My Career Step: Jessica Cumber

Jessica Cumber

Jessica's Goals

  • Train for a career that she could do as a military spouse
  • Find a job quickly
  • Become a licensed pharmacy technician

Benefits of her Career Step Education

  • Took the courses online and at her own pace
  • Graduated prepared to take the PTCB certification exam
  • Found a job within weeks of graduating

A Step in a New Direction

In 2010 my husband Jeff decided to leave his teaching job and apply to the Air Force. The one thing I was worried about in the whole “transition to a military family and moving far away from everyone I loved” thing was my career, since I was National Board Certified as a science teacher—I was SET! While we were still in California, I applied to Montana for my teaching credential so I could start the job search as soon as we got to Montana. I also started my Master’s in Science Education at Montana State University.

Then I got “the letter” asking me what institution had I done my teacher preparation courses at and to please send my transcript. I wrote back detailing my Alternative Certification Program, National Board Certification, and my 9 years experience, offering my teaching portfolios as evidence (yes, I still had them). Montana said, “Sorry, you aren’t eligible for ANY kind of teaching credential in the state because you have no education courses from an accredited college.  Come back and apply once you have satisfied those requirements.”

I was heartbroken and angry that I was not going to be able to teach! What else was I supposed to do? My husband was angry at himself for “making” me give up my career along with everything else for him to join the Air Force. I couldn’t see a way to get ahead as a teacher, so I withdrew from my Master’s program and started looking for something else.

One of my friends had just completed a course in Medical Transcription Editing, so I sat down to talk with her over coffee one morning. Turns out, spouses of junior military members receive career support in the form of a scholarship from MyCAA. I jumped at this opportunity and decided on Pharmacy Technician training online through Career Step. The courses looked interesting, had plenty of science used on a daily basis, and the national certification requirements were TRULY national. 

Some might say it is a step backwards for me, but I’m looking at it as a step in a new direction. I was excited to be back in SCIENCE!!

A Quick Study Path

I was able to do the course at my pace, and completely online—which fit in with being a military wife, employed full time, and a mom of two school-aged daughters. I emailed back and forth with my adviser several times, but mostly I plowed through the course on my own. I enrolled on July 30 and graduated on September 3, but I really finished the coursework a week before that and spent the next week studying for the final exam. I finished the program in a little less than a month, got a 96% on my final exam, and graduated with High Honors on September 3.

I took the PTCB certification exam and preliminarily passed the test on Friday, September 13, and received my official results on September 30. I felt well-prepared for the exam due to the training I received at Career Step. Having the certification was a great benefit because it made getting licensed and employed much easier since the state of Montana requires certification within 18 months of beginning work in a pharmacy in order to obtain a permanent pharmacy technician license.

Employed Within Weeks

I really only had my eye on two jobs—one at the hospital and the other in a local pharmacy. I interviewed a week after graduating and was hired within 2 or 3 weeks of graduating at the pharmacy. I really felt that the Institutional Pharmacy unit was a great overview and gave me a great idea of what to expect in my new job. I spent many evenings after working at my new job going back to the Career Step course and textbooks to review sections in preparation for work the next day.  I was very thankful to have the resources offered by Career Step available after I graduated! I would recommend Career Step to others—especially for busy moms who juggle many things!

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