Many people know that the medical field is a great place to go for career opportunities. Most areas are growing, and there’s good demand for people who can do the work. The challenge is in deciding which type of work to do.
Consider the differences between becoming a pharmacy technician or a medical transcriptionist. They’re both in demand medical careers, but they’re very different. Which one is right for you depends on what you want from your career.
A pharmacy technician works in the pharmacy and spends most of the day on his or her feet. It can be a very physically demanding job, as you have to lift boxes and may have to climb stepladders. There’s often a lot of customer service involved. You may work in a retail setting or in a hospital. You may have to be available to work nights, weekends and holidays.
Some states require certification for pharmacy technicians, but not all do. Certification usually has to be updated every two years, with continuing education required as well.
The great part about becoming a pharmacy technician is that it is a field with good growth expected. The current Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate for growth in this industry is that it will grow by 32% between 2010 and 2020. That’s faster than average. Pay is fair, with a median rate of $13.65 per hour.
Medical transcriptionists may have more flexibility. Some work at home, but others work in hospitals, doctors offices and many other places. You usually spend most of your work day sitting at your computer desk, listening to the doctor’s dictation and transcribing it as accurately as possible. Some positions will require night, weekend and holiday availability, as reports may be urgent enough to require immediate transcription, but other positions are highly flexible and may work around the schedule you set.
Certification is not required for medical transcriptionists, but may have some advantage, as some positions will pay a certified medical transcriptionist more. Note that certification is a separate thing from a certificate of completion from a medical transcriptionist training program. The test to become a certified medical transcriptionist (CMT) is given only by AHDI, and you must have two years of acute care transcription experience or equivalent just to sign up to take the test.
Medical transcription is a growing but changing field. It’s expected to grow by about 6% from 2010-2020, the most recent times that have an estimate available as of this writing. That’s not as fast as the growth expected for pharmacy technicians. It’s a bit slower than average.
However, the industry is changing significantly with the switch to electronic medical records. That’s not likely to completely do away with medical transcriptionists, but it may change the work to more of an editorial role, ensuring that the electronic records are created accurately.
The median pay rate for medical transcriptionists is better than that of pharmacy technicians, at about $15.82 per hour.
Of course, which career is better for you depends on a lot of factors. Medical transcription has the advantage of being possible to do from home, so you aren’t completely reliant on your local job market. However, you have to be more prepared for change, and new jobs aren’t opening up as fast as they are for pharmacy technicians. You have to consider what’s important to you in your career and where you want it to take you in the long run before you decide to get training for any new career.