How to Become a Pharmacy Tech Without Going to School
Many positions in the medical field require postsecondary schooling, but it’s not always necessary to attend college or a vocational school to become a pharmacy tech. This is a position that’s easier to get started in than many others in health care, helping you quickly obtain a career in the medical field or offering a stepping stone to a different role. Here is how you can become a pharmacy technician without schooling.
Requirements for Becoming a Pharmacy Tech
In many cases, you only need to complete high school and receive a high school diploma, or earn its equivalent, to become a pharmacy tech. Instead of acquiring formal training, you can receive on-the-job training to learn your duties as a pharmacy technician. This training varies depending on your workplace.
Nonetheless, it’s not always enough to have only a high school diploma or GED equivalent. You need to be certified as a pharmacy technician in certain states and to work for some employers. However, it is not always necessary to go through school to get certified.
You should check the pharmacy tech requirements of your state to see if you need training and/or certification. Also, check with certain employers or consider getting qualifications to put yourself ahead of other candidates.
Even if you train to become a pharmacy technician, the level of commitment and resources is not the same as completing a college degree or other advanced education. Also, it’s not required to complete a training program through a community college or vocational school. Instead, you could take part in a training program through a pharmacy.
Major pharmacy retailers, including Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid, offer pharmacy technician training programs. These programs vary by the company. CVS offers on-the-job training to become a pharmacy tech, and Walgreens has Walgreens University, which provides a pharmacy tech training program and path to certification through PTCB. Rite Aid’s pharmacy tech training program combines courses and workbook exercises with hands-on training in stores. You may also find on-the-job training programs through other pharmacies, such as independent ones or small chains.
If it doesn’t work for you to physically go to school but you could devote yourself to studies, you have the option of online training with hands-on experience in a pharmacy. For instance, you could be educated through CareerStep Online Training Solutions, which includes an externship with CVS or Walgreens.
If you want to avoid training altogether, you could get certified with the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Currently this option does not require schooling. Instead, you take an exam. However, in 2020, PTCB is changing the eligibility requirements to include a PTCB-recognized training or education program or equivalent work experience.
To be PTCB certified, you need a high school diploma or equivalent, disclosure of criminal and State Board of Pharmacy registration or licensure actions, compliance with certification policies and to pass the exam. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) currently costs $129.
Pharmacy Technician Certification (CPhT) with the National Healthcareer Association requires the completion of a training program in addition to a high school degree or equivalent. However, a workaround is that you could have one year of work experience act as the equivalent to training. The ExCPT exam currently costs $117.
It’s possible to quickly get started as a pharmacy technician without going through formal school programs. Instead, you could opt to get certification or go through a training program with a pharmacy. Learn about the requirements of your state and look at recommendations of desired workplaces to determine your individual path to becoming a pharmacy tech. If you check with a pharmacy about its training program, you may find that the path to your new career can be faster and easier than you expected.