How to Become a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians assist licensed pharmacists dispense prescription medications to consumers or healthcare providers. In some states, technicians may be expected to mix formulations, call physicians for refill authorizations or operate automated dispensing equipment. They work under the direct supervision of pharmacists who review each prescription before the customer receives the medication. Check here to find out How to Become a Pharmacy Technician in your state.
Required Education and Training
Potential technicians must have a high school diploma or an equivalent. The American Society of Health System Pharmacists regulates pharmacy technician programs and requires that students attend at least 600 hours of instruction prior to board certification application. Depending on different states, pharmacy technicians may learn the occupation through on-the-job training programs. Most however, attend specialized programs through a community college or a technical school. The majority of states regulate the occupation and may additionally require certification or licensing once a technician completes formal education.
Technical programs last a minimum of four months in length and provide only the basic information needed to pass certification exams. College-based courses may last up to 18 months, but provide students with a more extensive academic background. These programs additionally offer students the opportunity of gaining practical work experience in a variety of clinical settings. As an extern, students perform the typical duties of a pharmacy technician under the guidance of licensed pharmacists. The coursework required by a college-based technology program includes completion of:
* Anatomy and physiology
* Medical terminology
* Pharmaceutical math
* Pharmacy ethics and law
Students also have the option of attending college programs that offer an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. These programs typically extend for two to four years and provide a well-rounded education by requiring that students attend a predetermined schedule of classes designed to enhance the technician’s knowledge of pharmacology while improving communication and critical thinking skills.
Upon completion of the program, students demonstrate the capability and knowledge to:
* Enter pertinent patient, physician and prescription information into a facility’s database system.
* Obtain and use insurance information for payment
* Utilize other forms of payment
* Accurately fill or compound prescriptions
* Properly prepare intravenous and other sterile solutions as prescribed
* Maintain and order inventory
Necessary Personal Skills
Besides having professional training as a pharmacy technician, each individual must possess specific personal qualities, which include:
* Customer-service and interpersonal communication skills-As technicians spend a great deal of time communicating with customers, co-workers and supervisors, they must have the ability to interact and communicate appropriately.
* Detail orientated-Paying attention to the details of all job requirements ensures the safety of patients and reduces the number of errors.
* Listening skills-An important component of communication, technicians must exercise listening skills to effectively understand healthcare provider instruction or to understand the needs of each client.
* Organizational skills-The variety of tasks that pharmacy technicians must regularly complete require the ability to organize time while performing assignments accurately and serving the needs of clients.
How to Become a Pharmacy Technician with Certification and Licensing
Taking and passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board requires that the applicant have a high school diploma and pass the written examination. Prior to taking the examination administered by the National Health career Association requires that applicants be 18 years of age, have a high school diploma and complete an accredited training program. Technicians must also have at least one year of work experience before taking the test. After achieving certification, technicians must reapply for certification every two years and complete 20 hours of continuing education courses.
According to the U.S. Board of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technician positions are expected to continue growing through 2022. The prediction is based on the fact that as the population ages, older Americans will naturally require more prescription medications secondary to the development of chronic disease processes. Advancements in pharmaceutical research also suggests that companies will produce more disease fighting formulations that require prescriptions. The federal health insurance reform program also ensures that more citizens have adequate healthcare coverage. When having coverage, U.S. residents are more likely to seek medical attention and acquire medication prescriptions.
Technicians typically gain employment in pharmacies located in general merchandise stores, chain or privately owned pharmacies. Employment options also exist in local, state and private hospitals or in ambulatory healthcare facilities.
Pharmacy Technician Salary
The U.S. Board of Labor Statistics reported that as of 2012, the average wage for a pharmacy technician was $29,320. The amount of wage offered depends on a number of factors that includes the geographical location of individual facilities. Technicians generally find that larger cities offer better options for acquiring higher wages. The level of education, experience and type of facility also help determine the wage a pharmacy technician might earn.