Individuals interested in pursuing careers in the fast growing healthcare industry should consider these five tips for becoming a pharmacy technician. Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists with tasks like receiving and filling prescriptions, verifying prescriptions, and labeling prescription bottles. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of employment for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase 31 percent between 2008 to 2018, which is must faster than average. Training, certification, and experience can assist individuals in obtaining jobs as pharmacy technicians.
Although there are no established formal requirements to become a pharmacy technician, almost every state requires that individuals holding these positions have a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, a few states require pharmacy technicians to obtain certification, which also requires a high school diploma or the equivalent. Further, having a high school diploma is attractive to employers, which means individuals who have at least a high school diploma will have better luck finding jobs, as well as better future prospects if the career isn’t a good fit.
Enrolling in a formal vocational training program after you complete high school can increase your chances of obtaining a job as a pharmacy technician. You can find these of programs at hospitals, community colleges, and vocational schools. A typical program involves classes in pharmaceutical ethics, terminology, techniques, and calculations. You’ll also have to become familiar with the drugs prescribed by doctors, as well as their usage and standard dosages. After completing one of these programs, you’ll receive a diploma, certificate, or even an associate’s degree, depending on the program and institution you attend.
Certification is voluntary in most states, but it can demonstrate your commitment to employers. Some employers require pharmacy technicians to become certified, regardless of state laws, and many will reimburse examination fees. To become certified, you must take and pass a nationally accredited professional examination administered by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT), or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. In order to qualify for the exam, you cannot have any felony convictions, or drug-related misdemeanors. Certification lasts for two years. To become recertified, you must take at least 20 hours of continuing education courses from qualified institutions, such as vocational schools and colleges.
Employers typically look for evidence of strong customer service skills when hiring pharmacy technicians, because they have to interact with the public and healthcare professionals, on a day-to-day basis. You can develop customer service skills through any position that requires you to interact with the public, such as jobs in the retail, or service industries. Many of these jobs can be held while attending high school or college, prior to seeking employment as a pharmacy technician.
After you obtain a position as a pharmacy technician, you’ll typically receive three to 12 months of on the job training, which involves learning the practical aspects of performing the job, as well as practices specific to a particular pharmacy or pharmacist. Even if you’ve received formal educational training, you’ll still have to complete on the job training before you’ll be able to officially work as a pharmacy technician.