The specialty pharmacy industry is booming.
The number of employers has more than tripled in the past decade, with more than $2 trillion in annual revenue.
And now, one of the fastest-growing jobs in the field is one that can be found in your backyard.
In 2017, more than 5 million people in the United States and Canada filled prescriptions for prescriptions for medications such as anti-histamines, painkillers, and vaccines, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Many of those jobs are in rural communities, which have a higher prevalence of opioid and HIV/AIDS diagnoses than urban communities.
But they’re not always the ones you think.
“There’s a huge demand for those kinds of jobs,” says John Miller, a vice president at Cogent Medical Group, a healthcare staffing and consulting company.
“And there are only a few people who can fill those jobs.”
In order to fill a job as a specialty pharmacy technician, you’ll need to be able to:Know what you’re looking for.
“You’re not going to get a better job in a field like specialty pharmacy because you’re not familiar with it,” says Dr. Michael C. Williams, a psychiatrist at Yale University who specializes in addiction treatment.
“You’re going to need to have a good understanding of how it works.”
Have a degree or certification.
“I think it’s just a matter of being able to find that certification and be able do it,” Miller says.
You may not be able get a job that’s open to you if you have a college degree.
“If you’re going into that field and you don’t have a degree, there’s not going be any opportunity to work in the industry,” Miller adds.
“In the case of pharmacists, there are very few people with advanced degrees, and you’re just going to have to have the ability to get through that process,” says Michael S. DeMoss, an assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Pharmacy.
You’ll need a certain amount of time to get to that point.
“A year and a half or a year and three years can be the window where someone gets their first job,” Miller explains.
“They may get the job, but it’s not an immediate job, it’s a process.”
If you can’t find a new job, don’t despair.
There are plenty of things you can do to get your foot in the door.
Here are a few tips for getting into the field:Take a look at your network.
“Most pharmacists who work in specialty pharmacies do work in other parts of the industry, so you need to understand what those are and what those jobs pay,” Miller recommends.
“But in general, there is a very large amount of pharmacist-related activity in the community.
So you have to know where you’re at.”
Make a list of places you’d like to work.
“At the end of the day, you want to know what places are going to pay the best,” Miller points out.
“That’s the key.”
Find out if there’s a recruiter.
“The best way to get into specialty pharmacy is to ask the person you’re interested in, who is working in that field, if there is an agency out there,” Miller notes.
“Ask to meet with the recruiter and get in touch with them.
It’s much easier to get in contact with them if you know who is there.”
Take advantage of local jobs.
“When I first started, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Miller recalls.
“I went to work, and the first thing I did was get my driver’s license, which is a requirement for many jobs in this industry.
And I went out and did the jobs.
And then I moved to a new state and started working as a nurse.”
For those who want to work as a pharmacist in their own community, Miller says, they can get in early and work the first day of each month.
“People who work the same day as you and you want work as well are very likely to get the jobs,” he says.
“It’s a little bit like picking a date to visit your grandma.”
“It’s hard to get someone to stay the course, but you can,” Miller said.
“When I came in, there was a little uncertainty in the profession.
People weren’t necessarily getting a good education.
There was a lot of uncertainty about the industry.
It was hard to say, ‘Okay, this is where I want to be in five years, and I’m not going out and working right now.'”
But if you want a job, you might want to find an opening in the area you’re applying to.
“So I would recommend starting early and working the first week of each new month,” Miller advises.
“There’s always a chance you might get a promotion.”