Becoming a Pharmacy Technician is a great career choice. The ratio of benefits and pay to educational requirements is better than the average career. To gauge future success as a pharmacy technician, a few traits are common: a tendency to like math, interpersonal communication skills, customer service skills, familiarity with Windows-based computer applications, multitasking, and organization.
In high school, taking algebra is essential. Basic algebra skills are used daily in the technician’s life. A communications course would be very beneficial to those not immediately people-friendly. Working with the public is a requirement for the retail technician, whereas working with a large number of associates is common in hospital settings.
Some establishments (in states that don’t require the certification) still hire pharmacy technicians without formal training. Finding these places that offer on-the-job training are becoming further and fewer between. The best locations would be small business owner pharmacies or hospitals in small- to medium-sized cities. Larger cities, larger hospitals, and some chain retail establishments require some previous experience or formal training.
Many technical colleges and universities offer a pharmacy technician program. Associate’s degrees and certificates or technical diplomas are the most commonly available. Most certificates or programs include classes like Medical Terminology, Pharmacy Law, Fundamentals of Prescription Reading, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Calculations, and Pharmacy Parenteral Admixtures.
After completing the program, the next logical step is to consider certification. Sixteen states currently require certification to work as a pharmacy technician. Two certifying bodies (Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and National Healthcareer Association (NHA)) offer exams, that upon successfully passing, allow the technician to use the title CPhT. Four of the sixteen states requiring certification will only accept PTCB’s endorsement, and to take the NHA exam, one year of experience or a completed pharmacy technician program is required. Other states have their own requirements for certification and licensure. Employment options for certified pharmacy technicians are much greater than for non-certified.
As the baby boomer generation ages, the work of pharmacy technicians continues to grow. The employment outlook is much greater than the average career. With education and certification, employment is fairly easy to acquire. The industry prefers business-casual attire, strong interpersonal skills, descent algebra skills, and being fluent with Windows-based programs are extremely helpful. Most every pharmacy now uses a computerized system for processing orders and filling prescriptions. After a few years of experience, becoming the lead technician or being the head of projects is the next step in the career path. Lead technicians receive more responsibilities, more pay, and are usually considered a management position, in charge of any number of technicians.
The career path of a pharmacy technician is rewarding with strong employment outlook, job security, and a benefits package. The minimal training and schooling time involved before joining the workforce makes this career choice an excellent one.