Pharmacy technicians work alongside licensed pharmacists to care for patients and their pharmaceutical needs. Read further to learn the process of becoming a pharmacy technician, along with exploring some schools offering online, accredited, programs.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
The primary responsibility of a pharmacy technician is to collect patient prescriptions for pharmacists to fill, prepare the labeling and packing of medications, update patient records in the computer system, and to contact insurance companies regarding prescriptions.
Other responsibilities of pharmacy technicians include but are not limited to:
- Answer phone calls
- Connect patients to the pharmacist for questions
- Organize and keep track of medical inventory
- Ensure prescription accuracy and patient safety by verifying any needed patient info
- Discuss any issues with insurance companies
- Use of an automated dispense system (if the pharmacy has one)
Pharmacy technicians may work in retail pharmacies (including drug stores) or hospitals. Those who work in hospitals may also compound medical mixtures, assist with inpatient and outpatient dispensing, and make rounds to patients to deliver medication.
How to Become a Pharmacy Technician
To become a pharmacy technician, you can either receive an associate degree from a community college, or a certificate from a vocational school or accredited program. Before enrolling in either, you will need to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent.
Both an associate degree and certificate will provide you with the training you need to have a rewarding career as a pharmacy technician. The type of training you choose depends on your learning style, budget, and the amount of time you wish to spend in school.
Classes in a Pharmacy Technician Program
Whether you receive an associate degree or certificate, the classes you end up taking will cover similar material, including but not limited to:
- Laws and regulations
- Reading and interpreting prescriptions
- Healthcare/patient communication
- Diagnostic procedures
- Sterile and non-sterile compounding
- Dispensing medication and medication safety
Along with your classes, you will likely have a clinical portion of training to complete. This can vary depending on your school or program, but typically takes place in a pharmacy setting, preparing students for their eventual career.
Pharmacy Technician Certification
To earn your pharmacy technician certification, you will need either a high school diploma or a GED equivalent, and you will need to have completed a certificate or associate degree program.
Certifications are granted either by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Health Association (NHA). Certification through the NHA will require you to complete one year of work experience and to finish a training program.
Certification through the PTCB will require you to pass an exam.
To take the PTCB exam, you will need to:
- Complete an accredited, PTCB-recognized education/training program, or have equivalent work experience (minimum of 500 working hours)
- Pass a background check
- Comply with all applicable PTCB certification policies
The fee for taking the PTCB exam is $129.00 according to ptcb.org (2022). After completing either an accredited certificate program or earning your associate degree, you should feel ready to take the PTCB exam. There are, however, more tools available online to help you. You can take practice online PTCB certification exams here.
Online Pharmacy Technician Programs
There are many online pharmacy technician programs that students can choose from. It is important to ensure the program you choose is accredited – it affects your eligibility for certification and any possible career advancement.
Listed below are a few outstanding online programs offered by partner schools.
San Joaquin Valley College
The online pharmacy technician program at San Joaquin Valley College was created to prepare students to work under the guidance of licensed pharmacists. SJVC prides themselves on offering hands-on training combined with outstanding online education. The objective of SJVC’s pharmacy technician program is to prepare students to take the PTCB exam.
Pima Medical Institute
The online pharmacy technician program at Pima Medical Institute provides a mixture of structured online education, combined with hands-on laboratory experience. Student resources are provided at Pima Medical Institute including mental health resources, tutoring, and externship placement programs.
The online pharmacy technician program at Fortis provides students with the opportunity to work in both hospitals and retail pharmacies under the supervision of an experienced pharmacist. Fortis offers instruction not only in medication and pharmaceutical basics, but also in the legal responsibilities of technicians as well.
The online pharmacy technician program at Carrington College provides both theory and practical training to prepare students to take the PTCB exam. Formal classroom training is combined with online instruction to give students a balanced hybrid curriculum. Carrington also offers externships at local partner facilities.
Pharmacy Tech Salary Stats
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians made an average of $37,970, with the top 10 percent earning $47,580 in 2021. By 2030, demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase slightly by 4 percent, adding an estimated 16,600 jobs nationwide.
If working alongside a pharmacist to better the lives of patients sounds like the career for you, find a pharmacy technician program near you today!
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