Pharmacy Technician Certification – How Long Will it Take?

There are so many more career opportunities in the health care field these days!

People live longer than ever before and the infant mortality rate is so much lower than it was, even fifty years ago. If you’re considering a career in any area of the health care field – and especially if you get your pharmacy technician certification — you’ll never find yourself unemployed for long.

One of the most rewarding careers is that of a pharmacy technician.  You have the power to help people improve their health and their lives, and what is more rewarding than that?

This role is designed to assist the pharmacist in the dispensing process and the filling of physicians’ prescriptions. This allows the pharmacist to do what he is trained to do – provide pharmaceutical care. Technicians work alongside the pharmacist, doing pretty much the same tasks, such as assisting patients and answering their questions, filling prescriptions, communicating with physicians and hospitals and so on. The only difference is that these duties are carried out under the pharmacist’s supervision.

A Career in High Demand

pharmacy technician certification and trainingThe need for pharmacy assistants is expected to grow due to the pharmaceutical needs of an increasingly larger and older population.

There is also a far wider use of many medications which were not available to previous generations – and with the advances in science and research, more medications are available to treat more conditions. Today, there are many more middle-aged and elderly people who on average, use more prescription drugs than do younger people. Thus, the demand for pharmacy technicians can only increase in the future.  This is supported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics which estimates that pharmacy technician jobs will increase by 31% over the next few years.

Those who work in hospital pharmacies generally earn more than those in store pharmacies – the pay range is between $10.50 to upwards of $13 per hour. And, as the pay expectations are higher at hospital pharmacies and other locations such as senior care homes, it follows that they hire the best qualified technicians – those who have earned their pharmacy technician certification.

Pharmacy Technician Education

Of course, you have to qualify in this profession, but that is also becoming easier each year as more and more schools offer the necessary training courses which lead you towards your certification as a pharmacy technician.  When searching for a training program you have many options.  Many career colleges and vocational schools offer courses that result in a diploma or certificate and prepare you to take the national PTCB exam.  Many community colleges also offer training programs where students have the option of working towards an Associate’s Degree at the same time.

Pharmacy technician training can be accomplished at a recognized or accredited school or, if you prefer, you can take the courses online. Clearly, all courses are not created equal and it’s a good plan to check them out and compare one with another, taking into consideration the level of learning, the length of time it takes, and most important of all – whether it will qualify you to take the pharmacy technician certification exam.

Training for Pharmacy Technician Certification Usually Includes:

  • Human Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacy Law and Ethics
  • Pharmacy Mathematics
  • Retail Pharmacy Practice
  • Sterile Product Preparation
  • Pharmacy Compounding to name just a few.

Much of the subject matter is “hands-on” and is done within a class laboratory.

Pharmacy Technician Schooling Length

Generally, a pharmacy technician’s course will take from six months to a year to complete, depending on the course offered and its content. During that time, you learn how to run a pharmacy, following the accepted and correct pharmaceutical guidelines, how to mix and fill prescriptions, how to calculate the correct drug doses, etc., while working alongside and under the supervision of the Pharmacist.

There are also many administrative tasks involved in a pharmacy; it is an office too and you’ll be preparing drug inventories, dealing with medical suppliers, working with health insurance companies, maintaining patient records and answering the telephone.

Once you’ve completed the training, the next, critically important step is to take the pharmacy technician certification board’s examination which is expected of you if you wish to enter this profession. Currently, there are not many State and Federal laws which govern the requirements for certification but it is expected that you would take and pass either the PTCB (Pharmacy Technician Certification Board) exam or the ExCPT which is equally recognized.

Fast Track Your Pharmacy Technician Certification

What options do you have if you need to complete a pharmacy technician’s course more quickly and need to do it in less than a year?

Fortunately, there are several options open to you. Keep in mind that those who employ pharmacy technicians prefer to hire those who have earned their certification. It’s possible to study for just the examination by studying the test material or by taking one of the “crash” courses which are offered online and by many schools. These courses can be several hours or a few days in length, but all will provide you with the necessary information you need to pass the certification examination.

If you go online, there’s a site for the PTCB where you can find more information and also test yourself using past examination material – there is a charge for this. The secret is to be aware of what’s needed for the examination and ensure that you know it before trying out a “practice” exam, otherwise it can cost you quite a lot of money.

More Than a Job

As a pharmacy technician you will help people every day.  Your knowledge of medicine and how it affects each patient is critical to the overall health of the community.  Once you are trained as a technician you can become so much more – you can help save lives.

As you grow in knowledge and experience you will see the benefits of your pharmacy technician certification.  This growing field is fulfilling, rewarding and can serve as a foundation for you if you choose to advance your career in the health care field.

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