As a pharmacy technician you will work under the supervision of a lead pharmacist and will be responsible for preparing and administering medication. Not all states require pharmacy technician certification; however obtaining the pharmacy technician certification will significantly increase your chances when it comes to finding employment after completing a formal training program.
Certificate and Degree Programs for the Pharmacy Technician
The certificate program for the pharmacy tech can be completed in one to two years and will teach students how to fill prescriptions, interact with patients and mix, weigh and measure medications. Student will also learn how to work closely with pharmacists and how to refer patients to pharmacist consultations, should they have questions regarding their prescription. Common education requirements prior to enrolling in a certificate program will include being the minimum age of 18 and having a high school diploma or state equivalent.
Courses for this program will include anatomy, physiology, drug absorption, pharmacology ethics and laws, pharmacy procedures, drug interactions, medical terminology and medical transcription. During your enrollment in this program you can participate in an internship program, working and learning under the supervision of a professional pharmacist, gaining valuable field experience. As an intern you will observe the pharmacist at work, assist in counting medications and take inventory of drugs stored in the pharmacy.
Some colleges and universities will also offer an associate’s degree program for the pharmacy technician which will include a one year internship in a pharmacy setting during the final year of the program. Associate’s degree programs can be more commonly found at online universities for this specific career field. Courses for this program will include drug interactions, adverse effects, medication dispensation, pharmacology basics, anatomy, medication absorption rates, medical terminology, chemistry, biology and medical law and ethics.
Since a pharmacy technician will need to interact with patients and other medical health professionals they will need to have good customer service and communication skills. They will also need to have good spelling, have basic computer skills and be detail oriented.
Earning your Certification in this Field
Pharmacy technician requirements will vary by state so it’s important for the student to know whether they are required to have certification before pursuing employment. Voluntary certification is also available for this field and can be helpful when trying to find employment. The two organizations that offer the pharmacy technician certification are the PTCB, also known as the Pharmacy Technician Certification board and the NHA, or National Health Career Association. In order to be eligible for the certification exam the applicant will need to have their high school diploma and proof of completion from an accredited pharmacy technician certificate program, or two years of work experience in the pharmacology industry.