In the dynamic and ever-growing world of healthcare, pharmacy technicians play an essential role in ensuring the smooth operation of pharmacies and providing essential support to pharmacists.
But if you are looking to start your career as a Pharmacy Technician, you must have several questions.
We have answered some of the burning FAQs aspiring techs have. These answers will give you clarity about the career, and some common myths will be busted.
1) Is this job suitable for me?
Suitability in any field completely depends on your interest. If you feel satisfied helping others and love to face challenges in a dynamic pharmaceutical industry, then to start your career, this job is a perfect fit for you.
2) What does it require to pursue this career?
To start a career as a pharmacy technician, you will have to fulfill certain requirements.
Let us understand some of these requirements –
Education and Training:
# High School Diploma: The minimum requirement to start your career as a Pharmacy Technician is a high school diploma.
# Formal Education/Training: Complete a pharmacy technician training program. Programs for pharmacy techs are offered by community colleges, vocational schools, universities, and some hospitals.
The duration of programs is dependent on the type of program you choose, and they can range from several months to a year.
Read More: Pharmacy technician online schools
While certification is not always required, getting certified as a pharmacy technician can bring you more opportunities for career advancement and further improve your job prospects and earning potential.
# Certification organizations: To get the certification there are two main certification organizations. Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National HealthCareer Association (NHA).
# Certification exams: To become a certified pharmacy technician, you will need to pass the certification exam administered by one of the organizations discussed above.
Licensing and Registration:
There are necessary steps in order to get licensed as a pharmacy technician. You will first need to submit an application to register yourself, along with application fees.
Requirements vary by state and country. In some regions, pharmacy technicians must be licensed or registered with a regulatory body.
It is highly advisable to contact your local state board of pharmacy or regulatory agency to determine the specific licensing requirements in your area.
3) Are there any specific skills required to become a pharmacy technician?
As a pharmacy tech, you’re helping patients, and hence, strong communication skills are a must. Not only that, you should always have an empathetic ear while listening to their concerns.
Secondly, in a pharmacy, you will generally be multitasking and handling various roles. Strong attention to detail while dispensing medicines and the ability to multitask are a must.
Along with these, familiarity with basic technology and proficiency in various electronic platforms that are used in the pharmaceutical field is also crucial.
Read More: Pharmacy technician skills
4) What are the day-to-day tasks of a pharmacy technician?
As a pharmacy technician, you will have a lot of things to do. Your daily tasks will include handling prescriptions and dispensing medications to patients, stock management, and maintaining a well-organized pharmacy environment.
Sometimes you may have to take follow-ups with the insurance companies on behalf of patients to get their claims filed.
Read More: What does a pharmacy technician do?
5) What is the duration of a training program for pharmacy technicians?
Typically, a certificate program takes around 10 months to complete, while an associate degree program requires up to two years of study. So, the duration of the training program completely depends on the choice of the training program that you choose.
6) What is the salary for this job?
According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average wage for a pharmacy technician is $15.90 per hour, and annually the average salary is $33,060.
However, this may vary depending on the location, experiences, and other related factors.
Read More: Pharmacy Technician Salary
7) Is there a demand for this career?
According to BLS, the demand for pharmacy technicians is projected to increase by 11.83% from 2016 to 2026, which is far greater than the average growth rate for all other occupations.
This growth is because of certain factors, such as an aging population, an increase in chronic diseases, and more individuals obtaining health insurance.
Related: Pharmacy technician facts
8) Can I see growth in this career?
The profession of pharmacy technician is gaining a lot of advancement nowadays. You have an ocean of opportunities to grow. There are various ways to advance as a pharmacy technician.
Pursuing further education, such as certification in pharmaceutical compounding or specialization in nuclear pharmacy, can open doors and get opportunities for higher-level roles.
Additionally, pharmacy technicians working in large retail stores or healthcare facilities may get the chance to work as supervisors.
