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How to become a Pharmacy Technician?

Updated on August 6, 2011

Is a career in pharmacy stable?

Three things to keep in mind when looking for a career in the pharmacy industry:

  • More people are getting older. They'll require some sort of prescription medicine.
  • The Obama administration focusing on health care. Pharmacies are a part of the health industry.
  • WalMart is building its pharmacy business.  WalMart invests in business models that will make long term money. That's why they're successful.

What does it all mean? It means jobs. Steady jobs for the foreseeable future. But you can't get it without proper education, certification, and experience.

How much does a Pharmacy Tech make in yearly salary?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for the year 2008, the national average Pharmacy Technician career salary is $28,500. The highest earners were those who worked for dentists at a salary average of $43,930.

Also, the top two paying states were Alaska and California where the average Pharmacy Tech salary were $36,240 and $36,100 respectively. Additionally, two California metro areas, San Francisco and San Jose, were tops in average annual pharmacy technician career salary at $42,660 and $40,110.

Video Clip on Pharmacy Technician Class Training

How to become a Pharmacy Technician?

There are a couple of ways to begin pharmacy technician careers depending on the state you live in and the policies of your prospective employer. Some employers, especially in retail, may be willing to hire you with no experience and no certification if you fit what they need. Then they'll train you and pay for the certification.

Another way is to enroll in a pharmacy technician school.

How long is pharmacy technician school?

A pharmacy technician school progarm usually takes 8 months to a year. From there, you can look for a job as a Pharmacy Technician with formal training under your belt. Some pharmacy technician schools have placement programs to help students find jobs after completion. In California, UEI is such a school, but it's a private school. For cheaper alternatives, you can look into local community colleges and adult school programs.

How to become a certified Pharmacy Technician?

There are two organizations who provide the pharmacy technician certification exam, PTCB (Pharmacy Technician Certification Board) and ICPT (Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians). In many states, certification is voluntary. But other states and many employers require an employee to be a certified pharmacy technician.

In states where certification is not mandatory, the requirement differs from company to company. Some retailers may hire you without certification, train you on the job, and then pay for the certification.

It is best to call you local prospective employer, whether it be WalMart, dental office, or hospitals, and ask them THEIR conditions for certification.

If certification is not required in my state, then why should I become certified?

The answer is marketability. Job hunting is competitive. When starting pharmacy technician careers, any edge you can give yourself is worthwhile in this or any market. Employers appreciate formal education in their field of work and a certification gives you minimal knowledge of the work to be had.

Additionally, if you ever want to move to another state or company that requires certification, then you'll be able to qualify right away.

What Pharmacy Technician do everyday?

Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists provide medicine and other prescribed health care products to patients. In a retail setting, pharmacy techs typically provide the customer service, the stocking of medicine and medical supplies, answer the phone, and other tasks.

In hospitals and physicians offices, pharmacy technicians check prescriptions for accuracy, prepare the proper dosage of medicine, and maintain medicine data on the patients. They also assist as required by the licensed pharmacist.

Video Excerpt President Obama on Healthcare Reform

More no Recession Proof Careers

Learn more about other healthcare careers:

  • How to become a Medical Coder: Good time to look into this healthcare job that's not known to many.  Will gain benefit from the stimulus plan that Congress and President Obama passed to help the future of America.

Learn about other careers depending on your skills and what you want to do:


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    • profile image

      Jane - pharmacy technician certification 

      8 years ago

      I've been a pharmacy technician for 3 years, and I can say it's a terrific career. The top pharmacy chains like CVS, Krogers, Target, etc are ALWAYS hiring, this is one profession that will be growing the fastest over the next decade.

      Great hub, I enjoyed it.


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