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Free Pharmacy Technician Training

Updated on March 5, 2012

What is a Pharmacy Technician?

A great career path is that of a pharmacy technician, also known as a pharmaceutical technician.

A pharmacy technician works with and under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist or other licensed professional.

The job requires working knowledge of pharmacy-related tasks, such as dispensing prescription drugs and in some cases, medical equipment, to patients.

There are administrative tasks performed such as reviewing and confirming script requests with doctors' offices and contacting insurance companies to resolve questions or issues.

Providing excellent customer service is a big part of the pharmacy technician job.

This is an in-demand job with great career potential and financial benefits.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Requirements vary by state to become a pharmacy technician, but in all cases, formal training is required.

A high school diploma or GED is required, but not necessarily a college degree. Training is available through local community or technical colleges that offer accredited programs. Other available training programs may be offered by local hospitals, specialized schools, on-line or through correspondence schools, but be careful to check that these types of training programs will be recognized by your particular state or region.

Clinical, field or hands-on training may also be required to complete the training program.

In the United States, a pharmacy technician may become certified by completing all required training and passing a standardized certification exam.

Pharmacy Technician Qualifications

To be qualified to apply for a pharmacy technician position, be sure to meet all of the basic requirements such as possessing a valid high school diploma or equivalency, be able to pass a background check and of course, pass a drug test.

Make sure the training program you enroll in is accredited and recognized by your state or province. Since requirements vary by area, a bit of research on your part is in order to determine what the specifics requirements are.

Customer service is a very big part of this type of job, so if you enjoy dealing with people and being a problem-solver, you will do well in this career.

Attention to detail is an absolute must as a basic job function is to dispense prescription medications to patients. Work must be performed only under the direction and supervision of a licensed pharmacist.

When studying to become a pharmacy tech, your studies will include such topics as medical terminology, human physiology/diseases/biology, infection control, relevant healthcare laws and privacy practices, pharmacy and healthcare ethics, pharmacy practices, alternative medicine, names/actions/uses/doses of medications and customer service. There will be both classroom and lab work required.

Formal training can take 1-2 years, but most students can land jobs prior to obtaining certification. There are some state laws and regulations, and no federal laws, governing certification or licensing for pharmacy technicians. Most employers, however, require formal training beyond on-the-job training.

Once certification is obtained, re-certification must be completed once every two years, requiring 20 hours of additional training, with at least one hour dedicated to pharmacy law.

Certification may be granted by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.

On-the-job training, such as an internship at a hospital pharmacy, can prove to be invaluable because you get actual hands-on experience with the medications, dosages and managing inventories.

Pharmacy Technician Training Program - Free Pharmacy Technician Training

You could possibly receive training to become a pharmacy technician at no cost to you. Even if you do not receive your training for free, you will find that there are ways to help pay for any required pharmacy technician training. A pharmacy technician performs various duties in a pharmacy and while assisting the pharmacists.

Community colleges often offer pharmacy technician training programs. Some of these programs will make you eligible to receive financial aid. The amount of assistance you receive will depend on your income and financial status. There are times when you will actually receive help to pay all of your training. Even if you do not receive enough to pay for all of your tuition, most people do qualify for some level of financial aid.

If you are attending a pharmacy technician program at a school, talk to the financial aid officer to find out if you could apply for scholarships. The school is likely to have some opportunities for which you could apply. Of course, you can also search for scholarships on your own to see if there are any that could be used for a pharmacy technician training program.

Utilize your military benefits if you served in the military at one time and have educational benefits that will pay for this type of program. You will need to find a school that will accept these benefits. There is the possibility that your benefit is large enough to pay for all your training.

Retail pharmacies and even some clinical pharmacies will sometimes provide training to individuals directly. Some states will allow you to gain on the job training before you need to take any tests to become licensed or certified. You can contact pharmacies in your area to determine if any offer such programs. You can then apply for a program to see if you qualify. Keep in mind that you will need to work for that pharmacy for a specified amount of time after they provide all training. You should not need to pay for any of this training.

Talk to your employer if you are already working for a company that has a pharmacy. Let them know that you would like to make a change and work for them as a pharmacy technician. Some of the employers might be willing to pay for the training you need. This is certainly a possibility if you are an employee with a good work record. Some companies even have their own tuition assistance programs that can help you.

Career training assistance could be available to you if you are someone who is receiving unemployment benefits. Talk to your unemployment officer to determine if any of the programs would make it possible for you to access pharmacy technician training. You might find that you are able to receive training at no cost at all to you. This type of program or a similar program could also be available if you are on public assistance benefits.

You should take the time to search for scholarship and tuition assistance options if you are looking to become a pharmacy technician. There is the possibility that you will not end up paying for the cost out of your own pocket.

Pharmacy Technician Description

The duties of a pharmacy technician are critical to the successful operation of pharmacies in retail or hospital settings.

Some of the tasks include compounding, preparing and dispensing prescription medications, giving advice to patients regarding non-prescription medications, keeping track of inventory and supplies, follow-up to resolve issues regarding payments, insurance questions or prescription discrepancies.

Traits such as being responsible, alert, organized, precise and self-directed would do well in this line of work. The successful pharmacy technician needs to take direction and follow directions, but also be able to work independently and learn quickly.

Strong doses of teamwork and customer service skills round out the mix.

A pharmacy technician is one that carries a great deal of responsibility, and is rewarded handsomely for a job well done.

Pharmacy Technician Salary

Much like any other career, the more education and experience you have, the higher your salary and opportunities for advancement will be.

The average median salary for a pharmacy technician is around $34,000 per year. This figure can be higher based on your experience, job location, region, training and skills.

For an entry-level tech, the rate may be between $8 to $10 per hour. The average/median hourly rate is $14 per hour. An experienced tech may make up to $18 to $20 per hour.

As you gain valuable skills and experience, the amount of money you make will surely increase.

The future of the pharmacy technician is promising, with many different career opportunities available.

Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Summary

With so many options available for getting the proper training and certification for a satisfying career as a pharmacy technician, it makes good sense to pursue this highly desirable position.

Within a relatively short period time of two years or less, you can set the stage for a responsible, highly respected and in demand career path in the medical field.

There are employment opportunities at hospitals, private pharmacies and healthcare clinics. After gaining experience, there are many advancement opportunities such as mentoring and training, sales, supervisory roles and pharmacists. Specialty fields such as nuclear or chemo pharmacy technicians are also viable options.

A pharmacy technician is a great career now and well into the future.

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