How to Become a Pharmacy Technician
Are you interested in a career as a Pharmacy Technician? You came to the right place. This guide is packed with information and resources for becoming a Pharmacy Technician. Learn about educational requirements for the job, what the position pays and more.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
Pharmacy Technicians perform a variety of tasks that range from preparing prescriptions under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist to processing pharmacy transactions. Many Pharmacy Technicians work in pharmacies in retail settings, such as grocery stores and big box stores, while others work in healthcare facilities, including hospitals and clinics.
Being a Pharmacy Technician requires both technical knowledge and strong customer service skills. Some common Pharmacy Technician duties and responsibilities include:
- Clerical tasks, such as inputting data into computers and maintaining up-to-date patient information
- Customer service tasks, such as greeting customers and answering customer questions
- Technical tasks, such as counting pills and preparing medications
Pharmacy Technician Skills
Technical skill is an important part of working as a Pharmacy Technician, but it’s only half the equation. Being a Pharmacy Technician means working with customers. And a Pharmacy Technician can expect to encounter dozens of sick, uncomfortable and frustrated customers every day. First and foremost, Pharmacy Technicians should be patient, empathetic and slow to take offense. The ability to manage stress and maintain accuracy in a fast-paced environment also is crucial. Often working in tight spaces with multiple colleagues, Pharmacy Technicians should be pleasant, diplomatic and ready to hop on any task that needs to be done when things start getting busy.
Other key Pharmacy Technician skills include:
- Typing proficiency
- Ability to follow procedures
- Good memory
- Proficiency with math
How Do You Become a Pharmacy Technician?
Education and Training
According to our analysis of online job postings, employers are looking for Pharmacy Technician candidates who have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition, most job postings we looked at required prospective Pharmacy Technicians to have successfully completed a training program, such as those offered by community colleges and vocational schools, and obtained an associate degree or certificate.
Certificate programs generally take about a year to complete, while it takes about two years to obtain an associate degree. Pharmacology, pharmacy math, laboratory skills and basic chemistry are some of the subjects covered in Pharmacy Technician programs. Associate degree programs also require students to complete general education courses, such as English, science and humanities. In addition to classroom learning, Pharmacy Technicians often are required to participate in an externship. After that, much of their training is acquired on the job.
Completing a training course may also be a state requirement. Depending on what state you’re in, you also may be required to submit an application to the state pharmacy board for certification before you are permitted to work as a Pharmacy Technician. Even in states that do not have specific certification requirements, employers often give preference to candidates who have completed a training program. Use the link here to find out the Pharmacy Technician requirements for your state.
Finding a Job
Demand for Pharmacy Technicians is increasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 9 percent growth for the position through 2024, amounting to a total of 34,700 openings for Pharmacy Technicians during that period. The faster-than-average growth for the profession is being driven primarily by an aging population and more people having health insurance.
Given this projected growth, aspiring Pharmacy Technicians are likely to find many job opportunities at pharmacies located at hospitals, clinics, drug stores and grocery stores, among other retail establishments.
Any successful job search begins with crafting a high-quality resume that highlights your skills and experience. For guidance on creating a resume, take a look at JobHero’s library of Pharmacy Technician resume samples.
Once your resume is complete, search online for job opportunities. As you look for Pharmacy Technician openings, be sure to make the most of your professional network, including people you met through your externship.
When applying for jobs, write a cover letter that expresses your interest in the position and highlights your qualifications and what you would bring to the role. Take a look at our Pharmacy Technician cover letter sample for help.
Insights from a Pharmacy Technician
In order to get an inside look at how to become a Pharmacy Technician, we talked to Certified Pharmacy Technician Bridget Smaczniak, who also is director of the Pharmacy Technician program at Concorde Career College in Kansas City, Mo. Here’s what she had to tell us.
What Is the Common Career Path for Pharmacy Technicians?
The pharmaceutical industry is extremely diverse and offers many different types of practice settings for Pharmacy Technicians. Generally a Pharmacy Technician begins as an entry-level technician or Pharmacy Technician I. The type of duties a technician performs within their pharmacy practice setting greatly depends on the type of practice and the specific employer. This position would have limited responsibilities and is generally supervised by both a Pharmacist and a Senior or Lead Pharmacy Technician. Within Specialty Pharmacy practices there can be additional room for growth into specialty activities, such as sterile compounding or management roles.
What Career Advancement Opportunities Are Available to Pharmacy Technicians?
With additional training, Pharmacy Technicians are well positioned to return to college and attend pharmacy school to become Pharmacists, or a healthcare/business management program to build on their pharmacy knowledge and fill roles in other areas of medical practice management. There are also opportunities within the academic community to train new Pharmacy Technicians.
Who Makes a Good Pharmacy Technician?
The type of person who will excels as a Pharmacy Technician is detail-oriented, interested in many aspects of healthcare and is devoted to providing the highest quality of patient care. The variety of pharmacy practice types make it possible for a Pharmacy Technician to find the right type of pharmacy for them.
What Should Someone Consider Before Becoming a Pharmacy Technician?
Before pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician, people should determine what their short and long-term goals are. If a career in healthcare is for them and they are not sure which avenue to take, then an initial career as a pharmacy technician is an excellent option to get them started within the healthcare profession.
How Much Do Pharmacy Technicians Get Paid?
Pharmacy Technicians are typically paid on an hourly basis, with the median hourly wage in the United States being $14.33. The lowest-paid Pharmacy Technicians make about $10 per hour, while the highest-paid can earn more than $21.
Top 10 States for Pharmacy Technician Salary
Pharmacy Technicians in the following states make the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.
- Washington: $19.30
- Alaska: $19.20
- California: $18.28
- Oregon: $17.37
- Hawaii: $17.27
- North Dakota: $17.16
- Wyoming: $16.47
- Washington D.C.: $16.33
- Utah: $16.06
- Colorado: $15.84
Pharmacy Technician Resources
We compiled this list of additional resources to help you continue exploring a career as a Pharmacy Technician.
American Association of Pharmacy Technicians – The oldest professional group for Pharmacy Technicians, the AAPT provides networking opportunities and industry news, among other services. The group offers reduced membership rates to students and new Pharmacy Technicians.
National Pharmacy Technician Association – The NPTA reports to be the largest professional group for Pharmacy Technicians. The group, open to students and Pharmacy Technicians, provides training and career development resources, along with industry news, networking opportunities and other services. Connect with the NPTA on LinkedIn.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board – Comprising several state and national pharmacists associations, the PTCB has established a national standard for Pharmacy Technician certification. The group’s website is home to a variety of resources. The PTCB also maintains a group on LinkedIn.
Pharmacy Technician Websites
Pharmacy Tech Study – This site offers tutorials in pharmacy math and math, among others. The site also has practice tests and a forum.
Pharmacy Tech Review – This blog is updated frequently with posts that explore all aspects of being a Pharmacy Technician.
The Honest Apothecary – Focusing on the retail pharmacy business, this blog provides insightful posts on all things pharmacy related.
Pharmacy Technicians on Twitter
@npta – Come to the official Twitter account of the National Pharmacy Technician Association for industry news and other updates.
Pharmacy Technician Books
Mosby’s Review for the PTCE – This comprehensive study guide covers everything you need to know to pass the Pharmacist Technician Certification Examination.
The Pharmacy Technician – Written for students, this book details Pharmacy Technician fundamentals.