The Educational Path to Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

A pharmacy technician is a healthcare worker. Such a technician assists a licensed pharmacist in performing various duties such as labeling medicine bottles, helping patients, filling prescriptions, instructing patients on how to use the medicines, etc. A pharmacy tech in the United States needs to be certified to be able to practice. The certification is also helpful in that it helps the technician gain a sound understanding of the responsibilities that the job entails. The certification also places the individual in an advantageous position as far as the career graph and salary are concerned. This article provides some primary information on pharmacy technician requirements: prerequisites for enrolling into a course, elements of the course, etc.

The basic criteria that a pharmacy tech aspirant must satisfy to enroll into a course are as follows:The applicant must be at least 18 years of age.The candidate should have a high-school diploma, GED, or equivalent qualification if from outside the United States.The candidate should be clear of any criminal record from five years prior to the date of application. The application will be rejected in case the aspirant has ever been convicted in a case of drug-related felony.

It is a good idea to enroll for the certification course in an institution that has a good reputation within the industry and is well-respected in terms of the contents of the course. Ensure that the accreditation is valid and you are aware of the length of the certification program. For those with an already busy schedule, online pharmacy technician courses are available.

The courses usually include subjects related to pharmaceuticals: terminology; record-keeping; calculations; etc., medical studies, computer skills and customer service. A majority of the popular certification programs extend from six months to a year. The skills required to run a pharmacy, pharmaceutical procedures and awareness, and knowledge in handing out correct drug dosages, etc., are taught in the course. Some of the pharmacy technician training programs also offer internships in real pharmacies for hands-on experience. The internships are designed to help the candidate gain confidence and adapt to the real world situations quickly. The courses also help the student to prepare for the certification examinations conducted by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and Institute of Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT).

The standard requirements for certification and licensing also depend on the state in which the candidate decides to work in. There are certain industrial sectors where the need for pharmacy technician certification is imperative. A pharmacy technician is also expected to have completed at least 10 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain the validity of the certification. Out of these 10 hours, at least one hour is required to be spent for the subject of pharmaceutical law. Whereas some states do not have certification requirements, voluntary certification is available for candidates through ICPT and PCTB. In case the candidate is already employed, some employers also reimburse the cost of the examinations.

On certification, pharmacy techs can procure a job in a hospital, a health care institution, or a retail setting. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a faster than average growth of the employment prospects of pharmacy technicians. The employment for these professionals is expected to rise as much as 31% between the years 2008 and 2018. More technicians are required in view of the increasing numbers of the elderly and increased used of prescription drugs by people. There is also a predicted increase in the span of duties performed by the pharmacy technicians.

Earnings are variable. Techs that are employed in hospitals and other specialized locations earn more than those who are employed in retail or a health care setting. A pharmacy technician employed in a good hospital earns about $13 an hour. In a health care facility, the technician would earn $10.50 per hour as wages.

Certification means a higher pay and a certificate can put the candidate in the right spot to move ahead in the career than a non-certified candidate. The pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors are seeing a fast growth and jobs are becoming increasingly competitive. Some techs with sufficient experience return back to school to go on and qualify as licensed pharmacists. Therefore, it pays to fulfill the standard requirements to take advantage of the employment positions that are available.

2 Factors to Help You Become a Successful Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technician is a career in the health care industry that requires the individual to have an interest in medicine with a detail-oriented mindset plus great communication skills. This career involves working under the strict supervision of licensed pharmacists and working alongside pharmacy aides. Professionals working in this category are versatile as they are required to carry out administrative duties and other responsibilities needed to ensure that their patients receive the right health care that they deserve. But a big part of their job is to validate the accuracy of prescriptions. In terms of the work environment, this profession can be seen in a variety of pharmacy environments, including pharmaceutical companies and retail settings.

Formal training for this occupation

There is no formal training requirement to become a pharmacy technician. However, you will increase your chances of being hired if you undergo a training program for this occupation. Training programs can help you familiarize with your jobs and duties of this occupation. You will learn the different practices and terminologies being used in this career. After completing these programs, you will receive a certificate, diploma or an associate’s degree.

Pharmacy technician training programs include taking courses in pharmaceutical mathematics, pharmacology and pharmacy law. You will learn how to properly label prescription containers. Learning will also involve hands-on training, which will be conducted in a live pharmacy setting. This is to help you apply what you have learned from the program.

In order to work in this profession, you will need to register with the state’s board of pharmacy. But before you can do so, you have to be a holder of a high school diploma. Plus, you will need to pay an application fee to qualify for registration. Some states require individuals who want to work in this field to be nationally certified.

Certification for pharmacy technicians

You may or may not choose to get certification, which is a voluntary process. However, certification demonstrates that you are committed to this job. It is also a representation of your professional aptitude towards your employers. Certification can be obtained through various professional organizations related to this field. If you want to earn the Certified Pharmacy Technician designation, you may take the certification examination administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. After passing it, you will need to re-certify every two years by completing 20 continuing education credits.

