How to Become A Pharmacy Technician
Reviewed By: Dr. KimDao Collier
Update February 2023
The demand for healthcare services has been growing in recent years. The expansion of health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and the increasing need for medical attention for the Baby Boomer generation has contributed to the demand for healthcare occupations. This includes pharmacy technicians.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the healthcare field is projected to grow 16% from 2022 to 2032. This will add about 2.6 million new jobs. The BLS is projecting that the pharmacy technician field will see a 4% growth. With the demand for healthcare services and the workload increase brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for Pharmacy Technicians will likely increase in the coming years.
As Pharmacies continue to experience a Pharmacy Tech shortage, there will be a need for techs to help pharmacists. They will be needed to handle inventory, assist customers, and do other work to help with the day-to-day operations. There are a few ways to become a pharmacy technician, before making the decision it is best to have a full sense of what a pharmacy technician does.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
Pharmacy technicians are responsible for a variety of tasks and work under a licensed pharmacist. The duties that pharmacy technicians are responsible for vary depending on where they work, but can include:
- Labeling and packaging prescriptions
- Measuring medication
- Acting as a liaison between the customer and pharmacist
- Managing and organizing inventories
- Delivering medication to nursing stations, patients, or surgical rooms
- Accepting payments for medications
Pharmacy technicians have a lot of options when they are deciding where they would like to work, including:
- Drug stores and pharmacies
- Food and beverage stores
- Mail-order pharmacies
- Big-box retailers
Why Become a Pharmacy Technician
Like many other jobs in the healthcare industry, pharmacy technicians get to help people every day. For a pharmacy to run efficiently, a pharmacy technician is essential. Other than helping people, there are many other reasons why becoming a pharmacy technician is a good career choice. Here are a few of those reasons:
- The pay is good, up to $36,740 with the potential to earn more!
- You will learn a lot
- There is great job security
- The field is growing quickly
- It’s a great way to see if becoming a certified pharmacist is right for you
Steps to Become a Pharmacy Technician
With the right motivation and enough determination, you can become a pharmacy technician.
- Earn A High School Diploma or Equivalent
- Attend an Accredited Pharmacy Technician Training Program
- Finish an Externship
- Take the PTCT or ExCPTCertification Exam
- Apply for a Job
The minimum requirement to become a pharmacy technician is to receive your diploma or equivalent, like the GED. If you want to become a pharmacy technician, but never received your high school diploma, you can consider enrolling in our Online High School Program. We also offer a healthcare pathway, so you can begin exploring the healthcare career while working towards your diploma.
Although it is possible to get employment as a pharmacy technician with just a high school diploma, many employers prefer formal training and or certification. Many states require certification or a license as well
One way to get certified is to attend an accredited school, like U.S. Career Institute's online pharmacy technician program. Successful completion of this program will prepare you for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT) offered through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Completing an externship can be helpful when seeking employment. U.S. Career Institute proudly partners with Walgreens to provide externships for students that attend our Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program.
As previously mentioned, certification is required in many states and preferred by many employers to be a pharmacy technician. Once you have completed formal training through a PTCB-recognized Education/Training Program or equivalent work experience you will be prepared to take the PTCE certification exam
Or you can choose to take the ExCPT certification exam through the NHA which requires that you complete a pharmacy technician training program within the last 5 years or have 1 year of work experience with at least 1,200 hours of supervised pharmacy-related work within the last 3 years.
Once you have passed your exam and have received your certification you can start applying for entry-level pharmacy technician roles.
If you are ready to start your new exciting career as a pharmacy technician then there is no better time to start than now! Visit our Online Pharmacy Technician Program page to learn more about getting started.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Pharmacy Technicians, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm, (visited October 1, 2021). Statements found in the United States Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook are not a guarantee of any post-graduation salary, in part because the data used to create the Occupational Outlook Handbook includes workers from differing educational backgrounds, levels of experience, and geographic areas of the country.