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How to Become a Pharmacy Technician in Massachusetts

Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists in settings such as retail pharmacy establishments, grocery stories with pharmacy departments, independent community pharmacies, nursing homes, and hospitals. Pharmacy technicians perform duties such as counting medications for customers, packaging and labeling of medications, performing inventory duties, assisting customers with purchasing of medications, making and answering phone calls and processing insurance claims. To become a pharmacy technician in Massachusetts, there are several routes you can take.

Educational Requirements
To become a pharmacy technician, you must be 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or GED. You should be able to write, speak and understand English. You must not have any criminal convictions involving controlled substances. To be hired as a pharmacy technician, you must either hold a state certification or national license.

Some establishments provide on-the-job training, where pharmacy technician trainees work alongside of pharmacists and other technicians for several hundred hours (about 500 hours) until they are comfortable with their role. They must then pass an exam to become state certified to continue working. Although Massachusetts does not require pharmacy technicians to be nationally licensed, all technicians must be at least state certified.

If you prefer to be nationally licensed, enroll in an approved pharmacy technician program. Pharmacy technician programs are offered at schools such as vocational schools, technical schools and community colleges. These programs are typically less than a year long. Courses taken by students include nutrition, medical terminology, pharmacology, pharmacy math, anatomy and physiology, fundamentals of chemistry, pharmacy law and ethics and computer skills. Students are typically required to complete an internship or externship at the end of their program to apply skills learned while in the classroom. By completing a Massachusetts pharmacy technician program, you can sit for the PTCB exam or ICPT exam and become nationally licensed.

Pharmacy Technician Salary
The next step after becoming certified or licensed is getting a job. The average salary of a pharmacy technician varies depending on the setting you work in, from hospitals to retail pharmacies. Salaries also vary depending on the location of employment. For example, living in a larger city has a higher cost of living and therefore typically has a higher pay scale. For example, the average salary for a pharmacy technician working in Boston is $35,161 year, according to Salary.com. For technicians working in a smaller city, like Pittsfield, the average salary is $33,648.

To maintain national licensure, pharmacy technicians in Massachusetts must partake in 20 hours of continuing education every two years. This is especially important to stay updated on new drug therapies and health care technologies. A renewal fee is also required every two years to maintain licensure.