Working as a pharmacy technician can be a very good way to get into the healthcare industry. But you need a pharm tech certification to accomplish this.
A pharmacy technician administers medical, customer service, information, and support to customers. They work in different sectors including retail pharmacies, hospitals, and care homes.
The job of a pharm tech is in high demand and the incentive attached is well documented. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for pharmacy technicians was $36,740 in May 2021. The smallest 10 percent earned less than $28,740, and the biggest 10 percent earned more than $47,580.
A growing population combined with the evolving of healthcare institutions means that there are more patients for pharmacies. That’s why pharmacy technician jobs are high in demand and are growing faster than degree programs can produce them.
What Do Pharmacy Technicians Do?
Pharm techs work in pharmacies and hospitals, apart from helping pharmacists. Listed below are some of the functions a pharm tech performs:
- Label prescribed medicines
- package, store, and organize medications
- Assist with vaccinations
- Record patients’ medical records
- Process paperwork from health insurance
- Answer customer phone calls
- Collect money from customers
- Assist customers with answers to simple questions like drugs dosage or prescription
- Measure medications
- Preparing medications using sterile and non-sterile processes
Depending on the state, pharmacy technicians may also handle simple medical tasks, like vaccinations. Qualified pharmacy technicians work behind the scenes to assist patients and other members of the health care team.
How to Earn Your Pharmacy Technician Certification
Many states require pharmacy technicians to be verified and qualified, which is why earning your pharm tech certification is important.
Follow these steps to learn how to earn your certification as a pharmacy technician.
1. Acquire Your HighSchool Diploma
It is required that the applicant have at least a high school education. You don’t need a bachelor’s degree or a large sum of money.
Four GCSEs (all you need is at least an A to C grade in Mathematics, English, and Science).
2. Take the PTCB Test
Obtaining a Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), if verified, is important to work as a pharmacy tech in some states. You can take the exam after concluding an education program acknowledged by the PTCB.
Practicing with the same layout as the real exam will help you prepare better. You can write a free pharmacy technician practice test online to simulate real exam conditions. The questions on the practice exams are about common pharmacy technician knowledge and responsibilities.
It is advisable to take the pharm tech certification practice test to get familiar with the layout before the exam. Pharmacy tech certification programs usually cover the following subjects:
- Pharmacy law and ethics
- Medical terminology
- Pharmaceutical calculations
- Healthcare systems
3. Apply for the Exam
The exam is computer-based, it involves 90 questions and takes about two hours to complete. With the help of a pharmacy tech practice test, taking the exam will become easier.
The exam includes sections on:
- Medical safety
- Pharmacy laws
- Information systems
If qualified, it is important to apply for the exam in person via the PTCB portal. You can decide to study full-time or part-time.
4. Get a Passing Score
After concluding the exam, you will receive a preceding score that gives you an idea of how well you did. After two to three weeks you’ll get your final score.
If you pass the exam, you will receive a physical certificate and a digital badge you can add to your resume. If you fail you can retake it up to three times.
5. Obtain Your License
After you earn your pharmacy technician certification, you might also need to apply for a state license depending on where you work and live.
Some retail pharmacies can provide job training that can help you get your pharmacy tech license.
6. Apply For a Job As a Pharmacy Technician
As a recently certified pharmacy technician, looking for jobs within your field can do well to your certification. You can complete specialized training to serve as a general pharmacy technician or central pharmacy operations technician.
As a pharmacy technician, you are opportune to work in a different environment. It is important to think about your future workplace and what you want to get from there.
If you would like to work in a fast-moving environment, you can work in a hospital. Those who want to have a real link with the patient can work in care homes or homes for the elderly.
Pharm techs who are talented in customer service can take up a job as a retailer in a pharmacy. Those with enthusiasm for mixing drugs could take on compound pharmacy.
7. Gain Customer Service Experience
Having professional experience associating with customers can look good to managers hiring or looking for professional technicians.
You can work as a retail co-worker or volunteer at an establishment that can give you experience working with other people.
8. Meet Continuing Educational Request
Getting your certification is an important pharmacy technician tip for your career journey but it’s by no means the end of your education.
To continue your pharmacy technician certification, you must maintain 20 hours of continuing education every two years. You can decide to take the course online or in person.
You can find educational opportunities through a diversity of professional organizations, like:
- The National Healthcare Association (NHA),
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
- National Pharmacy Technician Association.
Other activities include seminars, conferences, workshops, and college education.
9. Keeping Up to Date with New Medications
As a pharmacy technician, you should be up to date with new medications. It is essential to maintain knowledge of changes in the industry. More drugs and brands are constantly being introduced to the market, so stay updated.
One of the biggest benefits to a career as a pharm tech doesn’t revolve around pay, but around service. Giving help to those who need your service brings fulfillment.
Choosing to become a pharmacy technician won’t be the final stop on your career path. The quick time you can use to complete your training makes it a great option right now, but as you grow, you will have opportunities to progress in the future.