How to Become a Pharmacy Tech?
Pharmacy technicians aid pharmacists with their daily tasks and assist patients in getting prescription drugs. Measurement, packing, and labeling medications are only a few responsibilities that fall within their domain.
In retail pharmacies, pharmacy techs receive consumer prescriptions and insurance information and process payments. They may also set up consultations with clients who want the pharmacist’s advice.
In addition to the duties of a retail pharmacy technician, pharmacy techs may work in hospital pharmacies. Here they have to prepare drugs for intravenous administration and transport medications to patients across the hospital.
Are you wondering about becoming a pharmacy technician? Well, then, keep reading this article to learn more about pharmacy technicians and how to become one.
What are the Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Technician?
Between the pharmacist and the client, pharmacy technicians serve as the intermediary. They assist patients with their requirements and communicate those needs to the pharmacists.
Pharmacy techs even stock equipment in addition to compounding medications and maintaining the inventory.
So, if you want to become one, check out the following crucial responsibilities of a pharmacy technician.
- Accurately calculating or measuring the dosage of medicines
- Recommending drugs to patients
- Combining different drug ingredients
- Requesting prescription renewal authorization from doctors
- Ordering and arranging the inventory
- Labeling and packaging prescription drugs
- Maintaining patient health records
- Updating data on the drug inventory
- Gathering financial and patient data
- Processing insurance documentation
- Running automated dispensing equipment
- Supporting vaccinations procedures
- Taking customer calls on the phone
- Processing insurance claims and taking prescription payments
- Facilitating client interactions with pharmacists
Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work?
Depending on the setting in which they operate, technicians have various unique responsibilities.
In Hospital Settings
- In hospitals, pharmacy technicians work with IV drugs and perform laboratory preparations to guarantee that patients receive proper care.
- The responsibility of upkeeping the drug-dispensary equipment that nurses rely on to quickly get medicines may fall on pharmacy techs in the hospital.
- Their lab work may also involve thorough cleaning to maintain sterility and provide the safest pharmaceutical environment.
In Retail Pharmacies
- Retail pharmacy technicians interact directly with clients who require prescription drugs and guidance to improve their quality of life.
- The techs may ask the pharmacist for the appropriate response when customer inquiries go beyond the area of their expertise.
- Pharmacy technicians must help patients know about the administration of a specific medication, such as the correct dosages and whether they need to take the medication with food or on an empty stomach.
- They also need to maintain the inventory in the retail sector.
Mail Order Pharmacy Techs
- A mail-order pharmacy technician work in a setting more like an office.
- They write prescriptions at a workstation among several other technicians.
- They may prepare compounds, keep patient records up to date, fill medication vials, and monitor drug inventory.
- Collaborating with pharmacists and other technicians is also one of the daily tasks of a mail-order pharmacy tech.
How to Become a Pharmacy Tech?
As an aspiring pharmacy technician, you must engage in organized training courses that will provide you with the specialized knowledge and abilities you need to guarantee excellent patient care.
Thus, the following steps may help you become ready for the job.
Step 1: Get a High School Diploma or GED
A firm grasp of high school subjects like math, chemistry, biology, and physiology is essential to becoming a successful pharmacy technician. Also, take biology, anatomy, or statistics classes to improve your comprehension of basic mathematical concepts and your awareness of human health.
You can better prepare for your duties as a pharmacy technician by taking math, science, and health courses.
Some students may even volunteer at this time to get hands-on experience in the industry and develop their skills by working at a hospital or similar healthcare facility.
However, if you are not currently enrolled in high school and have qualified long back, you may still enroll in professional training classes to prepare for a pharmacy technician job.
Step 2: Find the Right Pharmacy Technician Program
Each state has its requirements for pharmacy technicians’ education. Many pharmacy technician positions don’t require training or education beyond a high school diploma. Getting into a certificate or diploma program is the quickest way to become a pharmacy tech. You can easily complete them in 2 semesters or one year.
However, formal training can help increase your salary potential and employability. Several vocational institutions and community colleges provide courses for aspirant pharmacy technicians and may even grant associate degrees in the field. Community and technical institutions frequently take new admissions for their pharmacy technician training classes.
