"One of the most challenging aspects [of the job] comes down to maintaining knowledge on all the changes that occur within the field," says Mike Johnston, chairman and CEO of the National Pharmacy Technician Association. "Pharmacy practice changes on a weekly basis with new generics and new drugs." Another challenge is interacting with patients who are "not always feeling their best," he says. "The majority of your customers that you're going to be dealing with are sick – whether it be a cold or sinus infection or a much more serious, chronic condition. So it takes a lot of compassion and empathy."
Most employers require veterinary technicians to have an associate degree in veterinary technology earned through a program that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Membership in professional organizations like the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) can also enhance job opportunities by providing job listings, networking opportunities through local chapters and information about continuing education (www.navta.net).
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.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for pharmacy technicians in 2016 was $30,920, which is $14.86 per hour. Salaries can range depending on where you work. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,370. The highest 10 percent, more than $45,710, with the highest earners typically working in general medical center and surgical hospitals.
A degree program is generally two years and results in a full academic degree, an associate’s degree (AA), that will distinguish your credentials and provide a foundation on which to build. That is, when you complete an AA, you will have a transcript of accredited courses that can apply to a full, four-year degree later on. Even if you never return to college again, having a full degree will be worthwhile. The additional courses will inform you as a person and professional, expanding your ability to communicate and understand your patients.
Pharmacy technicians work under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist and perform many pharmacy-related functions. They refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist. Pharmacy techs work in a wide variety of practice settings, including community pharmacies, hospitals, the military, in-home health care settings, long term care facilities, mail service pharmacies, managed health care organizations, and educational programs.
Good job opportunities are expected for full-time and part-time work, especially for technicians with formal training or previous experience. Job openings for pharmacy technicians will result from the expansion of retail pharmacies and other employment settings, and from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.
CPhT is the abbreviation for Certified Pharmacy Technician. The CPhT works directly under a pharmacist, R.Ph or a PharmD. (An R.Ph is a Registered Pharmacist, who is a licensed pharmacist in that state and may have either a bachelor's degree in pharmacy or a Pharm.D.) The profession has different educational and certification requirements in different locales, set by each state's Board of Pharmacy. For example, in order to remain licensed, all Illinois pharmacy technicians hired on Jan 1, 2008 (and after) will need to be certified within 2 years of registration with the Division of Professional Regulation.
In a clinical practice setting, such as your local veterinary hospital, veterinary technicians handle many of the same responsibilities that nurses and other professionals perform for physicians – and, like veterinarians, they are trained to work with several species of animals. They are trained to: obtain and record patient case histories; collect specimens and perform laboratory procedures; provide specialized nursing care; prepare animals, instruments, and equipment for surgery; assist in diagnostic, medical, and surgical procedures; expose and develop radiographs (x-rays); advise and educate animal owners; supervise and train practice personnel; and perform dental prophylaxes.
A. Skills covered in the Veterinary Technician Associate Degree Program include fundamentals of pharmacy and pharmacology, nursing, anesthesia, surgical nursing, labroratory procedures, imaging, laboratory animal procedures, avian, exotic, small mammal, and fish procedures, and other veterinary basics. College level courses also build a well-rounded skill set in areas such as computer and information literacy, written and interpersonal skills, humanities, liberal arts, math, and sciences.
Veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants both work in animal hospitals and clinics, but that is where the similarities between these two careers end. They differ in both their job duties and in their education and training requirements. While assistants need only a high school or equivalency diploma, technicians must complete a two-year veterinary technology training program. In addition to their formal training, they usually need a state-issued license.
The CVMA’s AHT/VT Program Accreditation Committee (AHTVTPAC) identifies and certifies animal health technology and veterinary technician education programs whose graduates are considered to be competent to successfully complete the National Veterinary Technician Exam, and assist veterinarians in clinical practice. The Committee encourages further development of such programs in Canada.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredits veterinary technology programs throughout the United States and Canada. Most AVMA-accredited programs lead to an Associate degree after two years but some lead to a four-year Baccalaureate degree. Technicians with Baccalaureate degrees usually receive higher salaries and greater level of job responsibilities.
Mail order pharmacies present an opportunity to service a wider range of customers than local community pharmacies. For the pharmacy technician, this translates into good pay, benefits and the possibility of a flexible work schedule. Perhaps the most solitary of the three workplaces, mail order is great if you’re looking for pharmacy technician jobs where you can work independently or behind-the-scenes.
Top Tech is an annual program designed to identify, recognize, and reward Ryder’s top performing technicians. Eligible participants for the award are selected from Ryder’s team of more than 5,000 U.S. and Canadian-based technicians and are measured on technical training qualifications, outstanding customer service performance, and quality workmanship. After advancing through three increasingly demanding rounds of challenging written and hands-on tests, seven finalists compete for the top honors at the Top Tech Competition.