Working under the direct supervision of a Pharmacist, a Pharmacy Technician plays a vital role in the health care system. With thorough knowledge of federal and state legislation, a Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) works to ensure all physician ordered prescriptions are fulfilled accurately and assists with the day-to-day function of the pharmacy.
To begin a CPhT career in Virginia, a person must demonstrate good moral character with the completion of drug testing and criminal background checks. Formal qualifications and registration for licensure is required. A candidate must have completed high school or obtained a general education degree (GED). A mandatory certification training class, lasting about 3 months, must be successfully completed through an accredited school. Upon completion, the technician candidate can register online with Iso-Quality Testing for the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination. This examination is required in order to become a registered licensed Pharmacy Technician. A list of acceptable schools, testing registration and locations can be found on the Virginia Department of Health Professionals website.
Certification and Exam
The National Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination consists of 50 questions; 45 of the 50 are scored and 5 questions tested for future exams. Individuals are given one hour to complete the exam. Exams are immediately scored and an official report is received by the Iso-Quality Testing. To pass the examination, a minimum of 34 of 45 must be correctly answered, which equates to successful completion of 75%. Should a candidate fail the examination, they can retest again in 2 weeks. Multiple versions of the exam are used simultaneously with different combinations of questions in order to protect the exam’s integrity and to prevent duplicate tests used during retesting.
Upon completion of the Iso-Quality Testing, prospective technicians will be certified and able to apply for Virginia licensure. Applications for licenses can be found online through the Virginia Department of Health Professionals website. Licenses are valid for a calendar year (January 1 through December 31) and expire on December 31. Renewal process begins 45 days prior to expiration. A CPhT must report any felony convictions, drug and/or pharmacy violations, any state board of pharmacy actions against license or registration and supply all required continued education documents. Disqualification from registration can occur due to criminal conduct, violations or failure to completed further education. Disqualifications are made on a case by case basis.
Continued education is required for the CPhT. Every calendar year, a CPhT is required to complete 5 contract hours of education. This must be completed prior to the license renewal and there are no carry over hours to the following calendar year. For example, a technician completed 12 hours of continued education during the 2014 calendar year. They turned in 6 hours for renewal on December 31 but they cannot turn in the remaining 6 hours during the 2015 renewal. Continued education credit must be completed and used during the same calendar year registration renewal.
Salary and Job Outlook
A career as a Pharmacy Technician is quite rewarding. Working under the direct supervision of a Pharmacist, a technician will experience a wide variety of duties, such as handling routine pharmacy responsibilities such as receiving prescription orders, preparing and dispensing prescriptions, maintaining patient profiles, filing insurance claims, ordering and stocking inventory and providing excellent customer service. A CPhT will need to demonstrate the ability to read, interpret and understand a physician’s order on the prescription along with the ability to operate computerized dispensing equipment. Technician positions are not limited to working in a retail pharmacy. Careers expand into clinics, drug manufactures, drug wholesale companies, home healthcare, hospitals, mail order pharmacies, medical insurance companies, medical software companies, nursing homes and pharmacy technician instructors. Virginia Pharmacy Technicians can anticipate a national salary average of $32,160 annually. However, depending on your geographical location and job demand, some technicians can expect a national minimum annual salary of $26,260 or a maximum of $38,478 annually.
A Pharmacy Technician career is reasonably attainable for those who want to enter the health care field. The CPhT profession offers occupations to those who enjoy working with customer care and the challenges found in dispensing medical prescriptions. In as little as 3 months, candidates can completed the required education and take the national examination to begin gratifying employment.