Should I work at a retail or a hospital pharmacy as a Pharmacy Technician?

Most Pharmacy Technicians are employed by retail pharmacies. If you like the retail environment, then you are where you need to be, however, if after a few years of experience, you think you would like a change of scenery, then a position at a hospital pharmacy may be of interest to you. Typically, the salary of a hospital Pharmacy Technician is about 20% higher than those working in retail pharmacies.

As some states require certification and some do not, it is relatively easy to obtain a position in the retail sector, such as in the big box store pharmacy or the smaller discount chain drug stores. Most retailers provide on-the-job training to help you learn their computer systems and procedures, however, your online professional certificate program training will be most beneficial and be impressive to all employers.

Within the retail setting, your usual duties will be split between working as an assistant to the Pharmacist on duty and waiting on customers. You will also be asked to stock shelves and possibly work in other departments, if needed.

If your goal is to work within the hospital sector, you will definitely need to complete a training program, pass your certification test, as well as, obtain one to two years of work experience, most likely in the retail field. In a hospital pharmacy, you will be expected to have a higher level of knowledge about medications and medical terminology than that required in the retail environment. If your state allows, you will also be expected to work independently as you mix nutritional supplements, medications and IV fluids, however, you will still be under the supervision of a licensed Pharmacist.

If you think you were busy in a retail pharmacy, just wait till you begin work in a hospital pharmacy. The typical hospital Pharmacy Tech can fill up to over 1000 single dose medication requests per shift to give to nurses for their patients compared to filling up to 200 full prescriptions per day in a retail pharmacy. In a hospital pharmacy, you generally will not deal directly with patients, however, some hospital pharmacies do fill prescriptions for patients that are being dismissed, as well. Insurance issues are also generally handled by the insurance department within the hospital.

So, as with every career choice, there are good points and bad. The retail pharmacy is a great way for the new Pharmacy Tech to gain very valuable work experience, however, if you decide to eventually work your way into a hospital pharmacy, the position will provide you with a higher salary. Hospital pharmacies also usually will provide you with better health insurance benefits and vacation time. On the other hand, retail pharmacies are not usually open at night, unlike hospital pharmacies that must be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide for their patients. In addition, retail work is less stressful than that of the hospital sector and also offers a more flexible work schedule.

As you work as a Pharmacy Technician in either setting, you may be inspired to continue your education and become a Pharmacist. As a Pharm Tech, you will have a head start on others, however, you will need to earn your PharmD degree, which may take up to six years plus a year as an intern under a licensed Pharmacist. Finally, you will need to pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) test. No doubt, your experience as a Pharmacy Technician will help you along the way.

If you would like to learn more about this field, please see our choices for the Best Online Pharmacy Technology Certificate Programs.