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How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Becoming a pharmacy technician usually requires earning a high school diploma or the equivalent. Other requirements vary by state, with some states requiring passing an exam or completing a formal training program.

Education and Training

Many pharmacy technicians learn how to perform their duties through on-the-job training. Others attend postsecondary education programs in pharmacy technology at vocational schools or community colleges, which award certificates. These programs typically last 1 year or less and cover a variety of subjects, such as arithmetic used in pharmacies, recordkeeping, ways of dispensing medications, and pharmacy law and ethics. Technicians also learn the names, actions, uses, and doses of medications. Many training programs include internships, in which students get hands-on experience in a pharmacy.

Licenses and Certification

Most states regulate pharmacy technicians in some way. Consult your state’s Board of Pharmacy for its particular regulations. Requirements for pharmacy technicians typically include some or all of the following:

Some states and employers require pharmacy technicians to have certification. Even where it is not required, certification may make it easier to get a job. Many employers will pay for their pharmacy technicians to take the certification exam.

Two organizations offer certification: The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Important Qualities

Customer service skills. Pharmacy technicians spend much of their time interacting with customers, so being helpful and polite are required of pharmacy technicians in a retail setting.

Detail oriented. Serious health problems can result from mistakes in filling prescriptions. Although the pharmacist is responsible for ensuring the safety of all medications dispensed, pharmacy technicians should be detail oriented so complications are avoided.

Organizational skills. Working as a pharmacy technician involves balancing a variety of responsibilities. Pharmacy technicians need good organizational skills to complete the work delegated by pharmacists while satisfying customers or patients.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition