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How to Become a Pharmacy Technician in New Jersey

Becoming a pharmacy technician in New Jersey is relatively easy compared to becoming a pharmacy technician in most other states. New Jersey does not require any kind of license or certification. There is no exam to pass to become a pharmacy technician in New Jersey. There are a few basic requirements. People who have been working as a pharmacy technician since before September 2007 are exempt from these rules.

The first requirement is that the applicant must be at least 18 years old. Second, they must have a high school diploma or a GED. The applicant needs to display English proficiency as well. Next, the applicant needs to fill out a form on the Web site of the New Jersey Pharmacy Board. The form is only accepted electronically, and carries a $35 application fee to cover costs. After submitting the form, the applicant needs to undergo a criminal background check. This requires sending in fingerprints and some personal information.

Education & Certification
Further preparation is optional, but may increase the applicant’s likelihood of getting hired. For example, the applicant may acquire a technical degree in pharmacy, or may acquire a certification. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board offers a two hour, multiple choice exam and awards a certification to all those who pass. The exam has a $129 application fee, although this can be refunded in the case of withdrawals or cancellations with 24 hours’ notice. Again, a degree more advanced than a high school diploma or GED is not a requirement to become a pharmacy technician in New Jersey- it is only a supplemental certification to help the applicant demonstrate their knowledge and preparedness to potential employers.

In New Jersey, pharmacy technicians make $31,000 a year on average. According to Indeed.com, pharmacy technicians in New Jersey make about 7 percent more than the nationwide average for pharmacy technicians. Actual salaries range from $18,000 to $39,000 a year depending on the location, experience required, the job’s responsibilities, and other variables. Pharmacy technicians living in expensive areas and with more experience can expect to earn higher salaries than others.

The typical duties of a pharmacy technician do not vary from state to state. A pharmacy technician assists a pharmacist in filling and measuring prescriptions for customers. Most pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies, although some work in hospitals or stores. Pharmacy technicians need to be able to mix different medications in a prescription and count and measure accurately. Approving prescriptions and refills usually requires the presence of the pharmacist, especially for controlled substances like painkillers. Pharmacy technicians may also be expected to carry out logistical support for their location. This includes keeping track of inventory and notifying the pharmacist when the location is running low on a given medicine, as well as processing customer payments and insurance claims. Pharmacy technicians need to be familiar enough with computers to track inventory and payments in a computer system.

Many of the tasks a pharmacy technician carries out are taught through on the job training. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that pharmacy technicians have a moderate level of on the job training in the specific skills they need. Formal training and education may provide some background, such as in the necessary math skills, but some skills, like customer service, will only come through experience. There are some tasks, like approving prescriptions and refills, that only a full pharmacist is legally permitted to perform. This is because many medicines are dangerous when used improperly, so a pharmacist needs to ensure that each prescription is legitimate and doesn’t carry undue risk of drug interactions or side effects.

A pharmacy technician in New Jersey has the advantage of no necessary training, which is a double-edged sword. The positive side is that a new technician can jump right into a job without spending time and money on education and certification beyond the high school diploma or GED. The negative side is that the potential lack of training means a pharmacy technician in New Jersey has to do more on the job training to catch up.