How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

One of the lesser talked about careers in the health care industry is the role pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy plays an important role in patient care and wellness and is rewarding, both monetarily and in job satisfaction. Pharmacy technicians use specialized knowledge to prepare and administer medication under the auspices of a licensed pharmacist. Here is a brief summary of how to become a pharmacy technician: decide on a degree program and school that suits your budgetary and time constraints; research internship and other job training opportunities, both through your school and outside; prepare for certification and licensure requirements of your state; and think about what factors increase salary considerations within the industry. By arming yourself with the proper knowledge before you set out on your career, you should be able to maximize your potential and get the most out of your education and training.

Degree programs in pharmacist technician studies come in all shapes and sizes. Hospitals and pharmacies favor hiring those with an education in pharmacy. Many pharmacy technicians complete a certificate program that last from six months to a year and are administered by community colleges, vocational schools, colleges, and universities. Associateís degrees in pharmacy studies are another option, although they take about two years to complete and include coursework outside of the specific field of pharmacy tech. This is a decision that must be taken seriously when considering a career as a pharmacy technician.

A degree is not enough to ensure a good position working for a respected pharmacist. Job training is a must. In fact, the right job training is a way for you to set yourself apart from candidates with similar educational backgrounds. Many large hospitals have training programs for pharmacy technicians, because the necessary skills they are largely learned through practice. States have standards and regulations, but many hospitals and pharmacies also have their own rules and processes for preparing and handling controlled substances. These procedures are best learned in a work environment.

Once you have completed your education and training, there is one extra step to overcome before you are ready to begin your career. All states license their pharmacy professionals. Some states have a board of pharmacy while others have a department of medicine that determines the licensing requirements for their state. Licensees must pass a test that demonstrates their knowledge of local and state laws concerning pharmacy and the distribution of controlled substances. Questions cover working in a hospital environment and include information about where and how medicines must be stored. There are also requirements for renewing licenses. Most licenses last for a couple of years at most. This is to ensure that pharmacy technicians keep current on new laws and medications throughout their careers.

Putting yourself in a position to increase your salary over time and advance in your career is a vital piece of preparation. Adding certifications and degrees is a sure way to qualify for a higher wage and to advance in your career. Becoming an administrator requires the addition of management courses to your resume. Moving from a job as a pharmacy technician to one as a pharmacist requires more schooling as well. Pharmacists generally have a bachelorís or masterís degree in pharmacy. The extra schooling means a significant boost in salary and career earnings, so those working in the trade have something to aspire to. The next step after learning how to become a pharmacy technician might be learning how to become a pharmacist.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014