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How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Certified pharmacy technician job growth is continuing to expand at a rate of about 25% through the year 2018. The reason for the uptick is twofold. Pharmacies were once an individual establishments, but have morphed into departments within retail stores over the years, and theĀ ageingĀ population is living longer and using more medication than ever before. Licensed Pharmacists are having a hard time keeping up with business and they are relying on techs to perform some of the tasks.

For those learning how to become a pharmacy technician, they can expect to find job security with excellent benefits, flexible work schedules and very competitive salaries. The certified pharmacy technician works under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist and is tasked with filling a prescription from start to finish.

After receiving the prescription by telephone or electronically, the technician verifies the accuracy and validity of the prescription, enters the prescription into the pharmacy data base, alerts the pharmacist if there is an issue with the prescription, retrieves the proper amount of the medication and mixing the components when necessary, bottles the medication in the proper container and adds the proper labeling to the container.

Certification Training

To begin the certified pharmacy technician process, the candidate must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for school application. There are a great many schools that offer programs in this field and that offer certificates of completion, diplomas and associate degrees.

The program chosen depends on the level of technician desired. Some thought should be given to the long term when choosing a program of study. If the long-term goal is to use being a certified pharmacy technician as a stepping stone to further education and an eventual career as a licensed pharmacist, an associate degree program should be chosen.

If the goal is to get into the work force as quickly as possible, a certificate or diploma program will fit the bill. However, a degree will give the candidate the edge when it comes to being hired and establishing a salary, and an associate degree is about a 2 year process.

State Requirements

Not all states require pharmacy technicians to be certified. Even if the state where you will work does not require certification, consider adding that to your repertoire of things to do on the road to becoming a certified pharmacy technician. Being certified not only improves the chances of being hired, but it helps demonstrate your ability to do the job and may be the deciding factor when being considered for employment.


As far as pharmacy technician jobs you will find work in hospitals, care facilities, wholesale facilities as well as the traditional pharmacy, whether it is an independent store or part of a nationwide chain. Most schools have placement programs for its students as well as sponsor career events and invite potential employers to interview the upcoming graduates.

Search online job postings for potential employment leads. One of the best ways to find a job is to contact every facility in your area or the area you wish to work and ask about job openings. Send your resume and a copy of your certification if you have it and send it off to potential employers. Follow up with a phone call in about a week or two if you have not heard from them.

Career Opportunities For The Certified Pharmacy Technician

The past few years has seen explosive growth in the healthcare industry and specifically in the pharmaceutical industry. The pharmaceutical industry offers a host of different career opportunities. Pursuing a career in this feild presents opportunities for stability and advancement in the chosen field.

Their job is to be of assistance to the lead pharmacist. This will include such activities as helping the pharmacist to fill prescriptions, counting out pills, mixing up medicinal liquids and assisting customers. However, giving advice to customers is generally not acceptable for a technician as this is the domain of the pharmacist.

Some of the duties and responsibilities of a certified pharmacy technician includes:

    • Taking prescription orders from customers
    • Recording patient information into the computer records of the pharmacy including maintaining records of the health and insurance information for each customer
    • Filling prescriptions and helping customers is the first thing you learn when studying how to become a pharmacy technician
    • Taking telephone order from customers and physicians and completing telephone orders from pharmaceutical companies
    • Assisting the pharmacists in the management of the pharmacy
    • Customer service for the pharmacy
    • Preparing bulk medicines for firms or companies
    • Assisting in the preparation of compounded medicines under the direction of the pharmacist
    • Assuring that drug interactions and complications information is prepared and available for every drug and prescription

The technician’s role is to help run the pharmacy. They need to learn to maintain the stock of needed medicines and make sure that the drugs and pharmaceuticals are stored correctly. This requires a detailed record of which medicines are most often prescribed and learning how to keep pharmaceutical inventories up to date. It is often their job to make sure the the needed drugs and pharmaceuticals are in stock.

Those who work in nursing homes or hospitals may have the additional responsibilities of assisting patients. However, they are not licensed to dispense advice or to give prescriptions so any assistance of patients will be under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, physician or other medical professional.

Education Requirements

The education requirements is generally an associate’s degree, however, there are programs that are less advanced that may be shorter yet only impart the basic skills necessary. The diploma programs or the associate degrees are more advanced and more recognized by employers. These programs usually take at least a year of study to complete and then you can get pharmacy technician certification.

The opportunities for advancement is based upon time and seniority. You cannot advance into the position of a pharmacist as that takes significantly more education. However, if you are interested in becoming a pharmacist being a assistant is very good experience. You can find more information at the US Department of Labor.

For those learning how to become a pharmacy technician can expect a pharmacy technician salary that is pretty good. It can range from about $16000.00 a year to $25,000.00 a year with increases based upon cost-of-living raises and salary increases that come with seniority, after 20 years the salary may be as high as $45000.00 a year. The salary of a pharmacist starts out at around $70000.00 a year, however, their responsibilities are much greater and there educational requirements are significantly more than that of the certified pharmacy technician.

Filed in: Pharmacy Technician, Pharmacy Technician Career

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