The question of how to become a pharmacy technician can be answered easily, as long as the person is truly interested in becoming one. But what is a certified pharmacy technician in the first place?
He or she is a technician that provides assistance to licensed pharmacists when it comes to tasks associated with running a pharmacy. There are times when a pharmacy tech acts as a cashier or clerk, or someone who manages sales and other financial matters.
A pharmacy tech answers and makes telephone calls, purchases supplies, and replenishes shelves. They perform other administrative and clerical duties that might be required of them.
Pharmacy Technician Duties and Responsibilities
What does a pharmacy technician do? Pharmacy technicians work under the close supervision of a pharmacist. The specific responsibilities of a typical pharmacy tech include:
- Measuring, packaging, and labeling of medications.
- Identifying expired drugs and other pharmaceutical products for disposal or return to manufacturing companies.
- Encoding and maintaining lists of patient’s medications in the pharmacy’s computer systems.
- Filling medication orders.
- Talking to clients on sales matters or directing them to the pharmacist for consultation.
Other duties of a pharmacy technician include receiving prescriptions, sterilizing instruments and dispensing bottles, operating a cash register, writing letters, memos and other correspondences, and delivering medication orders to institutions.
Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work?
Pharmacy technicians work in organized health care service and product facilities, either as full-time or part-time employees. Sometimes, they are required to work in the evenings, weekends, or even holidays.
Some of the most common places where pharmacy technicians are assigned to work are hospitals, medical shops, drug stores, mail-order pharmacies, assisted living facilities, and senior homes. Hospital pharmacies operate around-the-clock; and so, pharmacy techs who are assigned in these institutions must expect to work the graveyard shift.
Pharmacy Technician Training and Education
There are no standard requirements when it comes to pharmacy technician training. However, many states do require a high school diploma before anyone can work as a pharmacy tech. A number of states require pharmacy technicians to earn national certification after having completed a formal pharmacy technician training program. Still, others allow individuals to work as pharmacy technicians after they have finished on-the-job training, which usually runs from 3 months to 1 year.
Pharmacy Technician Training Courses
Formal pharmacy tech training programs are available through vocational schools, community colleges, and health care and military facilities. Most programs take as long as 2 years, although there are intensive courses that finish in 6 months.
Courses include both classroom and lab work, and deal in various pharmaceutical areas, such as pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical techniques, record keeping, pharmaceutical calculations, and law and ethics. There are some online pharmacy technician schools, but prospective students should make sure any educational program is fully accredited before enrolling.
Pharmacy Technician Schools: Be Sure To Choose An Accredited Institution
For any individual who wants to know how to become a pharmacy technician, he or she should perform due diligence when selecting a training school. Doing so will help find the best pharmacy technical training school that offers fully-accredited courses and programs.
Needless to say, only the finest schools and institutes have accredited programs for their students. Accreditation is a must in order for the student to easily gain full employment in this competitive medical field.
Pharmacy Technician Certification
After earning technical school education, or on-the-job training, the pharmacy technician is now ready to take the pharmacy technician certification exam. US States recognize two certification boards: these are the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, which issues the Pharmacy Technician Certification; and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians, which offers the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.
Once a candidate has passed the pharmacy technician test, given by either of these certifying bodies, he or she will be awarded the certification. Certification is highly desirable since it enhances the worker’s prospects for employment and as well as advancement in their career. This is apart from the fact that many pharmacy employers require their technicians to obtain these certifications.
Further Pharmacy Tech Training
Training does not stop even when a technician has been certified. In fact, the certification must be renewed every two years. And, a pharmacy tech is required to undergo 20 hours of training within the two-year certification period before they take the recertification exam. The required education may be obtained from pharmacy organizations, colleges, advanced formal training programs, and on-the-job training under the supervision of the technician’s pharmacist.
Pharmacy Technician Salary
The salary of a pharmacy technician is much higher than that of other workers engaged in pharmacy jobs, like a pharmacy assistant or pharmacy aide. This is because a pharmacy tech is required at times to perform specific pharmacy and administrative duties. Hence, a pharmacy technician is given more serious responsibilities than a pharmacy assistant or aide.
So, how much do pharmacy technicians make? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the range of salary the pharmacy technicians in the United States earn is from $19,500 to $34,000 annually. When it comes to the average pharmacy technician salary, the amount is in the area of $28,000.
Pharmacy technicians who desire to increase their salary have great chances of doing so. They may start by undergoing valuable on-the-job training and taking relevant courses in order to strengthen their educational and training credentials. Of course, those who have been awarded their certification and recertification can expect their salaries to increase in due time.
On the other hand, pharmacy techs who are contented with their high school diploma have no choice but be satisfied with the corresponding minimal salary that is due them.
Advancement opportunities when it comes to pharmacy technical jobs are generally limited. However, workers who are fortunate enough to work in major pharmacies and large health facilities are given opportunities to avail themselves of essential training or gain important experience. Hence, they have greater chances of being promoted to supervisory, or even managerial positions.
Some technicians have the chance to engage in more specialized positions, like nuclear and chemical pharmacy technicians. A number of pharmacy technician have considered such positions as stepping stones to higher-paying and more stable jobs, such as a sales representative or a sales manager.
Still, others continue to engage in formal training and college education in order to become full-pledged pharmacists.
Great Choice of Career
A pharmacy technician career is an excellent option that you can take if you want a stable and good-paying job in the health care industry, while at the same time being able to help patients. Pharmacy technicians offer valuable assistance to pharmacists. A pharmacist is able to provide the right medication to needy patients in a prompt manner with the help of an efficient pharmacy technician.
Pursuing a pharmacy technician job requires an individual to be aware of all its tasks and responsibilities, career prospects, as well as the required education, training and certifications. Needless to say, any individual who wants to pursue a promising pharmacy tech career must know the right steps on how to become a pharmacy technician.