Eight Unique Career Options for Pharmacy Technicians That Aren’t in Retail or Hospital


by HeatherLyn Gray, MPH, SCCEM, CHEC, CPhT

So you may have recently read a blog post about “How Pharmacy Technicians Do More Than Count Pills” and might be thinking, “That’s great, but what if I don’t want to work in a hospital or retail?” Maybe you’re already working in those settings and need a change. Maybe hospitals creep you out. Perhaps you spent a summer as a sales clerk and vowed never to work in retail again.

I get it - and I’ve got you covered. Here are some unique career options that aren’t (always) in retail or hospital.

Maybe you like working with the community…but not the whole community (we see you, a customer who just dropped off a prescription and is now engaged in a one-sided staring contest for the 30 minutes we quoted to get it filled). Non-traditional or “closed door” pharmacies might be an option, such as long-term care, infusion centers, and veterinary clinics/hospitals. You still get to work with people (or puppies!) but in a specific environment. Although, I haven’t come across too many veterinary pharmacy technician (VPT) positions. Still, PowerPak has a whole certificate program dedicated to it, so it has to be real, right?

Working in a mail-order pharmacy has the potential to eliminate nearly all of the awkward interactions with customers that might pop up in retail. For the most part, orders and refill requests come in via fax, mail, or telephone. They are then filled, boxed up, and sent out with the mail. You still need to communicate with customers, but they’re on your time now. For those looking further down the career path, the mail-order pharmacy market is expected to grow through 2027 as mail-order medications become more prevalent among U.S. adults.

Another pharmacy sector where growth is expected to continue is specialty pharmacy. Specialty pharmacy technicians work with medications to treat rare or complex health conditions, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, and organ transplantations. Pharmacy technicians following this career path may find increased satisfaction as part of a healthcare team as specialty pharmacies are often more involved in following up with patients and communicating with their providers and caregivers to ensure regimens are being followed correctly.

Being a prior authorization technician might also be an option if you don’t mind being on the phone, wrangling necessary documentation from physician’s offices, and submitting prior authorizations to ensure patients can receive the medications they need with the least amount of delay possible. For those driven by figuring out puzzles (because what is deciphering plan coverage policies to get insurance companies to pay for medications if not a series of puzzles), the path of prior authorizations might be the one for you.

A position as a data analyst technician (DAT) and pharmacy technician informaticist (PTI) might be options for our data-driven technicians. Both paths focus on gathering and evaluating data to improve health outcomes. DATs may be responsible for reviewing charts, financial data, quality improvement reports, and patient risk assessments to improve business operations and pharmacy processes. At the same time, PTIs are the “tech gurus” –not just how everyone who can’t seem to get an automated medication cabinet or a fax machine to work calls the pharmacy for tech support. These are the real gurus – working with technologies, management systems, and automation geared toward optimizing the delivery of pharmacy services.

For my fellow academics, a career in pharmaceutical research, where you would be working as part of a research and development team conducting drug studies, might be what you’re looking for. SPOILER ALERT: This is also an area of pharmacy expected to grow at least through 2025, with clinical trials in treatments for cancer, acute and chronic pain management, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases projected to increase.

Lastly, for the technician who’s done it all, consider the path of teaching. This is an opportunity to give back to the profession by training the next batch of technicians (the “right” way). If you have the experience and patience to teach, consider doing it.

So, there it is - a list of pharmacy career paths you could go down that aren’t (necessarily) in retail or hospital. I’m not going to lie, some of these might find you working for a retail chain or healthcare system, but maybe it’ll be in an office building or somewhere outside traditional pharmacy walls. Pharmacy is a big world with many paths to explore, so do it. Remember, not all who wander are lost.

The CEO and Founder of the National Pharmacy Technician Association, Mike Johnston, CPhT-Adv, has an incredible resource for finding these career options. Mike’s Ultimate Career Navigator Course gives you 130 unique career path options for CPhTs. This six-week course gives you the necessary steps that must be taken to achieve your professional goals as it covers:

  • Crafting Your Ideal Career Plan
  • Dynamic Job Search Strategies
  • Winning Resumes and Cover Letters
  • Attention Grabbing Applications
  • Unforgettable Interviews
  • Strategic Offer Evaluations and Negotiations

To gain access to this incredible resource and take your career to the next level, click here.