One of the benefits of training for a career in health occupations is that adults can change careers with a little additional training as the core educational classes remain the same for each career. Licensed vocational nurses who want to change careers and become pharmacy technicians can do so -- in some states with little additional training.
Each state differs in its licensing requirements for pharmacy technicians. Some states, such as California, require that pharmacy technicians be licensed and take courses at a local community college or vocational/technical school. Other states, such as Alaska, require that pharmacy technicians apply for a license and pass a background check, but they do not require any additional classes. Many states, such as Oklahoma, require completion of on-the-job training with either a pharmacist or the pharmacy manager. While LVNs have a license for nursing, they need to obtain an additional license to become a pharmacy technician.
Some states, like South Carolina, require that students take courses toward certification as pharmacy technicians. Community colleges and vocational/technical schools offer classes for students interested in a career as a pharmacy tech. Greenville Technical College has a program for pharmacy technicians. The first semester of the program is general coursework, and the second semester is spent in pharmacy coursework. The third semester is spent at a job site gaining the hours of training necessary to become a pharmacy technician in South Carolina. Upon completion of this program, students receive an Associate in Applied Science degree and are eligible for licensing. Greenville Tech also offers a rapid licensing program for pharmacy technicians that does not take as long, but students receive a certificate of completion, rather than an associate degree. Because LVNs have already completed many of the general courses needed for pharmacy tech, they should be able to bypass the first semester of coursework for an additional degree if they want to pursue one.
States like California require that pharmacy technicians take and pass a certification examination prior to licensing. There are two national certification examinations for pharmacy technicians. LVNs who want to become pharmacy technicians will have to take the licensing exam because it differs from the exam for vocational nurses. The Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians is a two-hour, 110-question, multiple-choice exam. Questions center on pharmacy technician duties and responsibilities, drugs, and drug dispensing procedures. The ExCPT is recognized in 17 states. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board exam is a two-hour, 90-question, multiple-choice exam. Questions focus on how pharmacy technicians assist the pharmacist, the proper way to maintain medicine and inventory, and pharmacy practice. The PTCB exam is recognized in 45 states.
On-the-Job Training Requirements
Just as LVNs must complete clinicals while in training for certification as a vocational nurse, a pharmacy technician must -- in nearly every state -- complete training hours under a pharmacist or pharmacy manager. Each state differs on the amount of hours needed to complete the training requirement. Some states allow pharmacy technicians to complete the training after they have been hired. LVNs must complete the training requirement, as this training differs from vocational nurses' training. According to Job Corps, the training for pharmacy technicians emphasizes providing good customer service, checking prescriptions for completeness, maintaining inventory and communicating with other pharmacy personnel.