Pharmacy technicians are important members of the healthcare team, and they are in high demand. If you are interested in a career in healthcare, consider becoming a pharmacy technician. In this article, we will go over the ins and outs of becoming a pharmacy technician.
Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists. They ensure that their patients receive the right medication. They play an important role in dispensing medication, which requires precision and attention to detail.
What does a pharmacy technician do?
Here are some of the duties performed by a pharmacy technician:
Helping patients fill or order prescriptions.
Preparing new prescription and refill requests for patients.
Packing and labeling a prescribed medication
Dispensing medication to patients per the prescription or provider’s orders.
Pharmacy technician jobs can vary depending on their work setting. Your duties and responsibilities may differ depending on the type of healthcare facility you serve.
Education and training requirements
The requirements for a pharmacy technician program depend on the training provider. It usually includes:
High school diploma/ GED
Social Security Card
Driver’s license/ State ID
How long is the pharmacy technician program?
The certification program for pharmacy technicians takes between 7 weeks to a year. So, if you are looking for a fast-paced program, enrolling in a vocational program will be the best option for you.
You also have the option to take an associate’s degree program to become a pharmacy technician. This type of program will take longer and is approximately about 2 years to complete.
What will you learn in the program?
There are lots of topics and concepts that you will learn during the program. You will learn how to be keen in dealing with patients' medicines and prescriptions. Some of the topics you will discuss during the training are as follows:
Community Pharmacy Practice
Institutional Pharmacy Practice
Introduction to Health Professions
Compounding Sterile Preparations
The things you learn in the course are important for helping to save lives and keep people safe when they take medication. By gaining knowledge and guidance, you'll be able to ensure that medications are correctly and effectively used.
Pharmacy technician license vs. pharmacy technician certification
After completing the training, you can either get a certification or a license to work. Here’s a quick overview of the difference between a pharmacy technician license and a certification:
Pharmacy technician license This is a legal authorization from your state provided by the Board of Pharmacy, qualifying you to work as a pharmacy technician. It verifies that you have met the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out the tasks of a pharm technician. This also ensures that you have undergone training to ensure the proper dispensing of medications.
Pharmacy technician certification This is a special recognition that shows someone has completed training and passed tests to become a qualified pharmacy technician. It means they have learned important skills to help pharmacists in places like pharmacies or hospitals.
There are two most preferred certifications available for pharmacy technicians that you can get.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE): You can get this certification at the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The cost of the exam is $129; it is a computer-based exam with 90 multiple-choice questions. You must complete a state-approved training program or have at least 500 hours of work experience to be eligible to take the training.
Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT): You can get this certification at the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). You can take the exam online or in person, and it consists of a total of 100 questions. You must complete a state-approved training program or have at least 1,200 hours of supervised pharmacy-related work.
Every two years, you need to renew your certification. You must complete at least 20 hours of continuing education to be eligible for renewal. This renewal process ensures that you stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field.
Here’s a quick guide on whether your state requires a certificate or license as a pharmacy technician:
Where can I find Pharmacy technician classes?
There are two options for you to become a certified pharm technician. You can take an online or in-person session. Then, take the class at a vocational school or earn an associate degree. This depends on your budget and your plans for your career in the future.
Dreambound makes it easier to find a pharmacy technician class near your location. You can even filter the class by zip code!
The demand for pharmacy technicians is growing due to the increasing number of older adults and the rising prevalence of chronic diseases. BLS expects an average of 43,500 job openings per year to be available for pharmacy technicians, indicating a strong job outlook in this field.
What is the salary range for a Pharmacy Technician?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for pharmacy technicians was $36,740 as of May 2021. On average, pharmacy technicians in the United States earn a base salary of $18.30 per hour.
Where does a Pharmacy Technician work?
They work in various settings, such as pharmacies within drugstores, general merchandise stores, grocery stores, and hospitals. While many work full-time, a significant portion also work part-time, providing flexibility in scheduling and enabling individuals to balance work with other responsibilities.
What can I do after becoming a Pharmacy Technician?
After becoming a certified pharmacy technician, there are several career paths available to you. You can choose to specialize in a particular area or take other courses and certifications to advance your career.
Here are a few options you can choose from:
A healthcare professional who is responsible for dispensing medications, providing drug information to patients.
Lead Pharmacy Technician
They continue to do the same duties as pharmacy technicians while taking on leadership roles, mentoring their coworkers, and ensuring patients receive high-quality care.
Performs advanced knowledge and skill as a specialized pharmacy technician and ensures medication safety.
Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv)
You will perform more complex tasks compounding medications, preparing sterile products, managing inventory, and ordering medications. You are also expected to take on managerial roles such as training and educating other pharmacy technicians and students.
Technician Product Verification Certificate
You will have a deeper knowledge of patient safety and be keen on avoiding dispensing medication errors.
Hazardous Drug Management Certificate
You will gain expertise in handling, storing, administering, and disposing of hazardous drugs.
Billing and Reimbursement Certificate
This certification will provide you with expertise in healthcare billing and reimbursement.