Veterinary technicians typically work wherever you find veterinarians — private practices, hospitals, research labs, and zoos. While they are clearly an important part of the professional veterinary team today, this hasn't always been the case. The first "animal technician" program was created in the 1960s, before then, veterinarians hired students or office workers to feed the animals, clean the cages, answer the phone, and do other routine tasks. As the field of animal health became more complex, a need arose for a well-educated staff that could take on greater responsibilities.
Texas does not require employees to be certified in order to perform the duties of a veterinary technician. However, many employers in the state prefer or require their employees to be certified through the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Before the Board will issue a license, candidates need to complete a course of study in veterinary technology that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE).
Medical records and health information technicians, commonly referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data. They ensure that the information maintains its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper files and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.
A mail-order pharmacy tech finds herself in a more office-like environment, filling prescriptions from a workstation amidst many other techs. The day of a mail-order pharmacy tech might start with meetings with pharmacists and other techs, from there, duties might include preparing compounds, maintaining the patient database, filling vials of medicine and inventory maintenance. Just because a mail-order tech is behind-the-scenes and doesn’t deal directly with the public it does not mean that their jobs are easy.
Specialized pharmacy technician roles offer an exciting career opportunity. Instead of working in a medical facility or drugstore, some pharmacy techs assist with infusion services in homes or nursing facilities. Prefer to work in a variety of settings? Travel pharmacy technicians take on short-term assignments in various parts of the country. If this sounds interesting, contact a health care agency who specializes in placing pharmacy technicians.
The scientific aspects of the job aren't the only things that vet techs need to prepare for, however. Tear says the hardest part of working as a technician is dealing with the relatively short lifespan of animals. “Our patients live anywhere from five to 15 years,” she says, “so there’s quite a bit of grief.” Another challenge is getting by on the salary, which, on average, skews quite a bit lower than comparable jobs in human medicine. “This isn’t a career you go into for the money," Tear adds.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 75% of pharmacy technicians in the U.S. work in a retail setting, such as an independently owned drugstore, a mass retailer chain, or a mail-order or online pharmacy. An additional 16% of pharmacy technician jobs were in hospitals, while others worked for nursing homes, pharmaceutical wholesalers, or the Federal Government. To work in any of these settings, certain requirements must be met. Requirements vary by state.
The median annual wage for pharmacy technicians in 2014 was $29,810, although this varies by state. Pharmacy technicians in Washington, Alaska, California, Hawaii and Oregon are the highest earners, on average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the highest-paying positions are available with federal, state and local government agencies, outpatient care centers, and scientific research and development organizations. Pharmacy techs that work in department stores and health and personal care stores typically make lower annual wages.
The need for pharmacy techs is increasing. Retailers are expanding their pharmaceutical services, and scientific advancements continue. In addition, prescription requests are likely to increase as more people in the U.S. have access to health insurance. Pharmacy technicians will also be needed as pharmacists continue to offer more direct patient care, such as administering flu shots. Read more about your pharmacy technician career.
Students interested in a more comprehensive educational experience can enroll in a pharmacy technician associate degree program. Although a degree is not required to apply for entry-level positions, some students choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree so they can advance in their careers and apply for jobs as a compounding lab technician, pharmacy service technician, pharmacy implementation specialist or similar roles. Earning an associate degree can also help a student prepare for a Bachelor of Pharmacy or a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
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