9) Is there any specific uniform for a pharmacy technician?
Most professions have their own dress codes. Pharmacy technicians typically wear uniforms or white jackets provided by hospitals, pharmacies, or retail stores to differentiate themselves from others clearly and to identify their role.
10) What happens if I make a mistake while dispensing medication?
Committing mistakes in this field can be life-threatening and may even cause fatalities. As regulated healthcare professionals, pharmacy technicians are held responsible for any errors.
According to legislation, all registered technicians are required to carry professional liability insurance to address such situations.
11) Are part-time positions available for pharmacy technicians?
Part-time positions for pharmacy technicians are commonly available. Many pharmacies, including retail pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics, offer part-time employment opportunities for pharmacy technicians.
Part-time positions allow individuals to work fewer hours per week compared to full-time positions, providing more flexibility for those who may have other commitments or prefer a reduced work schedule.
If you are interested in pursuing a part-time role as a pharmacy technician, you can search for job openings at local pharmacies or healthcare facilities.
12) Is it advisable to start this course online?
Yes, why not? Online programs provide convenience and flexibility, making them an excellent option that many individuals prefer.
It is important to consider whether the program includes an externship and whether it adequately prepares you for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) test, which can enhance or increase your employment opportunities in the future.
13) What does the certification exam include?
The overall duration of the PTCB exam is of two hours, with a total of 90 questions, of which 10 are pre-test questions that will not affect your final grade.
You will have 1 hour and 50 minutes to complete the computerized PTCB exam, and the remaining 80 questions will decide your final score.
- Nearly 13.75% of the questions are related to assisting the pharmacist, for example, administering medications to patients, managing inventory, record keeping, and identifying medicines supply in the pharmacy. Familiarity with the top 200 drugs list and sig codes is necessary for this category of the exam.
- Around 12.75% of the questions focus on pharmaceutical laws and regulations, ensuring that the knowledge of legal requirements is clear.
- About 8.07% of the questions cover both sterile and non-sterile compounding, focusing on the importance of understanding and practicing proper techniques in these areas.
- Medical safety accounts for 12.5% of the questions, emphasizing the significance of maintaining a safe environment for patients as well as staff.
- 7.5% of the questions are about Quality assurance, highlighting the importance of ensuring that medications and procedures meet the required standards.
- Accounting and billing make up 8.75% of the questions, focusing on the need to understand financial aspects in the pharmacy setting. Similarly, 8.75% of the questions are dedicated to inventory management.
- 10% of the questions focus on computing and the use of applications, indicating proficiency in the technology used to run the computer software.
- Processing prescriptions and handling ordering data account for 17.5% of the questions, highlighting the importance of managing prescriptions and maintaining organized ordering data.
14) What are the various types of job roles for pharmacy technicians?
Pharmacy technicians are primarily employed by retail pharmacies. In a pharmacy setting, your responsibilities will involve dispensing medications to patients under the guidance and supervision of a pharmacist.
Additionally, you will be involved in tasks such as inventory management, accounting, and billing.
After retail pharmacies, hospitals and clinics are the second most common employers of pharmacy technicians. In these settings, you will be part of a healthcare team, and your duties may include administering medications to patients.
Further, you might also be responsible for following up with discharged patients regarding their medicine schedule and health.
Besides the above-discussed pharmacy settings, other work environments for pharmacy technicians include pharmaceutical companies and research labs.
Related: Pharmacy technician vs pharmacist
15) What factors should I consider when selecting a program?
Be it an on-campus or online program, there are three key factors to consider:
Accreditation: As a Pharmacy Technician, you will choose to start your journey with an accredited organization. Make sure you choose a program from an accredited source.
Externship Opportunities: Since on-the-job training is an integral part of most certification and degree programs, it is crucial to evaluate the types of externships offered by the program. Further, you may consider whether they provide practical training experiences that align with your career goals.
