How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Becoming a pharmacy technician is relatively easy compared to some other medical professions. You only need the desire and basic high school diploma to gain entry to this field. There are also training options that are reachable and all lead to prepare you for certification. Here is how to go about becoming a pharmacy technician and beginning a career in the medical profession.

The General Steps

The general steps in the path to becoming a pharmacy technician are:

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  • Complete high school
  • Find out local and state requirements
  • Pass a drug test/criminal records check
  • Attend a pharmacy technician school or approved training program
  • Get certified
  • Obtain any required licensing

Probably no one will hire you without at least a high school diploma or equivalency. The work of a pharmacy technician requires the use of computers and making mathematical computations. Without these basic skills that you learn in high school, you will have difficulty in a training program as well as working in a pharmacy.

States have varying requirements when it comes to working as a pharmacy technician. Some states require training in a formal education program while some accept on-the-job training. Not all states require certification. Then there are some that require the pharmacy technician take continuing education classes to stay updated on skills, new medicines, and new procedures related to the field.

Pharmacy technicians are expected to uphold the highest standards in moral and ethical conduct and employers want to be assured of this. Keep in mind that a technician will be handling and disseminating drugs that can be abused if in the wrong hands. Furthermore, no employer wants to have a pharmacy technician who is also an addict but with access to all sorts of drugs. Then, pharmacists are responsible for inventory control of medications. These are some of the reasons why a candidate for this technical field will be required to take a drug screen plus pass a criminal record check.

Attending a pharmacy technician program is not always a hard requirement. It is possible to be part of an approved on-the-job training program for a prescribed time period and then take the certification exam. However, you may be able to get higher paying jobs such as in a hospital if you have formal schooling.

Not all states require a pharmacy technician to be certified but you limit your opportunities if you don’t seek this credential. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) is the main certifying organization in the United States and there are others.

States such as Texas require licensing or what they refer to as state registration after achieving certification. This state’s license must also be renewed every two years.

Characteristics

There are certain personal characteristics the help a pharmacy technician to be successful in the field. If you are considering this career, take a self-inventory to see if you possess these:

  • Good ability with mathematics, spelling, and reading
  • Effective communication skills
  • A sense of responsibility
  • Dedication to ethics
  • Ability to focus even when many tasks must be performed
  • Detail-oriented
  • Problem solver
  • Self-motivation to keep learning

A pharmacy technician has to be able to comply by the regulations no matter what. This means that this person has to be able to turn customers away who try to get medicine illegally such as making up a story of losing all medication in the sink way before the refill date.

Paying attention to detail is critical in this field. It only takes one mistake on filling a prescription and the recipient could be at risk of serious reactions due to the error. This ability also extends to multi-tasking when prescriptions must be filled while at the same time having to deal with multiple customers.

A good pharmacy technician needs to have a willingness to keep learning. This is because new drugs appear on the market each year and those who handle them need to be familiar with their attributes as well.