You can train to work in a pharmacy alongside a pharmacist by attending a pharmacy technician training course.
Pharmacy techs work under the direction and supervision of a pharmacist and perform some of the duties a pharmacist may perform. A pharmacy tech is a health care professional, educated in pharmacology, who assists licensed pharmacists with accepting prescription authorizations, mixing medications, and labeling and dispensing pharmaceuticals.
Pharmacy technicians work in hospital and retail pharmacies, medical clinics, doctors offices, retail chain stores, nursing homes and online pharmacies. Most pharmacies have three different classifications of pharmacy technicians.
The non-certified tech has least responsibility/experience and is the lowest paid in most cases. The certified tech has more responsibility/higher pay. Finally, a senior pharmacy technician is certified, has more skills, more working experience, and the highest pay of these three classifications.
The common daily job functions with this position typically include:
- receiving written prescriptions
- entering prescription information into a computer
- answering the phone and receiving emails
- greeting patients
- collecting personal health information
- entering medical history and information into a computer
- selecting and counting medications
- running a cash register
- preparing or mixing medications, including emulsions, liquids, ointments and powders
- maintaining patient profiles in a pharmacy database
- providing general customer service
- preparing products for patients
- validating insurance
- keeping track of and ordering pharmacy supplies
- delivering medication
Requirements for becoming a pharmacy technician vary from state to state. The one constant requirement is that you have at least a high school diploma. Some states allow you to receive on-the-job training while you learn the position. Other states (such as California) require that you become registered as a pharmacy technician before you start.
But even in your state doesn't require formal training, you should enroll in a training program and get certification as your job advancement opportunities will be much better than if you have no formal classes. Certification is not required in all states but it will make you more attractive as a potential employee. Training programs typically take from six months to two years to complete.
Formal certification are granted by two different groups -- The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. Both of these groups offer a standardized national certification exam. Passing the exam awards you either The Pharmacy Technician Certification (PTCE) or the Certified Pharmacy Technician (ExCPT) certification. Some hospital pharmacies won't hire a pharmacy tech who hasn't passed one of these two exams.
While a few employers in some states will provide on-the-job training, the vast majority prefer their techs to have formal training and a certificate. A community college, vocational school or an online school may have programs for pharmacy technicians that take between six months to two years to complete. Many of these programs will feature internships at local pharmacies or hospitals where students can obtain actual work experience working under a licensed pharmacist.
The only requirement to get started in one of these programs is to have a high school diploma or GED. These programs can provide you the education you need quickly. Typical class subjects include introductory chemistry, pharmacology, drug preparation, some medical law, drug reactions, medication compounding, medical record keeping and standard medical technology.
After completing your course and passing the pharmacy technician test, you will be a registered pharmacy technician ready to work.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts pharmacy technicians in the top 30 fastest-growing occupations in the years ahead. This career field is projected to grow 25% during the next few years.
Your chances of getting a job in this healthcare field are strong.