Joining the Air Force to be in the Pharmacy Technician or Pharmacist role can be rewarding.
Being a Pharmacy Technician or Pharmacist allows you to help people who may be sick or ill, feel better faster.
Completing the Pharmacy Technician program and using the skills learned to work your way to a Pharmacist position is a great way to use the benefits the Air Force offers.
Just joining the Military as a Pharmacist is a great way to use the Air Force benefits as well.
This profile will give you the information for both positions so you can compare and contrast all of the qualifications and duties to make a career path decision.
Continue reading for the job qualifications, job duties, pay, job reviews and civilian job opportunities for both the Air Force Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist positions.
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Pay and Benefits
Civilian Career Opportunities
Education, Qualifications and Training
Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist positions have different education, qualification and training requirements.
The Pharmacist position includes some of the qualifications in the Technician position but has additional qualifications that the Technician position does not have.
The extra qualifications are required because of the amount of responsibility a Pharmacist has, and Officer rank they hold.
You can find the education, qualification and training requirements for each position below.
Recruits must have a High School Diploma or GED to enter into a Pharmacy Technician position.
They must also meet the general ASVAB requirements for the Air Force.
- Have normal color vision
- Ability to type 25 words per minute
- Ability to communicate clearly, orally and written
- Completion of one year of high school algebra or one unit of college algebra
- Must be between the ages of 17 and 39
After completing 8.5 weeks of Basic Military Training, recruits will attend technical school at Fort Sam Houston in Texas for 62 days.
Pharmacist have two options for minimum education:
- Recruits must have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree or
- Bachelor of Pharmacy from an accredited institution plus completion of an accredited residency, fellowship or other verifiable experience
- Good standing, valid pharmacist license
- 24 months of experience in pharmacy practice assignments
- Normal color vision
- Must be between 18 and 41 years old
- Within 12 months of commissioning, new graduates need to obtain a license that is issued by a board of pharmacy to practice medicine
Individuals will complete a 5.5 week Commissioned Officer training course at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
A Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist may have similar tasks during the day, but their main job functions vary.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Duties
Air Force Pharmacy Technicians are responsible for filling and dispensing medications.
These airman work with side by side with the Pharmacist to ensure all orders are processed quickly and effectively.
The Pharmacy Technicians will work with providers, patients and insurance companies.
They will prepare drug orders daily.
Calculating the amount of ingredients needed to make compound drug is an essential part of preparing drug orders.
Pharmacy Technicians will receive the requests for prescriptions and work with the patient to make sure the correct information is received.
Individuals will develop efficient work methods and operating procedures to enable all employees to work diligently.
It is the Pharmacy Technicians job to conduct inspections periodically of both the drug storage and usage areas.
In addition to inspections, it is the Pharmacy Technicians job to safeguard chemicals, drugs and narcotics.
That duty requires physically keeping them safe but also making sure that individuals who use the medicine know how to avoid unintended misuse.
Pharmacy Technicians will perform inventory tracking and preparing orders.
They will also start defective drug product complaints and adverse drug reaction reporting.
These airmen will be responsible for documenting, maintaining and disposing Air Force and drug records.
Technicians will clean, operate and maintain data equipment.
They will update the software for the equipment as well.
Pharmacist Job Duties
Pharmacist can do any of the duties described above in the Pharmacy Technician section.
They are the ones who hold the primary responsibility of ensuring the medication dosages are correct and the patient is getting the correct order.
The Pharmacist will counsel patients when they receive their medication prescription on the potential side effects and the different treatment states.
They will instruct the patient on the correct use of the medication.
The Pharmacist will ensure the patient knows how to use the product correctly to avoid any misuse.
Not only does the Pharmacist counsel patients, they are also there to counsel and direct staff.
Pharmacist will screen prescriptions for accuracy and that the medication is correct for the ailment.
They will coordinate the patient care instructions between all members of the team.
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Pharmacist will advise technicians on the ordering and storing of medications.
They will assist in the proper compound mixing and dosage requirements.
They are considered a consultant for pharmaceutical staff to reach out to for assistance.
