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How I Became A Pharmacy Technician
Becoming a Pharmacy Technician
I had a job at Shopko stocking shelves before I became a pharmacy technician. I worked in the area across from the pharmacy. It was the health and beauty department. I had to return items that were in the pharmacy over the counter area. I remember being so confused at the many similar products. There were many cough medicines, various types of Tylenol and generics too. I sometimes had to ask for help from a pharmacy technician to know where a product belonged. I was only 16 and in a way I liked the challenge of noticing the difference between one medication or another. Somehow or other I heard of an opening for a pharmacy technician. I inquired and soon I had the job.
Becoming a Certified Pharmacy Technician
I am old enough that I had been a pharmacy technician for more than eight years before there was a requirement for pharmacy technicians to be certified. By then I was working at Albertson’s grocery store in the pharmacy. Albertson’s provided the education and testing necessary for me to be certified. I went to 2 or 3 days of training and review. After that there was an examination. Everything I had learned from working at the pharmacy helped me immensely. The training was nothing new for me and my score on the test was in the 90th percentile.
National Pharmacy Technician Certification
After several more years of working as a certified pharmacy technician there was a new requirement for national certification. I went to several classes to become certified. I was then a mother of 2 children and working only part time as a pharmacy technician. I really wanted to be certified but the timing wasn’t working out for me very well. I never did take the test. I was really unwise in not doing so, since Albertson’s would have paid the necessary costs of the examination. I am now a full time mom and haven’t worked at the pharmacy for about five years. If I wanted my old job back I would need to take practice tests online and sign up for a date to take the examination. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or PTCB has a website (the link is located below) with all the necessary information about becoming a certified pharmacy technician.
Link for Pharmacy Technician Certification Official Site
- PTCB | Home
After clicking on this link to the PTCB home page, look for the certification tab on top. This will tell you all you need to know to become a certified pharmacy technician.
Pharmacy Technician Wages
I didn’t mention this earlier, but the reason I wanted to change jobs to the pharmacy was also because of the money. I was headed to college and wanted to have a better pay to get me through. I jumped up several dollars as I took on the job at the pharmacy. I continued to get raises. With each pharmacy technician certification there was also a jump in pay. In fact, I was making better money at the pharmacy than entering my selected career. The only problem is that it is an hourly job not salaried. And depending on the place you work there is a cap on how much you can make in that position. At the time I quit Albertson’s I was making $15.25 an hour. This was in 2005 I think. So, I would imagine it would be more now. I also checked out a few different retail places and discovered years ago that Costco Pharmacy paid the most out of the places I knew of. The pay was about $18/hour. But, that was after many years working at Costco. They have a pay scale according the amount of hours you have worked. It’s not a starting pay. I worked for Wal-Mart for a time also. But, Albertson’s was willing to pay more, so I got a job there. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a website that shows actual amounts reported for income tax for particular careers. The report for 2014 shows the mean hourly wage to be $14.33. This means that there are some that make less and some that make more, but this is the average wage.
Pharmacy Technician Pros and Cons
When I began in the pharmacy there were not a lot of rules about what we could say or not. I really enjoyed that a lot because you learn a lot in the pharmacy and I enjoyed passing on the information. Yes, you should take this with food because it’s usually hard on the stomach. Or, no you shouldn’t take this with Tylenol because it already has Tylenol in it. I also enjoyed talking with people about their ailments and sometimes offering advice that I knew the pharmacist had given before. But, there are laws now that prevent a pharmacy technician from opening their mouths about nearly anything. It’s always a deferment to an already very busy pharmacist. The work can become very redundant. Even pharmacists often complain about how mundane it becomes. If it weren’t for the money, they would change careers. The positives are that it is a challenge to be very detail oriented. You must pay very close attention to detail. Some people really like this. I did. There are lots of names of drugs that you have to know. You need to know the name, the generic and what they are used for to be a really good pharmacy technician. Most of this just comes with time. You can pass the exams and all that pretty easily. You must study, yes, but you can do well if you study well. I liked counting out the medication, affixing labels and organizing prescriptions. I liked the challenge of learning a doctor’s handwriting. I liked deciphering the drug, directions, quantity and refills. I liked the very nature of being precise in my work. I think the pharmacists really liked my work too. It was fulfilling in many ways. The pay is also much better than many jobs that don’t require a degree. Becoming a pharmacy technician was a very fulfilling part of my life. I still get calls from my family asking me about interactions and what certain drugs are for. I know the answers to many of the questions they ask. If I don’t I am very honest about that too. A pharmacist is the one qualified to answer those questions. Nevertheless, a pharmacy technician learns a lot working at the pharmacy. It can be a great benefit to yourself and your family.
On the Job Training Still Available
I recently ran into a Pharmacist I used to work for and we had a fun chat. He asked me when I was coming back and I told him how I didn't renew my license and would have to start over. He said that he had a training program there at Ridley's that I could come and do to get my license. He said that I'd have to work for free for a certain number of hours (I'm not remembering the exact amount) but then I could take the test and be a technician again. I later looked online at CVS pharmacy and it mentioned a training program as well. So, if you don't have the money to go to school I do believe that if you do self study and find a pharmacy with a program you could become licensed as a Pharmacy Technician and also have an immediate job!