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How to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

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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.

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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.

Steps to become a Pharmacy Technician

Here's your guide on how to become a pharmacy technician:

1. Research about the Pharmacy Technician role

  • Learn about the duties and responsibilities of a pharmacy technician, such as distributing prescriptions with pharmacists, managing inventory, and engaging with customers.
  • Understand the education and training requirements, as well as the certifications necessary to become a qualified pharmacy technician.

2. Obtain requirements

  • You'll typically need a high school diploma or equivalent as a foundational education needed for the job. However, some states make exceptions to this rule, allowing individuals to pursue pharmacy technician roles without a high school diploma.

  • Other requirements include your Social Security card and state ID or driver's license.

3. Find the right training program and enroll

  • Opt for an accredited pharmacy technician training program, available at community colleges, vocational schools, and online institutions such as Dreambound.
  • Ensure that the program you're enrolling in covers coursework related to pharmacy law, pharmaceutical calculations, medication safety, pharmacology, and pharmacy software.
  • You can explore programs offering hands-on training or externship opportunities in local pharmacies.

4. Complete a Pharmacy Technician training program

  • You need to complete all coursework and training requirements of the pharmacy technician program.
  • Gain practical experience through internships or externships, so you can develop skills in a real-world pharmacy setting.

5. Obtain Certification (optional in some states)

  • You may want to consider getting a certification as a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
  • Certification shows your commitment to the profession and can improve job prospects and earning potential. Even in states where certification is not necessary, employers may still prefer to hire those who are certified.

6. Build experience

  • Gain experience working as a pharmacy technician to further enhance your skills and knowledge.
  • If it interests you, explore specialization in areas such as compounding, nuclear pharmacy, or sterile products.

7. Apply for state licensure

  • Check your state's requirements for pharmacy technician licensure. Some states require licensure or registration to practice.
  • Submit the necessary application and fees to the state Board of Pharmacy.

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:

  1. ‍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. 

  2. ‍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.

  1. 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. ‍

  2. 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:

License Required

- Alabama

- Alaska

- Arkansas

- California

- Florida

- Georgia

- Idaho

- Indiana

- Kentucky

- Maine

- Maryland

- Massachusetts

- Michigan

- Minnesota

- Mississippi

- Missouri

- Nebraska

- Nevada

- New Hampshire

- New Jersey

- North Carolina

- Ohio

- Oklahoma

- Rhode Island

- South Dakota

- Tennessee

- Washington

- West Virginia

Certification Required

- Arizona

- Colorado

- Connecticut

- Illinois

- Iowa

- Kansas

- Louisiana

- Montana

- New Mexico

- North Dakota

- Oregon

- South Carolina

- Texas

- Utah

- Vermont

- Virginia

- Wyoming

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Not Required

- Delaware

- Hawaii

- New York

- Pennsylvania

- Wisconsin

FAQs

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!

How long is the pharmacy technician program?

The time it takes to become a pharmacy technician can vary depending on the educational path you choose. Certification programs for pharmacy technicians take between 7 weeks to a year. So, if you want to become a pharmacy technician fast, 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:

  • Pharmacy Law
  • Drug Classifications
  • Community Pharmacy Practice
  • Institutional Pharmacy Practice
  • Introduction to Health Professions
  • Pharmaceutical Math
  • Compounding Sterile Preparations
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacy ethics
  • Anatomy
  • Healthcare systems
  • Physiology
  • Medical terminology

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.

What is the salary range for a Pharmacy Technician?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for pharmacy technicians was $40,300 as of May 2023. On average, pharmacy technicians in the United States earn a base salary of $19.37 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.

Job Prospects and Salaries

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 44,900 job openings per year to be available for pharmacy technicians, indicating a 6 percent growth in the job outlook in this field.

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:

  • Pharmacist: A healthcare professional who is responsible for dispensing medications, and 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.

  • Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician (CSPT): 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.

  • Controlled Substances Diversion Prevention Certificate: This certification will equip you to detect and prevent the illegal distribution or misuse of prescription medication.

  • Immunization Certificate: This certification qualifies you to administer immunizations and vaccines.

Conclusion

As one of the frontline people in the healthcare industry, being a pharmacy technician is one of the best options right now. The job doesn't need too much physical work or lifting, but it helps patients a lot when it comes to getting the right medication for them.

So if you are the type of person who is very detail-oriented and loves interacting with people, this career might be for you. With the right education and training, you can embark on a fulfilling and rewarding career path that makes a real difference in people's lives. Don't hesitate to take the first step and connect with Dreambound, your one-stop shop for vocational training!

If you're exploring options in this field in various locations, Dreambound's extensive guides are a great resource. We've got detailed insights for numerous cities. check out some additional guides below:

Winlynd Caballero
Written by
Winlynd Caballero

Winlynd Caballero is a member of Dreambound's Sales team. She helps in handling the company's finullcial transactions, generating reports, and school sales. Beyond her responsibilities in the realm of numbers and business, Winlynd finds herself deeply immersed in a world of art and music.

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