5 Steps to Become a Pharmacy Technician
A pharmacy technician is a professional that works closely with a pharmacist to ensure the health and safety of patients. Job responsibilities include: locating, dispensing, packing, and labeling prescribed medications for patients. Additionally, pharmacy technicians may also help with administrative tasks, such as processing insurance claims and payments, tracking inventory, and filing paperwork.
Candidates typically have to go through 5 steps to become a pharmacy technician.
The first step in pursuing any career is to do extensive research. This is important, as you will learn what skills you will need to develop in order to be successful in a career. For pharmacy technicians, key skills would include; attention to detail, basic knowledge of chemistry, biology, or health education, familiarity with medical terminology, and organization.
Research also means that you will review the requirements to pursue the position. Reading this blog post can be a great first step in this career pathway, as it introduces the educational and professional requirements.
When researching potential pharmacy technician courses, try to find the right fit. Traditional associate’s degrees could work for a recent high-school graduate, but they may not fit the timeframe for someone interested in a career change. Review the variety of programs that prepare you for certification.
Complete a Program
Most pharmacies and healthcare organizations now require formalized training programs for pharmacy technicians, so that specific knowledge and skills are verified. This ensures a high quality of customer care and patient safety. When searching through certification preparatory courses, look for a curriculum that focuses on pharmacology, anatomy, terminology, calculations, and healthcare systems.
Most pharmacy technician programs include an externship, meaning that you will receive on-site training in an actual pharmacy. Blackstone Career Institute currently offers pharmacy technician externships with both CVS and Walgreens, an excellent start to gaining real-world knowledge.
Take the PTCB Test
The PTCB certification, in some states, is a mandatory requirement. In preparation for the examination, it is important to review the material from your educational program, and ensure that the curriculum matches the test content. The PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) Program offers additional guidebooks that explain eligibility requirements, sample content outlines, and practice examinations.
Blackstone’s Pharmacy Technician graduates qualify to sit for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) exam and the exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT).
Apply for Positions
A newly-certified pharmacy technician can seek out entry-level roles within the field immediately. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technician positions have a promising job outlook. The field is projected to grow steadily through the next decade, with employment opportunities expected to blossom.
Similar to selecting programs, the right environment is equally important. Pharmacy technicians can work under several medical practices, ranging in size from hospitals to care homes. Retail pharmacies also offer job security, but it entirely depends on the candidate’s interests. Consider factors such as commute, lifestyle, and skill set before actively applying to different positions.
While certification is a crucial step in your career journey, it is by no means the end of your education. As a healthcare professional, you are responsible with keeping up to date with new medications and technologies, and also have to regularly renew your PTCB Certification.
The pharmaceutical industry changes regularly, with new drugs and brands constantly entering the market, so it is important to stay on top of pharmacy technician trends. Pharmacy technicians must renew their PTCB certification every two years to ensure that they are on top of any industry changes. Failure to renew your certification results in the loss of the credential, an issue that can affect your job security and prospects.
The Blackstone Difference
Educationally, pharmacy technicians can pursue two distinct paths: a certificate/diploma program or an Associate’s Degree program.
Pharmacy technician Associate’s Degree programs provide depth in pharmaceutical studies, however, there are additional requirements, such as general education classes. Typically, Associate’s Degree programs take two years to complete and are more expensive, compared to certificate or diploma programs.
The fastest route to become a pharmacy technician is through a certificate or diploma program, which typically takes one year to complete. Some states will require a passing grade on a certification exam after the program is completed. These programs are available online and offer the same breadth of knowledge, without extracurricular course requirements.
Blackstone Career Institute’s online Pharmacy Technician training program offers the skills and hands-on training needed to assist pharmacists in processing and filling prescriptions. The online Pharmacy Technician training program includes a working knowledge of medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmacy calculations, pharmacology, body systems and disorders, ethics, and professionalism.