What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
Although some pharmacy technicians complete formal training programs, others receive training on the job. In addition, some must become licensed. Read on to find out more about this career and how to become a pharmacy technician. Schools offering Pharmacy Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
In this career, you work alongside pharmacists and pharmacy aides to help customers, complete administrative duties and handle medication prescriptions. Your main duty will be filling prescriptions. Due to the sensitive nature of medication, a big part of your job is to verify that the prescription information is accurate. You might work in a variety of pharmacy environments, such as a retail setting or mail-order pharmaceuticals company.
Important Facts About This Occupation
|Program Prerequisites||Fundamental coursework in math, reading, writing and medical terminology may be required|
|Online Availability||Fully online diploma programs are offered|
|Possible Careers||Institutional pharmacy technician, inventory specialist, medical equipment specialist, nuclear pharmacy technician|
|Key Skills||Organization, attention to detail, customer service, math|
Besides a high school diploma, there are no formal training requirements for becoming a pharmacy technician. Many receive training on the job; however, employers may prefer that you graduate from a 1- to 2-year pharmacy technology program. These programs are designed to familiarize you with the concepts, practices and terminology used in the career. Students also learn to label, package and store prescriptions. Such programs typically result in a diploma, certificate or associate degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 286 pharmacy technician programs had accreditation from the American Society of Health System Pharmacists in 2015 (www.bls.gov).
In a pharmacy technology program, you might take courses in the following topics:
- Medical law and ethics
- Pharmacy terminology
- Pharmacy math
Along with classroom lectures, these programs incorporate hands-on, supervised training in pharmacy environments.
In most cases, you'll need to register with your state's board of pharmacy to work as a pharmacy technician. You generally need to hold a high school diploma or GED and pay an application fee to be eligible for registration. You may also be required to pass an examination, pass a background check and complete continuing education courses. Select states require pharmacy technicians to be nationally certified.
Even if your state doesn't require pharmacy technicians to be certified, you may choose to earn certification voluntarily to demonstrate your professional aptitude to employers. Certification programs are available through a variety of professional organizations. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, for example, awards the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) credential to qualified candidates who pass a national certification exam (www.ptcb.org). CPhTs must recertify every two years by earning 20 continuing education credits.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, a 9% employment growth is expected for pharmacy technicians over the 2014-2024 decade, which is a faster-than-average increase. These professionals will be needed to assist with an increased number of prescriptions that result from the aging population and improved accessibility to health insurance. As of May 2014, the median annual salary for pharmacy technicians was $29,810. Most of these professionals $20,730 and $43,900, reported the BLS.
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