If you find yourself waiting longer in line at the pharmacy, that's in part because there's a huge need for pharmacy technicians. Technical schools in our area are launching programs right now to get new workers in these positions.
Pharmacy technician jobs are expected to increase over the next decade by the higher-than-average rate of nine percent, said instructors at Concorde Career Institute Tampa.
Increased demand for prescription medications will be driven by a number of factors, including an aging population, higher rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, and an increase in the number of people who have health insurance because of federal health insurance reform.
Concorde Career Institute Tampa is rolling out an accelerated pharmacy tech program to make it faster for students to earn a diploma, instructors said.
Krystal Jordan is one of those students. She said she always knew she loved the healthcare field.
"I know I like helping people," Jordan said. "I want to go into the medical field."
She knew starting this pharmacy technician training program could be the first step to getting a very in-demand job.
"It's definitely comforting to know that you know you are going into a field that's going to actually need you," Jordan said.
Concord Career Institute Tampa says baby boomers are aging and bombarding pharmacies with their prescription needs.
"It's almost a constant wave of a need for more pharmacy technicians," said Paul Lerch, pharmacy technician program director.
Instructors say this is a career with lots of opportunity to grow.
"Pharmacy technicians can grow into lead technicians," Lerch said. "Especially if you are [at] hospital facilities, they can become shift managers."
Local pharmacists, dealing with longer patient lines and more demands, say these new techs can't get to work fast enough.
"I wish we could spend more time with the patients," said pharmacist and owner Ambrose Chukwueke of Hillsborough River Pharmacy.
Chukwueke said pharmacy technicians help handle administrative work, but also count pills and assist the pharmacist. They make about $15 an hour, he said.
It typically takes about six months for you to get your diploma as a pharmacy tech to practice in Florida. But pharmacists say if you pass a national exam, you're able to operate in any state.
"It is a good profession for someone who wants to help out, who is here to study medicine, in patient care," Chukwueke said.
For Jordan, this job is just the beginning.
"I would love to go on and, you know, eventually get my pharm d, and eventually get my doctorate and become a pharmacist," she said.
She looks at this as a lifetime career path.
There are several local programs available, including Concorde Career Institute Tampa and Everest.