Become a Pharmacy Technician

Learn about the role and responsibilities of pharmacy technicians, salary expectations, top online pharmacy tech schools, skills learned during training, certification timelines, and top industry players. Click the link below to learn more.

Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in the healthcare industry, supporting pharmacists and ensuring the efficient operation of pharmacies. This guide will provide an overview of the role and responsibilities of pharmacy technicians, average salary expectations, popular online pharmacy tech schools, essential skills learned during training, certification timelines, and top industry players.

Role and Responsibility of Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in various tasks, ensuring that patients receive their medications accurately and efficiently. Key responsibilities include:

  1. Dispensing Medications: Preparing and dispensing prescription medications under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist.
  2. Customer Service: Interacting with customers, answering questions, and managing prescription refills.
  3. Inventory Management: Managing pharmacy inventory, including ordering, storing, and organizing medications.
  4. Administrative Tasks: Handling administrative duties such as processing insurance claims, maintaining patient records, and managing billing.
  5. Compounding Medications: Preparing customized medications by mixing ingredients, a task that requires precision and adherence to safety protocols.

Average Salary of Pharmacy Technicians

The salary of a pharmacy technician can vary based on location, experience, and the type of employer. On average:

  • Entry-Level: Approximately $25,000 to $30,000 per year.
  • Experienced: Between $35,000 and $45,000 annually.
  • Top Earners: Can earn up to $50,000 or more, especially in specialized settings like hospitals or research facilities.

Popular Online Pharmacy Tech Schools

Online programs offer flexibility for those looking to become certified pharmacy technicians. Some popular online pharmacy tech schools include:

  1. Penn Foster: Offers a comprehensive online pharmacy technician program with self-paced courses.
  2. Ashworth College: Provides an affordable online program with interactive courses and hands-on training opportunities.
  3. University of Phoenix: Known for its robust online education system and flexible learning schedules.
  4. CareerStep: Offers a well-regarded pharmacy technician program with industry-specific training and externship opportunities.
  5. AlliedRx Institute of Healthcare: Provides online certification programs with an emphasis on practical skills and job placement assistance.

What Skills Will You Learn During Your Program?

Pharmacy technician programs equip students with a range of skills essential for their role, including:

  1. Pharmaceutical Knowledge: Understanding medications, their uses, dosages, and side effects.
  2. Prescription Processing: Learning how to accurately read and process prescriptions.
  3. Compounding Techniques: Developing skills in mixing medications and preparing customized drug formulations.
  4. Customer Service: Enhancing communication skills to effectively interact with patients and healthcare professionals.
  5. Regulatory Knowledge: Understanding laws and regulations governing pharmacy practice, including safety standards and ethical considerations.

How Long Does Certification Take?

The timeline for becoming a certified pharmacy technician can vary, but generally includes:

  • Education: Completing an accredited pharmacy technician program, which typically takes 6 months to 1 year.
  • Certification Exam: Passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) or the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT), which requires additional study and preparation time.
  • On-the-Job Training: Many employers require a period of supervised training, which can range from a few weeks to several months.

Overall, the process from education to certification can take anywhere from 9 months to 1.5 years.

Top Players in the Pharmacy Technician Industry

Several organizations and companies are leaders in the field of pharmacy technician education and certification:

  1. Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB): Offers the PTCE, a widely recognized certification exam.
  2. National Healthcareer Association (NHA): Provides the ExCPT certification exam.
  3. CVS Health: Known for employing a large number of pharmacy technicians and offering in-house training programs.
  4. Walgreens: Offers robust training programs and career advancement opportunities for pharmacy technicians.
  5. Rite Aid: Provides comprehensive training and certification support for new pharmacy technicians.

Current Promotions and Offers

Many pharmacy technician programs and certification bodies offer promotions and discounts:

  • Penn Foster: Often has promotional discounts on tuition fees for their pharmacy technician program.
  • Ashworth College: Frequently offers scholarships and flexible payment plans to make education more affordable.
  • CareerStep: Regularly provides discounts on tuition and financial aid options.
  • PTCB: Occasionally offers discounts on certification exam fees for early registration or group applications.
  • Walgreens and CVS Health: Sometimes offer signing bonuses and tuition reimbursement for employees pursuing certification.