What Are the Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Tech?

A pharmacy technician is a vital part of the healthcare team. They are responsible for filling prescriptions, maintaining records, providing customer service in pharmacies and coordinating with pharmacists and medical professionals.

To become a pharmacy technician, you should consider completing an accredited training program and passing a national certification exam.

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Table of Contents:

Education Requirements

Many pharmacy technicians start out with only a high school diploma or GED and no postsecondary education. Not all states require pharmacy technicians to be certified, and you may be satisfied with on-the-job training. However, if you want to get ahead as a pharmacy technician, you will want to complete an accredited pharmacy technician program and then pursue certification. Many employers prefer it.

Here, there are three main pharmacy technician school options:

Pharmacy Technician Certificate program: This program is offered by many vocational schools and community colleges. It typically takes anywhere from 4 to 12 months to complete, depending on the institution and your chosen course load. Drug interactions, medical abbreviations, and patient care are covered in this type of program, as are first aid, medical law and ethics, anatomy, pharmacy software systems, and more.

Certificate of Completion: This program is available at some universities and technical institutes. It usually takes a year or two to complete, although some institutions offer accelerated programs that take only a few months.

Associate’s Degree Programs: An associate’s degree program is the most comprehensive option. You can choose to focus on either pharmacy technology or a related field such as medical billing or health information management. Students may take courses in biology, chemistry, math, pharmacy law and pharmacology. It typically takes two years to complete an associate’s degree program, although some schools offer accelerated programs that take only one year.

After you have completed your training, you will then need to take and pass a national professional certification exam.

Once you have passed the exam, you will be registered as a pharmacy technician with the state in which you plan to work.

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) is the accrediting agency for pharmacy technician programs. An ACPE-accredited program will provide formal instruction and hands-on training in a variety of topics relevant to the profession, such as pharmacology, drug safety and labeling, sterile products preparation, patient counseling, and more.

You may also wish to consider one of the many online pharmacy technician programs available. An online program can provide you with the flexibility to pursue your studies on your own schedule, and is a good option if you are unable to attend an in-person program due to geographical limitations or other reasons. Use the search box above to find online certificate programs near you.

Certification

If you’re interested in further developing your career in pharmacy, you’ll need to become a certified pharmacy technician. The requirements to become a pharmacy tech vary by state, but generally include completing a training program and passing the pharmacy technician certification exam.

While the specific requirements may vary, most pharmacy technician training programs will cover topics such as medical terminology, pharmacology, and pharmacy calculations.

After completing a training program, you’ll need to pass a certification exam administered by a nationally recognized organization such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association.

PTCB certification requires passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). The PTCB exam covers topics such as medication safety, pharmacy law and ethics, and dosage calculations. It is a computer-based exam with 90 multiple choice questions that must be completed in two hours.

The NHA exam is also computer-based and includes questions on topics such as pharmacology, pharmacy law, calculations, medication safety, compounding techniques, and more.

Once you’re certified, you’ll be able to begin working as a pharmacy technician. In this role, you’ll assist pharmacists in dispensing medications and providing customer service.

With experience, you may even be able to advance to a supervisory role or open your own pharmacy. If you’re considering a career in pharmacy, be sure to research the requirements to become a pharmacy tech in your state.

After obtaining your pharmacy technician license, you will need to keep up with your continuing education requirements to maintain your certification.

Once certified, you’ll be on your way to a rewarding career in this growing field.

Key Takeaway: To become a pharmacy technician, you’ll need to complete a training program and pass a certification exam.

Job Duties

Pharmacy technician jobs are varied and can include some or all of the following duties:

  • Assisting the pharmacist in dispensing prescription medications.
  • Maintaining records of patients’ prescriptions.
  • Answering phone calls and questions from patients.
  • Processing insurance claims.
  • Stocking shelves and organizing inventory.

If you enjoy mixing and preparing medications, you could consider becoming a compounding pharmacy technician. This role involves creating customized medications for individual patients, such as transdermal gels and creams or flavored formulations of certain medications.

The pharmaceutical industry is constantly changing, so pharmacy technicians must keep up with the latest regulations and safety protocols. As a pharmacy technician, you’ll need to stay current on all laws and regulations related to the profession.

You’ll also need to be up to date on medication information, such as new drug formulations or changes in dosage instructions.

Work Environment

When it comes to the work environment for pharmacy technicians, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, pharmacy technicians work typically in settings where they are in close proximity to licensed pharmacists and other health professionals.

This means that the work environment is often fast-paced and may require multitasking. Additionally, pharmacy technicians may be required to work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends.

Despite the challenges that the work environment may pose, becoming a pharmacy technician can be a rewarding career choice.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for pharmacy technicians is projected to grow 7% through 2029. This means that there are plenty of opportunities available for those interested in becoming a pharmacy technician. The median annual salary for pharmacy technicians is also higher than the median salary for all occupations.

Work Settings

Depending on the level of your pharmacy technician education and your experience, you will find jobs in different settings available to you. Pharmacy technician job settings include: hospitals, retail pharmacies, long-term care facilities, mail-order pharmacies, and even home health care.

The best-earning pharm techs can typically be found in hospitals, due to their greater demand for specialized services. There they will typically work alongside health-system pharmacists, who are the medication experts in hospitals or ambulatory care facilities, for example.

Pharmaceutical companies also employ pharmacy technicians who assist in training and developing new products, as well as performing quality assurance tests.

Skills Needed

There are many skills needed to become a pharmacy technician.

The most important skills are:

1. Communication Skills:

You will need to be able to communicate with patients, doctors, and other pharmacists. You will need to be able to explain things clearly and listen to instructions carefully.

2. Organizational Skills:

You will need to be able to keep track of patients’ prescriptions, stock the shelves, and help the pharmacist fill prescriptions.

3. Math Skills:

You will need to be able to calculate doses, measure liquids, and count pills.

4. Computer Skills:

You will need to be able to use the computer to look up information, process prescriptions, and keep track of inventory.

5. People Skills:

You will need to be able to deal with a variety of people, including patients who are sick or in pain, and be able to handle difficult situations.

Conclusion

To become a pharmacy technician, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. You may opt for on-the-job training in a retail pharmacy setting. However, to learn the best pharmacy practices and make yourself more attractive to employers you should consider pharmacy technician certification. To become certified, you will also want to complete an accredited program.

These programs typically last one year and include both classroom and hands-on training. After completing your training, you will be eligible to take the national certification exam.

All pharmacy technicians should be certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). To earn certification and become a certified pharmacy technician (CPHT), you must either pass the PTCB Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians, or take the National Healthcareer Association’s exam.

If you’re looking for a career in pharmacy, then you’ll need to get the proper education and training. PharmacistSchools.org can help you find the right program to fit your needs and prepare you for a successful career in this growing field. With our comprehensive list of accredited programs, we can help you find the perfect match for your educational and professional goals.