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How to Become an Army Pharmacy Technician


Spc. Samantha Short, a pharmacy technician assigned to 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, fills a prescription during a combined medical engagement at a clinic in Qarghuli, a village south of Baghdad.
Spc. Samantha Short, a pharmacy technician assigned to 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, fills a prescription during a combined medical engagement at a clinic in Qarghuli, a village south of Baghdad.
Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army/Sgt. Phillip Valentine, 366th MPAD, USD-C

Close to 1.5 million Americans serve in the United States Armed Forces, which includes the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard [source: Department of Defense]. Such an enormous operation requires many behind-the-scenes jobs to maintain so many people on a daily basis. One large part of this well-oiled machine is the Army Medical Department.

The U.S. Army maintains its own medical system, complete with hospitals, doctors, nurses, medics and ambulances, which all work together to keep American troops healthy and ready to defend the country. The Army Medical Department also cares for veterans and the families of soldiers, both stateside and on bases throughout the world. Just like civilian hospitals, Army hospitals run their own pharmacies to fill prescriptions for patients and answer questions about medications.

Army pharmacies are run primarily by licensed pharmacists (who have officer status in the Army), but they also have pharmacy technicians, or pharmacy assistants, who help with the day-to-day operations. Pharmacy techs are responsible for helping mix and fill prescriptions, maintain records, interact with customers and perform other administrative duties. There are currently more than 600 pharmacy technicians serving in the U.S. Army [source: Gerbino].

One benefit of working as a pharmacy technician for the Army is that it's a job that can easily transfer to the civilian job market. Army pharmacies are run pretty much like pharmacies everywhere else, so not only will you have the basic skills to work as a pharmacy assistant just about anywhere, but you'll also have experience, which is an invaluable asset in a competitive job market.

Does working in an Army pharmacy sound like a job you're interested in? On the next page, we'll share tips for how to join the program, some benefits of working for the Army and a few of the qualities that make a good pharmacy technician.