Your Path to Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Required Courses
  • Pharmaceutical Terminology
  • Pharmaceutical Calculations
  • Pharmacy Techniques
  • Chemistry
  • Record Keeping
  • Pharmacy Law and Ethics

As a pharmacy technician you will assist licensed pharmacists in receiving and refilling patient and doctor's office prescription requests. You will verify that information is accurate and compete. You will count, weigh, and measure medications. After gathering the medications and depositing them in bottles, you will then label them.

Within the pharmacy you will maintain patient profiles and records. You will prepare insurance claims and paperwork. You will stock and take medication inventory. Other duties may include answering phone calls and operating cash registers.

To become a pharmacy technician you should complete formal training and adhere to state regulations. Employers favor applicants with degrees and pharmacy experience.

Step 1 Education

Programs are generally six months to two years. These programs include both classroom and laboratory work. An associate degree will provide you with advanced knowledge and skills. Informal training is sometimes available on the job. It generally can last up to three months.

In most states technicians must be registered with the state. Some states also require certification. Certification is offered through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. They administer national certification examinations. Employers may reimburse the exam expenses.

Every two years you will have to be recertified. Recertification requires twenty hours of continued education. It is possible to complete ten hours of your continued education on the job under pharmacist supervision.

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Step 2 Job Search

Completing an internship after or during your education will open doors to future employment. You will learn on the job skills and form associations with experienced pharmacy professionals.

Another way to get your foot in the door is to volunteer. You could help out in a local hospital or neighborhood pharmacy. You will learn what is expected of a pharmacy technician. Use volunteer time to refine your customer service skills. Your increased skills and experience will give you an edge up on your competition.

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics expects employment of pharmacy technicians to grow much faster than average. Job opportunities are projected to be good. Most technicians are employed in retail facilities or hospitals.

Step 3 Career

Your salary on average will range between $10.95 and $15.88 an hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Those with advanced degrees and experience have higher earning potential.

Pharmacy Technicians work forty hours a week on a varying schedule. You may often be required to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Generally you will work in clean facilities that are open 24 hours a day. You will work mostly on your feet and may be required to lift heavy boxes or reach supplies from tall shelves.

Career advancement opportunities are limited. Those with significant training can be promoted to supervisory positions. Those with special knowledge can transition into positions such as nuclear pharmacy technician or chemotherapy technician. Sales positions are also available. With more training you could eventually become a licensed pharmacist.