The Pharmacist position generally holds more liability and accountability.
They are required to have more knowledge and ability to make decisions on customer care.
Pharmacist work to make sure that customer satisfaction is high and wait times are as low as possible.
Pharmacist can work in pharmacies that are high-tech and allow for automation.
This can make it easier for both the pharmacist and their staff when it comes to inventory and completing customer orders.
You can find more information on the Air Force Pharmacist position by watching the video below.
What is the pay like as a Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist?
All Airmen in the same rank and years of experience get paid the same amount.
Pharmacist are considered Officers and would be at a higher rank and pay scale than Pharmacy Technicians.
The base pay for the Air Force is below.
|Insignia||Pay Grade||Rank||Abbreviation||2019 Pay (Monthly)|
|E-3||Airman First Class||A1C||$1,981|
|E-8||Senior Master Sergeant||SMSgt||$4,345|
|E-9||Chief Master Sergeant||CMSgt||$5,308|
|E-9||Command Chief Master Sergeant||CCM||$5,429|
|E-9||Chief Master Sergeant Of The Air Force||CMSAF||$5,580|
The Air Force offers many benefits that are available to all individuals regardless of rank.
One of the benefits that would be beneficial to those who are entering as a Pharmacy Technician with the goal of becoming a Pharmacist, or even for those entering in as a Pharmacist, is the education tuition assistance.
The Air Force offers tuition assistance that could allow recruits to receive up to 100% of their tuition covered.
The programs that the Air Force uses to allow for that coverage are the Air Force Tuition Assistance program, the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery Bill.
In addition to the above tuition assistance programs, the Air Force also offers the Health Professions Scholarship Program.
If you are planning on being a Pharmacy Technician and then a Pharmacist, this program is perfect for you because it covers one year of tuition towards becoming a Pharmacist if you sign for one year of active duty.
Individuals will spend 45 days on active duty.
After graduating, you must sign up for a minimum of 3 years of active duty (3 years of scholarship funding minimum).
This program is great if you are an individual who is currently or planning on, completing school to be in the Pharmacist position, too.
You can find more information on the Health Professions Scholarship Program and all scholarship programs the Air Force offers here.
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The Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist position are both offered the below benefits:
- Insurance: Free/low cost medical and dental insurance, paid sick time, low cost life insurance
- Housing: Allowance including utilities and maintenance
- Food: Allowance plus tax-free department and grocery stores available on base
- Retirement: Available after 20 years of service with zero payroll deductions
- Vacation: 30 days paid vacation
- Recreation: Facilities, social events, youth activities-all available on base
A complete list of Air Force benefits can be found by visiting their website here.
Overall, the reviews for both Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist positions are positive.
Being able to get your education expenses covered while gaining documented experience in the field are positive attributes that people note about the position.
Other positive reviews include the excellent benefits that the Air Force offers including vacation and retirement.
Negative reviews of the positions include having to move often and being on call.
People have noted that it can be hard to get promoted in either position.
A review from individuals who served in Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist positions are below:
Civilian Career Opportunities
After completing the required education and training for a Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist position you will have the tools needed to work in a Pharmacy in the civilian world.
The skills learned will directly relate to positions in clinics, inpatient, outpatient, hospitals and private businesses.
You can generally find positions in Pharmacies by searching online or by going into locations that you know have Pharmacies.
When using online platforms such as Indeed, you can find positions that give Military preference.
Positions that state Military preference will include the information in the job description.
Joining the Air Force and entering into the field of Pharmacy Technician or Pharmacist has many benefits.
While some of their job functions may be similar, the training and education for the Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist positions differ.
A Pharmacy Technician helps the Pharmacist fill orders, complete inventory and coordinate with providers.
Pharmacist are responsible for ensuring Pharmacy Technicians are providing accurate and correct medication dosages, coordinating with providers and providing the best overall experience for customers.
The Air Force offers tuition and scholarship opportunities that allow most people to leave the Air Force with an education and zero student loan debt.
Overall, people who have held either position are happy with the benefits they are offered and experience they gain in the Air Force.
This experience directly relates to civilian Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist positions.