How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Interested in a career in pharmacy? Here’s everything you need to know about how to become a pharmacy technician from education requirements to job outlook

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Introduction

If you’re interested in a career in healthcare but don’t want to spend years in school, becoming a pharmacy technician might be a good fit for you. pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists to help dispense prescriptions and provide customer service in both retail and hospital settings.

While no formal education is required to become a pharmacy technician, most employers prefer candidates who have completed a pharmacy technician training program and/or have earned certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). In some states, pharmacy technicians may also be required to complete a background check and obtain a license.

Read on to learn more about what pharmacy technicians do, how to become one, and what you can expect from this growing healthcare career.

Prerequisites for Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

In order to become a pharmacy technician, there are a few things that you will need. First, you will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Next, you will need to complete an accredited pharmacy technician program. Finally, you will need to pass a national certification exam. Once you have met these requirements, you will be eligible to begin your career as a pharmacy technician.

age

You must be at least 18 years old to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT). Some states have additional age requirements.

education

Most pharmacy technician programs will require you to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, although some may ask that you have some college experience under your belt. You’ll also likely need to pass a criminal background check and have up to date immunizations. Some states might require you to become licensed, but this isn’t always the case.

certification

The majority of pharmacy technicians are certified through organizations such as the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). In order to be eligible for certification, candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent, and must pass a national certification exam. Some states also require pharmacy technicians to complete a formal training program and/or pass a state-specific exam.

Steps to Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Although a career as a pharmacy technician doesn’t require a college degree, you will need to complete a pharmacy technician training program and pass a national certification exam. The steps to becoming a pharmacy technician are: completing a training program, passing a national certification exam, and finding a job. Let’s get into the details.

completing an accredited pharmacy technician program

There are several steps to becoming a pharmacy technician. One of the most important is completing an accredited pharmacy technician program. There are many programs available, both online and in traditional classroom settings. Most last between six and twelve weeks, and all will include both classroom instruction and a period of internship in a real-world pharmacy setting.

After completing an accredited program, the next step is to take and pass the national certification exam. The pharmacy technician certification exam (PTCE) is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Once you have passed the PTCE, you will be officially certified as a pharmacy technician.

At this point, you may be able to find work in a pharmacy without any further formal education. However, many employers prefer to hire technicians who have completed at least some college coursework, so it is worth considering completing an Associate’s degree or even a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy technology. These programs typically take two to four years to complete, and will give you a more comprehensive education in both pharmaceuticals and general healthcare.

passing the pharmacy technician certification exam (PTCE)

To become a nationally certified pharmacy technician, you will need to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). The PTCE is a computer-based exam administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). To be eligible to take the PTCE, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent and successfully complete a pharmacy technician training program that has been accredited by either the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) or the National Healthcare Association (NHA).

The PTCE is comprised of 90 multiple-choice questions that cover four major content areas: medication safety, pharmacy quality assurance, medication order entry and fill process, and pharmacy inventory. The exam is offered year-round at testing centers across the United States. To find a testing center near you, visit the PTCB website.

To prepare for the PTCE, review the Candidate Handbook released by the PTCB. This handbook outlines exam content and format and provides sample test questions. Study guides and practice exams are also available from commercial providers such as Kaplan and Mosby’s.

applying for state registration

After you have completed a training program and gained the necessary experience, you will need to apply for state registration. The requirements for registration may vary from state to state, but in most cases, you will need to submit an application, pay a fee and take an exam. Once you have passed the exam and been registered, you will receive a license that must be renewed on a regular basis. In some states, you may also need to complete continuing education courses in order to maintain your registration.

Maintaining Certification

To maintain certification, pharmacy technicians must complete 20 hours of continuing education every 2 years. Some states have continuing education requirements for certification renewal. Pharmacy technicians can get continuing education credits by completing courses offered by colleges and universities, pharmacies, and pharmacy associations. Many employers also offer continuing education credits for their employees who are certified pharmacy technicians.

Conclusion

In order to become a pharmacy technician, you will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. You will also need to complete an accredited pharmacy technician training program. Once you have completed your training, you will need to pass a national certification exam.

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