Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. They provide customer service and perform various clerical and administrative duties. Pharmacy technicians receive prescription requests from patients, count tablets and label bottles. Pharmacy technicians must be registered with the State Board of Pharmacy. Although certification is not required, pharmacy technicians can become certified by taking a qualifying examination, which is administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.
To qualify for certification, pharmacy technicians must satisfy specific coursework requirements and receive their certificate, diploma or associate degree from an accredited institution. Pharmacy technician training can be obtained at vocational schools or community colleges. The program can be completed within six months to two years. Students take courses in medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy record keeping and pharmacy law and ethics. Pharmacy technician training is comprised of classroom instruction and internships at actual pharmacies.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians award certificates to eligible pharmacy technicians. Although certification is not a requirement, candidates with a Certified Pharmacy Technician designation enhance their professional status and opportunities for career advancement. Because the pharmaceutical industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, certified pharmacy technicians can take advantage of the best employment opportunities. Candidates who complete their certificate, diploma or associate degree training are eligible for certification.
Pharmacy technicians must pass a qualifying examination, which is designed to evaluate a candidate’s knowledge and skill in all the activities that are performed by pharmacy technicians. The exam is comprised of three areas: assisting the pharmacist in serving patients, maintaining medication and inventory control systems and participating in the administration and management of pharmacy practice. Eligible candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent and no felonies or drug- and pharmacy-related convictions.
Pharmacy technicians can receive their training on-the-job; the training runs between three to 12 months. Certified pharmacy technicians must renew their credentials every two years by taking professional development and continuing-education courses. The re-certification requirement for pharmacy technicians includes 20 hours of continuing education courses within the two-year time frame. Continuing education credits can be earned by attending colleges, training programs or participating in workshops, hosted by pharmacy associations. Pharmacy technicians can earn up to 10 credit hours by training under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist.