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What Does It Take to Be a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacies can be found in numerous retail markets now and the need for pharmacy technicians to handle inventories, assist pharmacists, help customers and perform exceptional work, such as mixing medications for patients for their specific needs.

Why Become a Pharmacy Technician?

If you’ve already decided that a pharmacy technician might be an occupation choice for you because you enjoy helping people, there are these other benefits to consider such as job security, excellent pay with the potential to grow, continual learning and a rapidly growing field.

Types of Programs

There are different programs available to earn a pharmacy technician certification. You will want to decide on whether you would like to go for a full degree or a certificate.

  • Certificate programs are a great choice if you are changing careers and are looking to make a quick and smooth transition into a new field. A certificate program takes approximately a year and is focused exclusively on the profession of a pharmacy technician. In the end, there is the opportunity to gain hands-on job experience where you learn the day to day experiences of pharmacy technicians.
  • Associate degree program (AA) is two years and results in receiving distinguished credentials and provides a foundation to build upon. With an AA, you have a transcript of accredited courses that can apply to a four-year degree later.

What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?

Pharmacy technicians act as the middle ground between customers and the pharmacist. Pharmacy techs provide customer service to patients, and relay customers needs to the pharmacists. The job also entails maintaining inventory, mixing medicines, stocking machines.

There are many different environments that pharmacy technicians can work in, such as hospitals, mail-order pharmacies, chain drug stores, big-box retail, wholesale druggist, and independent drugstores.

  • Hospital pharmacy technicians will form IV medications and do laboratory preparation to ensure patients are receiving what they need. It might include extensive cleaning to guarantee sterility and a safe pharmaceutical environment.
  • Retail pharmacy technicians are more in the public eye and deal with patients directly who need medicine. A retail pharmacy technician is probably going to be asked about the administration of medication, including dosages, and should medication be taken on an empty stomach or with food.
  • Mail-Order pharmacy technicians will work more in an office environment where they file prescriptions from workstations. A regular day for pharmacy techs might include meetings with pharmacists and other techs, preparing medicines, maintaining patient databases, filling vials of medicine, and inventory maintenance.

Steps to Become a Pharmacy Tech

The steps to becoming a pharmacy technician are quite straightforward:

  • Step 1 – have an interest in pharmaceuticals and medicines that help in people’s recovery from illness.
  • Step 2 – find accredited programs to earn a pharmacy technician certificate.
  • Step 3 – complete the certificate or degree program for pharmacy technicians
  • Step 4 – complete an internship to gain hands-on work experience in a pharmacy as a technician
  • Step 5 – form contact in the medical and pharmacy industry
  • Step 6 – develop and hone your skills needed to be successful as a pharmacy technician
  • Step 7 – apply to a pharmacy that would best suit your interests or needs, such as a hospital, national chain drugstore, big-box retailer, or independent pharmacy.

Most pharmacy technicians are certified. The Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) is received by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).

To earn a certificate, participants must complete hundreds of hours of on-the-job training to work with different prescription drugs, understand pharmacy operations and protocol, and to practice ethical standards.