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How To Become A Pharmacy Technician

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Becoming a pharmacy technician can be a straightforward path into one of the largest industries in the country - healthcare. Allied healthcare workers tend to enjoy competitive salaries and the joy of knowing that their duties and responsibilities help save numerous lives every single day.

Moreover, there is quite a significant demand for pharmacy technicians, and according to expert projections, the market is set to increase even more shortly.

So, a career as a pharmacy technician is appealing. But how exactly can one go about becoming one? And what are the steps and challenges involved? We take a detailed look below.

Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

People become pharmacy technicians for a handful of reasons. For one, being a pharmacy technician provides a veritable career opportunity with lots of flexibility. Interested individuals can, for example, work part-time or full-time in several facilities, including hospitals, specialized pharmacies, ambulatory clinics, and physician’s offices.

Secondly, healthcare remains a fast-growing industry with plenty of growth opportunities.

There is also the fact that becoming a pharmacy technician usually requires less than four years of college education.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician - Step-by-Step Guide

There may be several paths to becoming a pharmacy technician, but all of them share the same structure, which we outline below.

Step 1: Enroll and Complete a Training Program

Like most occupations, the level of education you can attain before you begin to practice goes a long way in how far you’ll go. And even though you can technically start a career as a pharmacy technician with a high school diploma and on-the-job training, many choose to go through accredited programs.

Thankfully, there are plenty of respectable pharmacy technician programs nationwide. Most of these programs are capable of helping you cultivate a love for the profession while attaining all the skills you’d need to thrive.

When researching and applying for a pharm tech program, it is essential to be on the lookout for accredited programs, ideally with externship components, to acquire real-world clinical experience.

Step 2: Prepare for Certification

One of the significant advantages of going through a pharmacy technician program, particularly an accredited one, is that it makes the task of becoming certified relatively easy.

Certification opens you up to more employment opportunities and a better salary potential, but most of all, it is made possible by enrolling in solid programs.

Graduates of pharm tech may choose to take their certification exams the same month after graduating.

Things to Know About Certification

Pharmacy Technician certification exams vary in requirements and content depending on your chosen certification. Generally, however, it is reasonable to expect most certification exams to test candidates on subjects in physiology, medical terminology, healthcare systems, pharmacology, anatomy, pharmaceutical calculations, and pharmacy law and ethics.

Again, requirements may vary from organization to organization, but they all tend to require significant work experience, which most graduates acquire through an externship.

Step 3: The PTCB Exam

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Examination, known as the PTCB Exam for short, is one of the premier certification alternatives for pharmacy technicians. Some states require all technicians to acquire this certification before they’re allowed to practice professionally.

In states where it is not mandatory, it is still highly valued by employers and could be the difference between having numerous options and having none at all.

Preparing for the Examination

The PTCB examination seeks to test candidates on general topics involved in pharm tech. Most accredited programs would have most of the covered topics in their curriculum, but you should check the PTCB portal for more information so that you can review key issues.

Applying for the Examination

To apply for the PTCB Exam, candidates must first confirm eligibility on the portal. Once eligible, they may apply by registering on the portal and paying the $129 examination fee.

Candidates who pass the examination will officially receive the designation of certified pharmacy technician and have completed a significant career milestone.

Step 4: Apply for a Job

The two major things you’d need to apply for a job as a pharmacy technician are your training program certificate/degree and your certified status. Once you have both of these, you can apply for jobs in any suitable establishment.

As a pharmacy technician, you can work in a hospital or similar hospital settings, in a community pharmacy such as drug stores or local grocery stores, or in a mail-order pharmacy where you can work behind the scenes and serve an extensive range of customers.

Pharmacy technicians who wish to enjoy a genuine connection with patients may also choose to work in care homes.

Job Outlook

Pharmacy Technicians can also reveal that the field already has a positive outlook regarding employment rate. Moreover, projections show this will continue well into the next decade.

Sixteen thousand six hundred new jobs will be created through 2030 as demand for pharmacy technicians continues to increase, thanks to an aging population of baby boomers and advancements in pharmaceutical technology.

Step 5: Continuing Education

Lastly, it is essential to note that education for a pharmacy technician continues. Even after graduating from a program and acquiring certification, technicians are expected to keep up with advancements and innovations in the field through continuing education.

Hence, to renew their PTCB certification, certified pharmacy technicians must go through continuing education. Restoring the certificate is mandatory and is carried out every two years.

Please renew certification so that a pharmacy technician is certified and must stop identifying themselves with the designation of CPhT (Certified Pharmacy Technician).

Consequently, they will only be able to enjoy some of the perks and benefits of being certified and may even lose their current employment.