Both on-campus and online programs for the Pharmacy Technician Certificate are available. Courses in pharmacology, chemistry, pharmacy arithmetic, pharmacy technician duties, customer service, laboratory techniques, and pharmacy computer applications are required of students enrolled in pharmacy technician certificate programs.
Students enrolled in associate degree programs may also take many of these courses. However, they take additional general education courses and focus more on pharmacy-related subjects.
Besides, you also need to study record-keeping procedures, pharmacy law and ethics, medical terminology, and antiseptic methods in your training classes. However, some states will demand you qualify for a certification exam after completing your course and earning the degree.
Step 3: Opt for On-the-Job Training
Pharmacy techs can easily hone their skills in real pharmacy through an externship, frequently included in certificate and associate degree programs.
A nursing home, hospital, outpatient clinic, or retail pharmacy are some of the ideal student placement locations. A retail pharmacy collaborated with your enrolled school may offer a structured training program as a clinical experience.
Getting trained in retail and customer services can help you prepare for working with the public. In contrast, working in a medical setting, such as a hospital, doctor’s office, or laboratory, will expose you to various medical terminologies and aid your clinical understanding.
Besides, students may also decide to obtain on-the-job training without enrolling in a higher education program, depending on state legislation.
Step 4: Get Certification
Candidates who want to work as pharmacy techs in the healthcare industry must complete a certification test to become certified pharmacy technicians (CPhT). Although all jurisdictions do not require certification for pharmacy technicians, many companies or states prefer it.
You can check the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s (NABP) list of contact information for each state’s board to see whether your state requires a certification for pharmacy technicians.
Besides, pharmacy technicians must have high school graduation or GED, showcase proof of any criminal background, and complete a certification exam to receive a certificate from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The PTCB certification is recognized in all 50 states, while the NHA certification is recognized nationally.
However, some applicants try to add to their qualifications by earning other certifications, such as certified compounded sterile preparation technician (CSPT), after getting CPhT. The certification of technicians must be renewed every 2 years by meeting continuing education requirements.
The following are the 2 standard national certifications for pharmacy techs.
1. Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCE)
PTCB is in charge of administering the PTCE. After completing a training course approved by the standard body or 500 hours of pharmacy technician employment, you can sit for the test.
2. Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technician (ExCPT)
The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) oversees the ExCPT. You must have finished an authorized training course or at least 1,200 hours of pharmacy-related employment under supervision to become eligible for the test.
Career Prospects of Pharmacy Technicians
The need for pharmacy technicians is anticipated to expand at a pace of around 4% by the end of the decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). Thus, the demand for skilled pharmacy techs who can fill prescriptions safely and effectively while abiding by all requirements will continue to grow.
Over the next 10 years, 31,700 job vacancies for pharmacy technicians are expected yearly. So, it is a lucrative career path for people who want to work in the pharmacy industry.
Also, getting into the medical field as a pharmacy technician can open doors to great careers like a pharmacist, nursing assistant, or any other medical specialist.
How Much Does a Pharmacy Technician Make?
Although it varies by state, the median yearly pay for pharmacy technicians in 2020 was $35,100.
The top 10% earn more than $50,430 annually, compared to the least earning 10% who make less than $25,400. The states that pay pharmacy technicians the most on average are California, Alaska, Washington, the District of Columbia, and Oregon.
The highest median pay for pharmacy technicians is in ambulatory care facilities and hospitals. According to the BLS, the federal government, schools, universities, and outpatient care facilities offer the highest-paying employment.
However, pharmacy technicians who work in health and beauty supply stores and food and beverage outlets often earn less money annually.
Pharmacy technicians support pharmacists with their daily tasks and ensure that consumers get the proper prescriptions for their health. They manage stocks, serve clients, and carry out specialized tasks, including mixing drugs for individuals with extremely precise prescription requirements.
In addition to hospitals and care facilities, they operate in retail and compounding pharmacies. Pharmacy technicians may prepare drugs for infusions and distribute them to patients across the hospital. Also, pharmacy techs who have earned certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board are eligible for licensing in several states.