According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the employment of pharmacy technicians will increase by 32 percent in the 2010-20 decade.* It further adds that the field will add about 108,300 jobs in the same time period.** Clearly, pharmacy technician is one of the hottest allied healthcare careers right now.
But what is the process involved in becoming a pharmacy technician? If you are looking for answers, we have them for you right here. Presenting a complete step-by-step guide on what it takes to become a certified pharmacy technician.
1. If you want to become a certified pharmacy tech, you need to begin at the beginning, which means taking appropriate classes in high school. Courses in math, health and life sciences will establish just the kind of foundation you’ll need when you start school for pharmacy technician training.
2. The next step is to choose an educational program to get trained in the field. Postsecondary pharmacy tech training is available at community colleges and vocational schools. While some states do not have any educational prerequisites other than a high school diploma for pharmacy techs, others require these professionals to complete formal training in the field.
3. If your state does not mandate that you complete pharmacy tech training, you can start hunting for jobs right away and learn the trades as you go along. However, it’s generally a good idea to go to school for pharmacy technician training to boost your employability whether your state requires it or not.
4. Typical coursework in a pharmacy tech training program includes topics like pharmacology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy law and ethics, prescriptions, non-sterile compounding, etc. Your program may also include an externship in a pharmacy to provide you some valuable, hands-on experience.
5. Even if your pharmacy tech training program does not include practicum or externship, it’s a good idea to find intern positions at your local drug store. You can also arrange for some shadow sessions and observe other pharmacy techs at work to experience what a typical day for them is like.
6. Getting certification is the final and most important step towards reaching your objective. Before you do anything, make sure you meet the regulations set by your state’s pharmacy board. Some of the typical regulations include a high school diploma or GED certificate; criminal background check; formal training program; continuing education, etc.
7.There are two main organizations that offer certification to pharmacy technicians – the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcare Association (NHA). The PTCB certification can be obtained by passing their Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) and meeting other eligibility criteria. The NHA grants certification to technicians who pass the ExCPT pharmacy exam.
8. After you obtain your certification and start practicing as a certified pharmacy tech, make sure you keep meeting the recertification and continuing education demands of your profession.
This is how you begin your journey as a certified pharmacy tech. When you are ready to don that crisp white coat, bear in mind that it becomes your duty to serve your customers – many of whom will be visiting you under stressful circumstances – with a smile on your face and kindness in your heart!