Since most certification and degree programs for pharmacy technicians require hands-on training through an externship or similar training, it’s important to determine what types of partnerships the school has secured for externships. Some schools offer externship placement as a courtesy to students, while others require students to seek out and apply for training on their own. In either situation, students are typically responsible for organizing their own transportation to the pharmacy, lab or other approved facility to complete this component of the program.
The final competition consists of 10 rigorous, hands-on skill tests including vehicle electronics, preventive maintenance, and air conditioning. The title of “Top Tech,” along with a cash prize, is awarded to the first place winner. All seven finalists receive cash prizes for their exemplary performance. Each year’s top seven finalists go on to represent Team Ryder at the TMC SuperTech National Technician Skills Competition, where they compete against the industry’s best technicians.
Clinics and animal hospitals have increased their use of vet techs to provide general care and lab work. This demand has led to a much faster than average projected job growth through 2026. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that veterinarians are employing veterinary technologists and technicians instead of veterinary assistants because of their higher skill level.
The number of jobs for veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to surge between 2016 and 2026. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of about 20 percent. Veterinary medicine is becoming a more advanced field, and qualified vets and vet techs are required for the specialized tasks of treating animals in clinics and animal hospitals. There's also particular demand for vet techs to work in public health, food and animal safety, and national disease control. The BLS attributes this growth to the increasing importance of pets to Americans, along with their willingness to pay for more advanced medical treatments.
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Practical training, such as completing an internship in a pharmacy, is also often required as part of training for employment as a pharmacy technician. Many employers favor pharmacy technicians to be certified with a national or local pharmacy board, such as by passing a standard exam and/or paying a fee. In the United States, voluntary certification is available through many private organizations. Elsewhere, such as in Tanzania and the United Kingdom, pharmacy technicians are required to be registered with the national regulatory council.
Pharmacy technicians’ primary responsibility is dispensing prescription medication, which requires great attention to detail. Pharmacy techs must be able to measure, mix, dose and dispense appropriate amounts of medication based on the pharmacist’s orders. They may also be involved with data entry tasks to update patient records and fill prescription orders.
Pharmacy technicians must take the lead in educating themselves on drug information and any major changes occurring in the industry. They may be required to read about drug studies, review pharmaceutical literature or produce reports about different prescription medications and dispensing activities. Since many work in busy retail drugstores or emergency rooms, they must also have strong organizational skills and be able to work in a fast-paced environment without making mistakes.
Attending a postsecondary education program with an emphasis in pharmacy technology is helpful but not required. Vocational schools and community colleges offer these programs, which usually last one year or less. They might teach mathematics commonly applied in pharmacies and help familiarize students with the names, uses and doses of medications. Best practices for dispensing medications, as well as pharmacy law and ethics, will also be covered. Some training programs include internships that allow students to obtain hands-on experience.
Although technicians have made great strides in their profession, these advancements have slowed primarily because of inconsistent state requirements and a lack of formal, standardized education for pharmacy technicians. Forty-five states and Washington, DC, have regulations establishing certification, licensure, or registration requirements for technicians, but these requirements vary from state to state. As of January 2017, just 24 of those states and the District of Columbia required national certification.3
Veterinary technologists and technicians must complete a postsecondary program in veterinary technology. In 2016, there were 221 veterinary technology programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Most of these programs offer a 2-year associate’s degree for veterinary technicians. Twenty-one colleges offer a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology.
Technicians work in a variety of settings, including laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices. Technicians who work in processing plants and agricultural settings may face noise from processing and farming machinery, extreme temperatures, and odors from chemicals or animals. They may need to lift and carry objects, and be physically active for long periods of time.