Deciding on a career path after high school is a daunting prospect for most students. The same is true for workers tired of their current occupation and who want to try a new career path.
Why not consider choosing a job that aligns with your natural interests? Are you fascinated by science, particularly chemistry? Why not consider becoming a pharmacy technician?
What Is a Pharmacy Technician?
Customers interact with pharmacy technicians when they buy their prescription medication. Pharmacy technicians are a vital link between pharmacists and customers. They help prepare and dispense medicine, under the direction of pharmacists.
Depending on where you work, daily tasks for pharmacy technicians include:
- Preparing medication according to prescription orders
- Labeling medications
- Recording amounts and dosages of medications
- Administrative work such as insurance paperwork
- Managing supplies
Hospitals, drugstores, and other organizations that have in-house pharmacies hire pharmacy technicians. The role has options for both part-time and full-time work hours.
Requirements for Becoming a Pharmacy Technician
There are three basic steps on the path to becoming a pharmacy technician. First is getting a high school diploma, second is training for the job, and finally, passing the PTCB exam. Here are the details:
1. Get a high school diploma.
The first hurdle to becoming a pharmacy technician is to get your high school diploma. If you haven’t graduated from high school, you can get your GED certification. Once you have this, you will be eligible to train to become a pharmacy technician via one of two routes. We’ll discuss those in the next item in this list.
2. Training to be a pharmacy technician through:
- Work experience. Train in a pharmacy and gain at least 500 hours of on-the-job training. This route gives applicants first-hand experience and mastery of day-to-day tasks. It is a more practical approach for those who cannot engage in full-time study.
- Enroll in an accredited program. Complete an industry-recognized education or training program. There are thousands of pharmacy technician accredited training programs to choose from. The PTCB website has a page dedicated to this. Completing this will qualify you for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) exam. You also qualify for the PTCB exam if you have a pharmacy degree, according to the PTCB website.
3. Pass the PTCB exam.
Register for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board exam at the PTCB website. The PTCB test is available throughout the year. The exam tests for knowledge that are imperative for a pharmacy technician to master. It is an industry-standard and a must for employment in 21 states. Its completion will earn the candidate the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).
Aspiring technicians should prepare well for the exam. Most use PTCB practice tests to prepare. Using a PTCB study guide will likewise help increase your readiness to take the PTCB exam.
Demand For Pharmacy Technicians
It is not evident but pharmacy technician jobs are available throughout the country. There are 27,000 drug store pharmacies across the country, so it should not come as a surprise. With projected increases of .02 percent noted per year, employment will not be a problem. Texas, California, Florida, Illinois, and New York hire the most number of technicians. Meanwhile, Kentucky, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Maine, and Arkansas have the most jobs.
Not only is it in demand, but the job pays a decent rate, too. In May 2020, the median annual wage for pharmacy technicians was $35,100, or an average of $16.87 per hour. Looking for above-average pay? Seek jobs in outpatient care centers, educational institutions, laboratories, and local government. Pharmacy technicians work both in storefronts and in organizations with pharmacies.
PTCB Exam and PTCB Practice Tests
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board is the agency that conducts the exam. The exam has 90-questions and is computer-based. It tests applicants’ knowledge on the following topics:
- Federal requirements
- Patient safety and quality assurance, and
- Order entry and processing
Questions are in a multiple-choice format with four options from which to choose. Examiners grade 80 out of the 90 questions. The remaining ten non-scored questions will be randomly-distributed throughout the test. To pass the test and become certified, examinees should get a score of 1400 out of a possible 1600.
The PTCB holds exams year-round. Testing locations for Pearson VUE are located throughout the United States and its territories.
PTCB study guides, PTCB practice tests, and reference manuals prepare examinees for exams. There are plenty of resources available on the internet. These help aspiring technicians review the knowledge they gained from training and education. It is important to check that resources come from reputable websites.
Certified pharmacy technicians must pursue continuing education to prove mastery of their job. Passing these courses allows them to maintain their certified status. Other certifications include Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician and Advance Certified Pharmacy Technician. These three certifications entitle the technician to use post-nominals after their names.
The PTCB also offers short courses called certified programs for career progression. These are programs that test for mastery of PTCB education or training programs. The short courses are stand-alone and do not need continuing education. They also do not qualify enrollees to post-nominals upon completion.
The labor bureau projects a steady 4% increase in the demand for pharmacy technicians. This projection is for the decade covering 2020 to 2030. This cumulative increase is equal to approximately 31,700 job openings each year. This increase includes job openings due to career changes or retirement. An extra 16,600 new pharmacy technicians will join the workforce by the end of the decade.
Pharmacy technicians have an important role in our community. The aging and diseased population will fuel increased demand for pharmacy services. The answer is to increase the number of pharmacy technicians. It has shorter programs or work experience requirements compared to other science-related courses. Yet, it is a stable career path and continues to experience an increase in demand.
This article provides an overview of the career of a pharmacy technician. The aim is to help you decide if this is suitable for you. It can be a rewarding and meaningful career for those who are interested in this field.
An author of Namaste UI, published several articles focused on blogging, business, web design & development, e-commerce, finance, health, lifestyle, marketing, social media, SEO, travel.
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