Within the 2-year certification period, you should complete a 20-hour continuing education program. One hour of it should be devoted to pharmacy law. Continuing education can be obtained from various colleges, pharmacy associations and training programs.

This profession offers some great benefits. But there are things that you should do to succeed in this career. Thankfully, you can easily complete them with undergoing intensive or long-term training.

Earn a Competitive Pharmacy Technician Salary With Proper Education

Today’s healthcare industry is growing fast, and is estimated to increase by up to 25 percent or more in the next 5 to 10 years.

For certain service-oriented positions including that of the pharmacy technician or `PT`, this means thousands of new jobs available each year, making the profession one of the more stable positions that does not require a college degree.

Salary is competitive as well; looking into becoming a pharmacy technician could be a lucrative decision for a detail-oriented person considering a career in healthcare.

Pharmacy Technician Salary Range

A pharmacy technician’s salary will vary depending on a number of factors such as education and prior experience. Although in many places it is possible to secure a position as a PT without having a college education or formal specialty training, those jobs tend to be much lower in salary.

In the US and Canada, non-schooled pharmacy technicians in retail settings generally earn a basic hourly rate that starts anywhere from minimum wage to slightly higher and increases as experience is gained. Most of the entry-level jobs that require no formal education are in retail settings, which pay the least across the board.

Advancing from there, positions for schooled individuals that either have a college degree or have graduated a diploma program for pharmacy technicians and have earned their CPhT (Certified Pharmacy Technician) increase substantially.

While there are still many lower-paying retail locations, having the CPhT opens many higher-paying employment opportunities, whether in more advanced positions in a retail pharmacy or in hospital, outpatient and inpatient positions.

In the US and Canada, most recent job data for a CPhT shows salary ranges from $20,000 USD per year to start, up to as much as $40,000 USD annually after a few years in the profession.

Noted real averages seem to be between $23,000 and $36,000 annually for a typical CPhT position. Higher paid positions are usually out of retail settings, with military-run facilities paying the most.

In the UK, individuals are required to obtain certain levels of schooling in order to secure a position as a pharmacy technician, which differs greatly from a pharmacy dispenser.

Pay rates usually coincide with AfC Pay Bands depending on the schooling and experience someone has. Non-specialized technicians with qualifications earn between £16,000 and £20,000 annually, while higher-rated positions and those with more years experience earn as high as £37,000 annually.

As with rates in the US and Canada, pay rates are higher out of the retail setting and highest for jobs paid by the military. Pharmacy dispensers typically start lower than the base pharmacy technician rate and increase from there.

How to Earn a Good Pharmacy Technician Salary

As with most jobs in the healthcare industry, salary is dependent on schooling and experience. It is usually possible for someone with no schooling to gain the necessary experience and work his or her way up to higher salaries, but this is the long route to higher pay.

For those able to put the time into 12 to 24 months of schooling and externship, or to continue their basic education to take more specialized training, they will not only have a higher starting pay in most cases, but will also have more job opportunities, whether in retail or hospital settings.

Of the many courses and training programs available to those wishing to become a PT, be aware of the differences in terms of qualifications after completion and how that will affect salary.

Certificate courses and the equivalent offer no real qualifications and provide only a basic overview of the job. Diploma courses, College degrees and specialized educational training courses in the UK provide the appropriate certifications to obtain a position as a PT where someone can perform to the full capacity of the job. These, naturally, are the jobs that will pay more from the start and offer the greatest salary potential.

Regardless of how someone enters the field, a position as a pharmacy technician can be an interesting and pleasing career in service-oriented healthcare. It is definitely a recommendation to obtain the necessary education ahead of time though, or to continue education in order to earn the higher certifications the field offers.

Even if in some situations starting salary are similar, having the qualifications to fill any type of position in the field without being limited to retail or basic positions is well worth it, both professionally and financially.

In order to find out more about best educational programs to earn the best pharmacy technician salary, contact your local pharmacy technicians professional association or pharmacy education association such as the AAPA or PTCA in the US, the CAPT in Canada and the GPC in the UK. These organizations can help anyone get on the right track to a rewarding and great-paying career as a pharmacy technician

Benefits of Getting a Pharmacy Technician Certification

As with many healthcare industry professions, becoming a pharmacy technician offers a lot of opportunity for many different people, regardless of educational background.

It is possible for the right person to simply apply for a job at a retail pharmacy and receive on the job in some places. However, there is no denying the fact that qualified techs stand to hold the best positions and earn the most money.

Taking the time to learn the details of the profession and earning a pharmacy technician certification will always make the best jobs available for anyone looking to get into the healthcare services industry.

How to Get a Pharmacy Technician Certificate

Though the process differs slightly between the US, the UK and other countries, it is basically the same. In most cases, in order to become certified (CPhT in the US and GPhC Registered UK), individuals must pass required educational programs and have a certain amount of professional training or externship training.

