A pharmacy technician is an entry-level medical professional that assists the pharmacist in the day to day operations of the pharmacy. Responsibilities include printing labels, managing patient needs, verifying prescriptions, completing paperwork, processing insurance claims, maintaining safety standards, and more.
While becoming a pharmacy technician does require a certain level of training and education, most certifications can be obtained in under a year (5-10 months) with advanced programs, and around 1-2 years with the average pharmacy tech program. Tuition and requirements will vary by state and program.
What do you need in order to become a pharmacy technician? Here you’ll find the definitive list of pharmacy tech requirements, including prerequisites, training requirements, and more.
A High School Diploma Or GED
The first requirement to begin your training is a high school diploma or a GED. You’ll need to show that you’ve successfully completed high school-level coursework. This is the prerequisite to just about any medical certification.
If you don’t have a GED or a diploma, there are both local and online resources for acquiring one. Nowadays, you can easily take the high school equivalency test and receive a GED for a fee.
Find A Pharmacy Tech Program
The next step is to find a pharmacy technician training program either online or on-campus. There are various training programs across the country, each with their own curriculum and training requirements. Requirements can also vary by state.
In order to find the best program for your needs, consider a few factors first.
How much can you afford to spend on your education?
Will you need student loans?
Does your preferred training program offer financial aid?
Does the program have partnerships with pharmacies?
What’s the program’s graduation rate?
Does the program offer job placement?
These questions will help you determine which pharmacy tech program is right for your budget and your career goals. You don’t want to sign up for just any program you stumble across on the internet.
Be sure to do your research and make a well-informed choice. After all, you’ll be paying for your education, so it’s best not to take a gamble on something you’re unsure of!
Almost any pharmacy tech training program you come across will offer the opportunity to gain hands-on experience. You’ll be placed in a pharmacy under the supervision of a certified pharmacist to learn how the pharmacy operates and what your future responsibilities will be.
This training is crucial to your education, because you simply can’t learn everything about the pharmacy in the classroom. You’ll also learn how to interact with patients and the code of ethics you must follow while working in the pharmacy.
Having hands-on experience looks great on a resume, and in most cases, the program will have a partnership with the pharmacy you work in and can even offer job placement after graduation.
Pass the PTCE Exam
Once you complete your program, you’ll need to pass the PTCE exam in order to become a certified pharmacy technician. The exam consists of multiple choice questions, and comes with a fee of $129. You can find more information on the exam here.
Once you pass your exam and meet all other requirements in your state, you’ll receive your certification and can begin working in the field. Congratulations on making it this far!
A Passion For Helping People
As a pharmacy tech, you’ll be helping patients get their medications. According to this article, around 66% of US adults use prescription medications. That means millions of people every day depend on a pharmacy to provide them with their much-needed medications. A passion for helping others can help you obtain a sense of fulfillment in the field, and ensure that you’re doing a great job in your new position.
You don’t have to work in a retail or drug store in order to help people, either. Nursing homes, hospice care centers, and even hospitals employ pharmacy technicians to assist in getting patients their medications. You have plenty of options to choose from!
You’re only getting your foot in the door with a pharmacy tech certification. You can easily continue your education and move on to become a pharmacist if you so choose. Many techs work for a few years while continuing their education, and then move up to the lead pharmacist position in the organization they work for.
The Bottom Line
Becoming a pharmacy technician can offer a rewarding career path. You’ll have opportunities to advance, the ability to help people on a daily basis, and an advanced understanding of the importance of prescription medications to patient health. If you’re compassionate, driven, and like helping others, this might be the perfect career path for you. Check your local universities or online certification programs to get started as soon as possible.