Steps to Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

The average pharmacy fills about 400 prescriptions per day, so the pharmacy technician plays an integral role in helping the store run smoothly. A technician's job varies from place to place, but generally includes tasks such as greeting customers, entering prescription information, counting pills, handling insurance problems, and maintaining the pharmacy's organization. Below are some steps you can take on your journey to finding pharmacy technician jobs.

There are two types of technicians: certified and uncertified. Uncertified technicians generally make less money than certified technicians. Certified techs may also find it easier to find a job than their inexperienced, uncertified counterparts.

The Certification Process
In order to hold the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CphT), you must pass a certification exam. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) consists of 90 questions, which you have 110 minutes to complete. The exam has three sections: patient services, medication control, and pharmacy maintenance. Final scores range from 300-900, with 650 being a passing score. You have three attempts to pass the exam but must wait 30 days between retakes.

The exam is administered year round in over 200 cities across the US. All exams are proctored and registered through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. The exam fee costs $100-200, so you will want to prepare carefully.

On-Job Training
One way to learn more about a pharmacy is to get a job as a pharmacy clerk. Clerks handle patient relations taking prescriptions at the in-counter, ringing up prescriptions for patients, and stocking shelves. A clerk cannot handle the medication, as a technician can.  However, while working as a clerk, you can learn more about what the pharmacy technician jobs entail.

You can also works as a non-certified technician to become familiar with the job description. You will likely make less money than the certified techs. But, after you feel more comfortable with your career, you can register for the test, leading to an increase in your pharmacy technician salary!

What to Study
Like any other test, the PTCE has many books and sample tests to help you prepare for the exam. These books cover basic math skills, how to read a prescription, pharmacy laws, and customer service practices. All pharmacy practices must be overseen by a licensed pharmacist, so the pharmacy technician plays an integral role in knowing what he or she is and is not allowed to do. This information will help you prepare for the exam and can be found in the many practice tests and study guides both online and in local bookstores.

Should I Take Classes?

Many online and trade schools offer classes for becoming a certified pharmacy technician. However, these classes do not ensure that you will pass the PTCE. They will help prepare you for the exam, but all candidates take the same exam, regardless of whether they have in-class training or not.

Many people have different opinions about these classes usefulness. On one hand, they provide the background knowledge necessary to take the PTCE. In addition to basic classes in math, biology, chemistry, and customer service, most schools have a hands-on laboratory. The mock pharmacy provides students with experience in reading and entering prescriptions, using pill counters, printing labels, and role playing with difficult patients.

However, these programs are quite expensive. A pharmacy technician salary varies from company to company, as well as with experience and length of employment. The average annual salary is around $25,000. Be sure to weigh the cost of the training program with your future salary before enrolling in these courses.

A pharmacy needs many people to run efficiently, and the pharmacy technician plays an integral role. When choosing whether or not to become a certified pharmacy technician, look at your options carefully, get as much on-the-job experience as you can, talk to other techs and pharmacists, and study, study, study!

Category: Pharmacies