Preparation for Certification: Ensure that the program provides adequate training to prepare you for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) exam, as obtaining certification can enhance your employment prospects in the near future.
16) How frequently do I need to renew my certification?
Pharmacy technicians are required to renew their certification every two years by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
17) What if I relocate to a different state? Will my certification still be valid?
Pharmacy Technician Certification has nationwide acceptance, but the regulations governing pharmacy technicians may differ state-wise.
It is advisable to contact your local board of pharmacy in the new state to verify the requirements for maintaining certification in your new location.
18) What steps are involved in becoming a certified pharmacy technician?
To obtain certification as a pharmacy technician, you will need to fulfill certain requirements. One is to pass the PTCB (Pharmacy Technician Certification Board) exam.
Other than this, you can also earn certification through the National Health Career Association (NHA). The NHA requires either the completion of a training program or a minimum of one year of experience working as a pharmacy technician.
19) Which certification option, PTCB or NHA, is recommended?
Both the PTCB and NHA programs are accredited; the choice may vary depending on the state. Although, PTCB has greater recognition and is generally more well-known, making it a preferable option.
20) What is the process for obtaining a pharmacy technician license?
The process of obtaining a pharmacy technician license is different in each state. Before applying for your license, it’s important to consider these common requirements:
- Payment of fees for the license application and issuance
- PTCB certificate or other educational proof
- The overall waiting period required to get your license processed
To complete the licensing process, you should reach out to your local licensing organization. Many states provide their licensing procedures and form online, so contacting the appropriate organization will help you finalize your licensing requirements.
21) What are the advantages of pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician?
A career as a Pharmacy technician has many perks and benefits, some of which are:
Increasing demand: With the rise in chronic diseases and the baby boomer population, Pharmacy technician jobs are in high demand.
Quick certification: Like other professions, a career as Pharmacy Technician doesn’t require years to get certified. You can become certified in less than a year.
Continuous Patient interaction: The job allows you to help patients and engage in social interactions, providing a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Good salary package: Pharmacy technicians enjoy good salary packages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average wage for a pharmacy technician is $15.90 per hour, and when we talk about annual salary, the figure is $33,060.
22) What are the disadvantages of working as a pharmacy technician?
A career as a Pharmacy Technician involves various drawbacks. Let’s understand some of the drawbacks associated with this career-
Zero tolerance for errors and mistakes: Dispensing medications requires a high level of accuracy, as even a minor mistake can have serious consequences.
Unpredictable work schedule: Many pharmacies operate 24/7, meaning you may have to work night shifts, weekends, and even holidays, which makes this profession hectic.
Continuing education: Recertification is required every two years, which needs continuous education and training.
23) What software programs should I be familiar with as a pharmacy technician?
To excel as a pharmacy technician, it is important to hold command of the following software programs:
Accounting software: There is various accounting software used for patient billing management. Basic knowledge of operating such software is very important for a Pharmacy Technician.
Inventory management software: This software is used to analyze the stock levels, orders, sales, and deliveries of medicines in a Pharmacy. Having a detailed knowledge of such software makes it easy to manage the inventory.
Label-making software: Labeling medications is important when it comes to dispensing medications. This can be done by using software that facilitates accurate medication labeling.
Medical software: Involves managing patient records and processing prescriptions.
24) When should I apply for recertification?
To ensure a smooth recertification process, you should submit your application 60 days before the certification expiry date.
The application deadline is the first day of the certification expiry date. If you apply after the deadline, you may be charged a late fee of $25 in addition to the regular application fee.
25) Is the pharmacy technician career well-paid in Canada?
The average salary for pharmacy technicians in Canada is influenced by various factors within the healthcare industry. On average, the hourly wage for a pharmacy technician in Canada is estimated to be CAD$14.17 per hour.
These figures may fluctuate as other factors are also responsible for determining the salary of a Pharmacy Technician in a particular geographical location.
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