What is a Pharmacy Tech?
Pharmacy technician is a profession that is expecting to grow by at least 12% in the period of 2016 – 2026, which, according to BLS, is a number that is considerably faster than the rest of occupations.
Without further ado let’s discover how to become a pharmacy tech.
Pharmacy techs work under the supervision of licenced pharmacists and their work is to help them with medication dispensing and other works related to running the pharmacy store.
The daily duties of a pharmacy tech are:
- Receiving written prescription requests
- Receiving written prescription refill requests
- Verifying that prescription information is accurate and complete.
- Answering telephones and the questions of customers
- Properly storing the drugs in a secure way
- Typing the labels for the bottles of the prescribed medication
- Answering simple questions of the customers
- Creating patient profiles and update them with the lists of medication taken by each patient
- Counting and check the medication stock and order more from the suppliers if needed
Like all customer service professionals, pharmacy technicians need to have strong communication skills, as their work is to assist customers, talk with pharmacists, medical representatives and other medical professionals.
When dealing with prescribed medication strong attention to details skills are really important.
Pharmacy Techs should follow specific instructions and before they dispense prescribed medication they must measure, weigh and dose it.
Finally, pharmacy techs need to have strong basic math knowledge as they will use principles like multiplication, division and subtraction daily in order to count pills and calculate dosages.
Pharmacy Techs work usually behind pharmacy counters at medical facilities, hospital, malls, grocery stores and nursing homes. Their work hours vary depending on the operating hours of the establishment they work at.
The average salary of a Pharmacy Technician is $32,700 per year, or $15.72 per hour.
Becoming a Pharmacy Tech
Step 1: High School Preparation
High School Courses for Pharmacy Techs
As we mentioned above, basic math is a vital skill for pharmacy technicians.
So when in high school choose math classes like algebra and calculus and even advanced placement math classes if possible.
Taking science courses like chemistry and biology in high school will help you with your coursework when you enter a training program, as you will have courses like pharmacology, advanced chemistry and anatomy.
Technology and computer classes
Consider taking technology and computer classes as all the paperwork you will have to do will be digitalized.
You will be working on computer systems registering medical records, creating patient profiles and updating them.
Step 2: Complete a Pharmacy Technician Accredited Program
Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program 4 months – 1 year
Pharmacy technician certificate programs are 18 to 40 semester credit hours that can be completed either online or on-campus.
The admission requirements are a high school diploma or something equivalent like a GED (General Education Development).
- Drug Classification
- Pharmaceutical Mathematics I
- Community Pharmacy Practice
- Professional Practices for Pharmacy Technicians
- Institutional Pharmacy Practice
- Pharmacotherapy and Disease Process
- Compounding Sterile Preparations and Aseptic Technique
- Pharmaceutical Mathematics II
- Clinical – Pharmacy Technician/Assistant
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Review
- Regulations for Drug Development
- Pharmacy Operations
- Prescribers of Drugs
- Veterinarians as Prescribers
- Drug Manufacturers, Monographs, and Package Inserts
- Label Preparation
- Dosage Forms and Routes of Administration
- Pharmaceutical Dispensing 1: General Considerations
- Pharmaceutical Dispensing 2: Solid Dose Forms
- Pharmaceutical Dispensing 3: Liquid Dose Forms – Oral
- Pharmaceutical Dispensing 4: Topical Dose Forms
- Pharmaceutical Dispensing 5: Miscellaneous Dose Forms
- Basic Chemistry of Drug Molecules
- Addictive Drugs
- Adverse Reactions/Drug Interactions
- Medical Terminology
- Anatomy and Physiology
The cost of a pharmacy technician certificate program is between $1,500 and $4,500.
Pharmacy Technician Associate’s Degree program 2 years
Pharmacy technician associate’s degree programs are 60 to 90 semester credit hours programs that can be completed either on-campus or online.
Admission requirements for these programs are a high school diploma or a GED and at some cases some prerequisite courses and an entrance test will be required.
General Education Requirements (25 credits)
- Principles of Ethics
- Cultural Diversity
- Fundamentals of Mathematics
- College Algebra
- General Science
- Social Psychology
- English Composition I
- Information Literacy
- Career Planning
- Business Mathematics
- College Algebra and Trigonometry
- Pre-Calculus I
- Physics I
- Introduction to General Chemistry
- Microbiology for Health Science
- Biology I
- Health in Society
- Critical Thinking
- Introduction to Psychology
Core Courses (35 credits)
- Anatomy and Physiology I
- Medical Terminology
- Basic Clinical Procedures
- Anatomy and Physiology II
- Pharmacology I
- Pharmacology II
- Medical Office Practice
- Pharmacy Calculations
- Institutional & Community Pharmacy Ops
- Institutional & Community Pharmacy Lab I
- Institutional & Community Pharmacy Lab 2
- Advanced Administration Technical Lab
- Pharmacy Maintenance, Safety & Quality A
- Administrative Inpatient and Outpatient
- Principles of Accounting I
- Introduction to Computer and Information Technology
- Pharmacy Procedures
- Essentials of Pharmacy Management
- Pharmacology and Drug Administration
- Medical Terminology for the Secretary
- Pharmacy Externship
Elective Courses (9 Credits)
- Business Communication
- MA110 Business Mathematics
- MD101 Clinical Procedures I
- Introduction to Medical Assisting and Medical Law/Ethics
- Keyboarding I
- Computerized Medical Billing and Coding
- Medical Secretary Practices
The cost of a pharmacy technician associate’s degree program is between $5,520 and $33,300.
Step 3: Meet your State’s Requirements
Most states have regulations for Pharmacy technicians.
The requirements are usually some hours of official training, passing an exam and paying the fees.
23 of 45 states include in their requirements the PTCE certification. We strongly recommend to contact your states board of Pharmacy and learn all the requirements in detail.
Step 4: Get Certified
There are 2 organizations issuing certifications for pharmacy technicians: the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
Pharmacy Technician Certification (CPhT)
Organization: National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- High school Diploma or GED
- Graduated an accredited training program within the last 5 years
- High school Diploma or GED
- 1 year of working experience with at least 1200 hours within the last 3 years
Pass a 110 questions written test within 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)
Organization: Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
High school Diploma or GED
Pass a 90 questions computer based, multiple choice test within 1 hour and 50 minutes.
How Long Does it take to Become a Pharmacy Technician and How Much does it Cost?
Option 1: Certificate
4 months – 1 year
$105 – $120
5 months – 1 year
$1,605 – $5,620
Option 2: Associate’s Degree
$5,520 to $33,300
$105 – $120
2 years & 1 month
$5,625 – $33,420