmacy technicians often work in fast-paced environments and may face high workloads, particularly in retail settings, which can be stressful. 

Who Should Consider a Career in Pharmacy?

Ideal Candidates for Pharmacist Roles

Strong Academic Background: Prospective pharmacists should have a solid foundation in sciences such as chemistry and biology to succeed in a Pharm.D. program. 

Attention to Detail: Pharmacists must be meticulous and detail-oriented, ensuring the accuracy and safety of medications. 

Excellent Communication Skills: Effective communication with patients, healthcare providers, and colleagues is crucial for pharmacists. 

Problem-Solving Abilities: Pharmacists need to think critically and solve complex problems related to medication therapy and patient care. 

Compassion and Empathy: A genuine desire to help others and a compassionate attitude are important for pharmacists who work directly with patients. 

Ideal Candidates for Pharmacy Technician Roles

Organizational Skills: Pharmacy technicians need to be highly organized to manage inventory, prepare medications, and maintain accurate records. 

Technical Aptitude: Comfort with technology and the ability to learn new software and equipment are important for pharmacy technicians. 

Attention to Detail: Accuracy is crucial for pharmacy technicians, as they assist in preparing and dispensing medications. 

Team Player: Pharmacy technicians work closely with pharmacists and other healthcare professionals, so the ability to work well in a team is essential. 

Customer Service Skills: Pharmacy technicians often interact with patients and customers, requiring good communication and customer service skills. 

Skills Needed to Thrive in Pharmacy Professions

Essential Skills for Pharmacists

Clinical Knowledge: Pharmacists need extensive knowledge of medications, their uses, side effects, and interactions. 

Leadership: Pharmacists often take on leadership roles in pharmacy settings, overseeing pharmacy technicians and other staff. 

Analytical Thinking: The ability to analyze patient information and make informed decisions about medication therapy is crucial. 

Ethics and Integrity: Pharmacists must adhere to high ethical standards and ensure patient confidentiality and safety. 

Essential Skills for Pharmacy Technicians

Accuracy: Precision in preparing and dispensing medications is paramount. 

Interpersonal Skills: Pharmacy technicians need to communicate effectively with patients, pharmacists, and healthcare professionals. 

Multitasking: The ability to handle multiple tasks efficiently is important in fast-paced pharmacy environments. 

Technical Skills: Proficiency with pharmacy software, electronic health records, and other technology is necessary. 

The Role of freeCE in Your Pharmacy Career

Whether you choose to become a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician, continuous learning and staying updated with industry standards is essential. freeCE offers a wide range of accredited continuing education courses designed to meet the needs of pharmacy professionals.

With a low annual membership fee, freeCE provides unlimited access to high-quality courses, so you can remain compliant with state requirements and advance your professional knowledge.

Start your journey with freeCE today and experience the benefits of a trusted provider in pharmacy education.

Explore our student membership.

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