Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a pharmacist to help dispense medications and run business operations within a pharmacy. Many receive on-the-job training, although you may choose to attend a community college or technical school to gain technical training leading to a certificate. On completion of on-the-job training or post-secondary education, you may take the pharmacy technician examination to achieve certification.
Most large pharmacies will provide on-the-job training for their pharmacy technicians. In most states, as long as you're at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED and pass a criminal background check, you can apply for positions as a pharmacy technician. On-the-job training will allow you to begin working immediately under the supervision of a pharmacist, filling prescriptions and helping patients. Some pharmacies have formal training programs accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists.
Post-secondary education will provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the job market. Courses in nutrition, anatomy and physiology will give you an understanding of the body systems. Medical terminology, pharmacology and pharmaceutical calculations will provide you with the technical knowledge necessary for dispensing medications. Pharmacy administration and health care systems courses will allow you to develop your skills in managing inventory and business operations within a pharmacy. Most post-secondary programs will take under a year to complete and lead to a certificate of completion.
Certification and Licensing
Most states require the certification or licensing of pharmaceutical technicians. Upon completing a post-secondary program or on-the-job training, you will qualify to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam. The exam consists of three sections covering topics such as assisting the pharmacist in serving patients, maintaining medication, inventory and management of the pharmacy. Passing the exam provides you with the CPhT certification, distinguishing you as a qualified job candidate and leading to higher salaries and greater opportunities for advancement.
Personal Qualities and Aptitudes
In addition to on-the-job or post-secondary training, consider whether the job will be a good fit for your personality and abilities. You'll be working directly with the public and will need to be an active listener, helpful and polite. Being detail oriented will prevent mistakes in dispensing medications and conducting financial transactions. In addition, skills working with computers will assist you while processing prescriptions, insurance paperwork and cash register transactions.