Boost in jobs is likely to outpace average job growth nationally.
Pharmacy technicians can expect faster than average job growth during the next decade, according to a report published by JobRx, a pharmacy employment digital resource.
According to the report, the growth rate for pharmacy technicians is expected to be 7% between 2018 and 2028, while the growth rate for all other occupations is 5% during the same period. There is also an expectation of an average of 37,500 annual job openings.
The number of pharmacy technician jobs isn’t the only thing that’s increasing. The duties assigned to a pharmacy technician area are also expanding. Currently, there is no uniform education and training required of pharmacy technicians. However, as pharmacists are expected to perform more cognitive tasks, technicians will also need a higher level of education as their tasks increase and in order for pay scales to adjust accordingly.
“The pharmacist, very appropriately, is being more recognized for their clinical experience and knowledge in the medical field,” said Lori Bruhn, pharmacy lead instructor at Pima Medical Institute’s Denver campus and senior certified pharmacy technician at Walgreens, in an interview with Pharmacy Times®. “They are now required to be doctors of pharmacology; that wasn’t true in the past. So they’re being utilized more for that knowledge and experience. So, as their positions become more elevated and clinical…[and] as they raise their level of clinical position, we [pharmacy technicians] have to go up with them.”
The JobRx report “2020 US Pharmacy Mid-Year Update Results” also projected growth in the hospital pharmacy setting. Pharmacy employment is expected to surge 6.9% in nonretail settings by 2028. The growth in hospital settings is expected to be 4.4%, while in outpatient care facilities, employment is expected to grow 36.5%.
However, the outlook for jobs in the retail setting is bleaker. According to the report, nearly half of independent pharmacy owners say they expect to reduce staff in the next year. Only 5% say they will create new jobs, and 31% will try to keep current employees. Over the next year, 77% of local pharmacies say they will cut costs by reducing money and support given to community organizations, 36% say they will reduce hours of operation, and 33% say they will cut services. However, the expectations placed on staff have not changed.
“Reduction in staff affects everyone in the pharmacy as well as the patients. So we’re seeing a reduction in staffing hours, even the hours of operation….All these reductions [are] being done without a reduction in workload, without a reduction of expectation…. We’re still doing all the vaccinations that we provide for schools, for travel. Shingles is still a huge push,” Bruhn said.
According to Bruhn, this pressure will be especially intense during flu season and the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic with its potential vaccine.
There are 143 accredited colleges and schools of pharmacy in the United States. The number of applications to these pharmacy schools has decreased 17.68% since 2017, according to the report. However, the number of degrees confirmed in 2017 was 14,905, which is a 2.8% increase from the year before as well as the highest number of degrees confirmed in pharmacy education history.
According to Bruhn, there are not enough technicians to meet growing demand, especially with evolving requirements around state and federal licensure of pharmacy technicians.
“There are not enough tech [jobs] in general, [where] you could just become a tech and you would have on-the-job training. And you could just learn as you go,” she said. “Now, with the requirements of a tech, you have to be certified and licensed…. They’ve elevated that level of requirement, so that expectation for what we know and what we can do and what we can bring to the table has increased.”
Mero K. 2020 US pharmacy mid-year update results. JobRx. Accessed September 28, 2020. https://jobrx.com/publications/employer-tips/demo-publication-2