By: Elsa Vlahos
Have you ever seen an ad that reads:
“Pharmacy Technician wanted. No experience necessary, you pick your schedule. $14/hr”
I can assure you, you have not. Hospitals and retail pharmacies want experienced candidates. Those retail pharmacies that hire entry level candidates want to start them between minimum wage and $10/hr. Why? Per the hiring managers - “because I have to teach them everything about working in this store”.
However, most of the graduates apply online to hospital jobs and later wonder why nobody is replying back or calling for an interview. Our grads then tell us “I don’t know what happened”. Well, the Career Services team does know what happens – in most cases you are not yet qualified for those jobs.
To break into a new field, sometimes you have to walk backwards, to start going forward. One of the major obstacles in getting started at your new career is the fact that you may be earning more now at a “non career-focused” job than what you will be offered as an entry level Pharmacy Technician. It’s a difficult decision but one you will have to make if you are serious about changing fields. As you know, statistics show that there is growth in the healthcare industry. Once you have gained experience in that new field, you should hear back from employers that want to see you, interview you and hire you and offer you more rewarding salaries and benefits. But don’t underestimate the value of your education. Especially in this economy, your education is likely what is getting you in the door at that entry level job. In our opinion, the days when education as a Pharmacy Technician wasn’t necessary to get the job are about to be over.
My advice to you is to get the experience you need. How are you going to get it? Sometimes you do so great at your externship that they make an offer to you. It may be that they want to start you part-time and later hire you full-time. Or it may be that they want you to work an afternoon schedule that finishes at 9pm. Please be prepared for these situations and ready to accept these offers. If there isn’t a position available at your extern site, you should apply for those retail pharmacy technicians’ jobs that you qualify for. There are many chains such as CVS, Duane Reade, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. Smaller neighborhood pharmacies are a great way to get started in your field.