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.

Job Duties

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 any of a variety of pharmacy environments, such as a retail setting or mail-order pharmaceuticals company.

Education Requirements

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 1-2 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's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 213 pharmacy technician programs had accreditation from the American Society of Health System Pharmacists in 2012 (www.bls.gov).

In a pharmacy technology program, you might take courses in the following topics:

  • Medical law and ethics
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacy terminology
  • Pharmacy math
  • Biology

Along with classroom lectures, these programs incorporate hands-on, supervised training in pharmacy environments.

Licensure

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.

Certification

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, 20% employment growth is expected for pharmacy technicians over the 2012-2022 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 2012, the average salary for pharmacy technicians was $30,430. Most of these professionals $20,580 and $42,400, reported the BLS.

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