In the US, 1- and 2 year pharmacy technician programs that prepare students to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam are the most popular, although some students who prefer may take a 2-year college Associates’ Degree with emphasis on a career.

In order to earn the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician, students must pass their educational training and participate in the required externships, then pass the certification exam.

Individuals who have one year or more of experience in the field may also take the exam in an effort to become certified, but it is recommended that students have attended a preparatory program for their best chances at becoming certified.

What Are Certificate Programs?

Shorter, “certificate” programs (which should not be confused with certification programs, since they are very different) that typically last 2- to 3 months provide a certificate of attendance, but do not include or prepare for taking the certification exam.

These vocational programs generally offer only an overview of the profession and though they can help individuals secure jobs in retail pharmacy locations, they generally do not offer the benefits of more extensive, better-paying jobs outside of a retail environment.

In the UK, it is a legality that individuals, which involves individuals possessing certain educational requirements. In order to register with the GPhC, pharmacy technicians must obtain either a 3 Level 3 qualifications. All of these qualifications are available through various educational programs which will prepare students for obtaining their certificates and qualifications.

In the UK, and in many other countries throughout Europe and the rest of the world, non-certified individuals may not work in the pharmacy field, though some areas do permit the title of Pharmacy Dispenser to non-qualified persons.

Jobs and Salaries with a Pharmacy Technician Certificate

Whether in the US, the UK or elsewhere, it stands to reason that the most qualified individuals will have access to the best jobs.

Most basic pharmacy technician jobs that are available to certified and uncertified persons are in the retail pharmacy setting, which are also the lowest paying. These positions usually include basic retail work besides working in the pharmacy, since they are generally not specialized positions.

Additionally, jobs offered by the military tend to pay the highest, but usually require the most certifications in order to be considered for hire. Salary ranges usually begin at minimum state wage and increase depending on region and experience, with salary ranges starting around $20,000.

CPhTs can earn up to $40,000 or more per year, either in a more advanced retail position or in another, more specialized position such as hospital, inpatient, outpatient or compounding UK, certified, advanced level positions earn as much as £37,000 per year, with ranges beginning between £16,000 and £20,000, the lower rate for that of the Pharmacy Dispenser.

Though it may not be for everyone, obtaining the required pharmacy technician certification or other equivalent certifications is highly recommended. Doing so keeps the door to better employment opportunities open. Pharmacy technicians who have their CPhT or are GPhC registered will also have the most interesting, challenging and rewarding positions throughout their career.

Finding a Suitable Pharmacy Loan for Your Needs

Are you a recent graduate, associate or even a seasoned pharmacist looking to buy a suitable pharmacy that meets your needs? Do you need finance for it? Then a pharmacy loan, if structured correctly can meet your needs.

A pharmacy loan will assist you when you are looking to:

>> Buy your start-up pharmacy practice;

>> Acquire another pharmacy practice;

>> Expand or remodel your existing pharmacy practice;

>> Purchase equipment for your pharmacy practice, including fit outs; or

>> Refinance your existing pharmacy loan.

Your Pharmacy Loan Checklist – Here is a brief list of things you should consider when you are looking for a suitable loan to meet your needs:

1. Create a Suitable Due Diligence/Business Plan and Budget

As with any large financial decision you will make, it is extremely important that you work out your budget. You should look at your overall financial position, before you start seeking finance and this means:

>> Establishing a suitable due diligence/business plan;

>> Establishing a suitable budget, whereby you prepare a list of all your assets as well as your expenses and out-goings. You can do this by using a Budget Planner calculator; and

>> Calculating how much you may be able to borrow by using a Borrowing Power calculator.

2. Arrange for Pre-Approved Pharmacy Loan

You should arrange for pre-approved pharmacy loan as it will give you the peace of mind knowing that:

>> You will have the upper hand when negotiating the sale price of the pharmacy practice with the vendor, real estate agent, etc.

>> You will have a clear picture of what the affordability and borrowing limits are;

>> Your loan request has already been pre-approved by the lender/credit provider; and

>> You will know the conditions of your pre-approval.

3. Understanding the Features and Benefits of a Pharmacy Loan

There are many features and benefits that you need to consider when looking at a loan, these include:

>> The amount of loan you require to finance the development of a new pharmacy or the purchase of an existing pharmacy location, etc;

>> The term of the loan required;

>> Structure of the loan (i.e. Fixed/Variable/Interest Only);

>> Interest rate;

>> Provision for redraw facility; and

>> Early repayment provisions (i.e. exit strategy).

Seek Expert and Professional Advice

Your needs as a pharmacist are unique and can at times be complex. But, you must not worry about obtaining a pharmacy loan. You can seek the support of a dedicated and professionally qualified finance broker who specialises in providing assistance to pharmacists seeking a loan. He/she will understand your situation and help you in obtaining a suitable loan.