Becoming a pharmacy technician is a popular option for those looking to enter a rewarding field without spending a ton of time and money on schooling.
Many medical professionals go to school anywhere between four and eight years to become experts in their field. However, pharmacy technician certification can be earned in a mere matter of months, typically between three months and a year.
What’s the First Step?
For anyone looking to break into this career, schooling is the first and most important step. While on-the-job training was traditionally considered adequate for technicians, increasing scrutiny and calls for regulations are prompting more employers to require education and certification.
Today, schools offer programs on traditional campuses and online. It’s actually one of the only medical training programs that has the option of studying completely online. The flexibility of programs is another aspect that motivates people to pursue their pharmacy technician certification.
Educational programs typically last between a few months to a year and results in a certificate or diploma. Vocational schools, online colleges and community colleges are the most common providers of educational programs.
Other Pharmacy Technician Certification
Most employers today want to see not only a diploma or certificate from a school, but certification obtained through passage of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The exam is broken up into three major sections.
- Assisting the pharmacist in taking care of patients
- Medication and inventory control systems
- Participating in the administration and management of pharmacy practice
Candidates have 110 minutes to complete 90 multiple-choice questions. Ten of those 90 questions do not count toward the final score and are used primarily as pilot questions for possible inclusion in future tests. So there’s really 80 questions that count toward the exam score. However, candidates won’t have any idea which questions will not count toward the score – they are sprinkled in randomly.
The PTCB offers a series of practice exams that will help prepare candidates for the certification exam. The practice exams will help candidates get a feel for the structure and format of the test and can even predict how likely someone is to pass the exam.
Finding a Job
Pharmacy technicians are employed by pharmacies, hospitals, drug stores and other businesses. Technicians work both full and part time and spend most of a shift on their feet. Most employers today will only hire technicians who have received both schooling and certification through the PTCB.
With the proper certifications in hand, job opportunities will be plenty. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for technicians is expected to grow 32 percent through 2020.
With such excellent opportunities, it’s easy to get on the fast-track toward a rewarding career. The median income for techs is around $28,000. However, with new regulations and a move toward certification – salaries could be on the rise in the foreseeable future, especially if certification with the PTCB becomes required by federal law, which some see as a possibility in the future.
There’s never been a better time to enter a profession with such ample job opportunities and earning potential. with the proper schooling and certification, the options are looking better than ever.