The Certification Network

Pharmacy Technician Certification

 


The Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program was developed in response to a rising need for trained technicians to work in either the hospital or retail pharmacy setting. In recent years, the Pharmacy Technician profession has become indispensable to the health care field. A nationwide shortage of pharmacists and a growing consumer demand for prescription medications have allowed pharmacy technicians the opportunity to play a continually more important role in today's pharmacy industry. 

With this growing opportunity, however, has also come increased responsibility, and this increased responsibility has made Pharmacy Technician Certification an important issue for many industry employers and even to some state legislatures. Some states now require all individuals who work as pharmacy technicians to become nationally certified.

A pharmacy technician is an individual who, under the supervision of a pharmacist, assists in the performance of activities of the pharmacy department not requiring the professional judgment of a pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians assist and support licensed pharmacists in providing health care to patients. Pharmacy Technicians have been called pharmacy helpers, pharmacy clinicians, pharmacy support personnel and various other titles, depending on their location. 

In all parts of the country, pharmacy technicians must have a broad knowledge of pharmacy practice and must be skilled in the techniques required to order, stock, package, and prepare medications, but they do not need the advanced college education required of a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians may perform many of the same duties as a pharmacist; however, all of their work must be checked by a pharmacist before medication can be dispensed to a patient.

In order to sit for the national pharmacy technician certification exam, candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent; therefore, it is recommended that students have this before enrolling for this program. Students should be proficient in keyboarding (approximately 35 words per minute), have a basic understanding of a word processing computer program (Microsoft Word recommended), and have a command of English grammar and punctuation. No healthcare or medical office work experience is required.

The target audience for the Pharmacy Technician program is individuals interested in learning job skills for pharmacy technician employment opportunities or individuals interested in changing job skills to become pharmacy technicians.

How can I find my state's requirements for certification?

The Internet is a great resource. All states currently have a site with board of pharmacy information. You can access this information directly from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) website at www.ptcb.org. If you cannot access this information via the Internet, you can always call the state board and ask for the current technician regulations.

What if my State requires more than what is offered in this program?

Most states still offer employment prior to pharmacy technician certification. This often comes with the stipulation that certification is acquired with a period of time (usually a year). During this period you will be considered unlicensed personnel, clerks, or aides.

On-the-job training/internships are a great way to obtain the increasing number of hours required. If your goal is to work in a hospital pharmacy, finding that job while you are still a student will help you reach your employment requirements (many states require a minimum number of hours worked before registration/certification with the board can occur), along with the educational clinical requirements.

How can Pharmacy Technician Schools provide the benefits you need?

Pharmacy technician career training often will include:

  • Measuring, filling, and labeling Pharmaceutical prescriptions
  • Updating patient files and writing records of prescriptions
  • Receiving prescriptions from doctors and patients and verifying information
  • 24 hour medicine supplies for patients in hospitals (labeling each dose separately)
  • Filing and pricing prescriptions for a pharmacist to review before the patients receive them
  • Study and preparation for a pharmacy technician certification.

Many pharmacy technician schools offer the ability to continue with a current job while preparing for a new career. Benefits can include flexible schedules and student loans, Pharmacy technician training is ideal for a working parent, home maker, or someone considering a return to school to earn hours towards an associate’s degree.

Pharmacy Technician Certification details

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board schedules voluntary exams several times a year. To qualify for the Exam, students must not have a record of criminal activity and have obtained a high school diploma or GED. Students graduating the Pharmacy Technician Certification attains the ‘Certified Pharmacy Technician’ title or CPhT.

Technicians have to re-certify every two years, but before they are eligible, pharmacy technicians need 20 contact hours of pharmacy topics. Ways to earn hours include on the job training, college time, and attending lectures. At least one of those hours should be in pharmacy law. Technicians can earn up to ten of those twenty hours by working under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist.

The advantages and benefits for Pharmacy Technicians

Certified Pharmacy Technicians work in a clean pleasant atmosphere. Pharmacies and hospitals provide a well lit, organized working environment. Certified Pharmacy Technicians will be required to occasionally lift boxes containing medicine up high to reach storage shelves.

Certified Pharmacy Technicians enjoy both full time or part time employment opportunities. Working hours can very due to some pharmacies adopting later hours of operation. Beginning Pharmacy Technicians will be expected to work late or come in early until they earn seniority and gain the trust and respect of their employer and co-workers.

What kind of employment opportunities can be expected?

The US Department of Labor reported 210,000 pharmacy technician jobs available in 2002. Estimated number of jobs available now is 274,500. Most are retail pharmacies. Employment opportunities are expected to increase, as the medical industry invents and markets drugs for specific problems. Income average for retail pharmacy technicians is $10.54 per hour. Large numbers of jobs are now filled by people without formal training. As employers increase job training requirements wages can be expected to rise for Certified Pharmacy Technicians.

Hospitals and health care facilities hired twenty two percent of Certified Pharmacy Technicians. Wages average $12.32. Higher salaries are due to increased requirements for candidates who have obtained Certified Pharmacy Technician certificates.

Online pharmacies can be expected to account for an increasing number of jobs as these outlets grow more popular due to ever increasing pressure to reduce the price of prescription drugs. 

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