How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

September 12, 2013

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Are you interested in a healthcare career? Do you enjoy working with patients, but don’t necessarily want to administer direct hands-on care? Then a career as a pharmacy technician may be right for you. 

Under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, a pharmacy tech provides medication, information, customer service and support to patients. A pharmacy technician’s training includes learning about drugs, drug interactions and drug terminology. Pharmacy technicians are responsible for the safe and accurate dispensing of medications under the supervision of a licensed professional, answering customer questions, filling out insurance forms and updating electronic records.

While some employers may provide on-the-job training, most require successful completion of a diploma or degree program. To be certified, a pharmacy technician must pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam.

What Does it Take to be a Successful Pharmacy Technician?

A pharmacy technician can work in retail pharmacies, long term care facilities, hospitals and other medical facilities. The duties of the pharmacy technician can vary somewhat depending upon the setting. Under the supervision of a pharmacist, the pharmacy technician generally handles much of the routine clerking in a pharmacy such as accepting and double-checking prescriptions, maintaining computerized patient records or preparing prescription packets.

A pharmacy technician has the training and education to fill prescriptions and prepare labels. A pharmacy technician may also talk with a pharmacist about potential drug interactions or other risks. The work of the pharmacy technician is doubled-checked by the supervising pharmacist to ensure that errors do not occur. A successful pharmacy technician needs good computer skills, basic math skills and exceptional communication skills.

Key Skills for a Successful Career as a Pharmacy Technician

  • Good skills in math, spelling and reading
  • Attention to detail since you will be filling prescriptions and working with chemical and drug names
  • Background in chemistry, biology or health education
  • Familiarity with medical terminology and scientific terms used in pharmacy
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Good organizational skills
  • Good customer service skills
  • Good interpersonal skills and a good team player
  • Takes directions well, but can work independently when needed

Requirements for a Pharmacy Technician

Most pharmacy technician positions require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED, as well as:

  • Successful completion of a pharmacy technician program at a community or technical college or other instructional institution
  • A background check

Successful completion of your diploma program will prepare you for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

Job Outlook for a Career as a Pharmacy Technician

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for experienced, certified pharmacy technicians is exceptionally good. As the population ages, employment opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry in general are expected to grow at a faster rate than most of the career or labor markets.

Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

If a career in healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry is a good fit for you, the first step is to find a pharmacy technician diploma or degree program. On-campus programs are widely available in most states and online courses are also an option.

A pharmacy technician program provides the education and experience necessary to sit for the pharmacy technician certification exam and seek an entry level position. A diploma program can generally be completed in about a year*. If you are thinking about how to become a pharmacy technician, your first step is to decide if you want to study locally or online and then start researching schools.

*Completion times vary.

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About the Author

is a marketing professional with decades of hands-on experience in all types of advertising including Internet, email, TV, radio, print, direct mail, communications and branding. She enjoys working with hospitals, schools, medical suppliers and product manufacturers.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ultimate Medical Academy.

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