How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Interested in learning how to become a pharmacy tech? You’re in the right place! Pharmacy technicians are vital to a pharmacy’s operation, and by following the proper steps in the pharmacy technician career path, from education to training to specializations, you can soon be on your way to this dynamic and exciting career.

Below, Soliant experts break down everything you need to know about pharmacy technicians, how to become one and the requirements and skills needed for the role.

What Does a Pharmacy Tech Do?

Pharmacy technicians work under a licensed pharmacist and make sure everything runs smoothly in day-to-day pharmacy operations. Pharmacy techs can choose to work in various settings, including hospitals, retail pharmacies and more.

The most critical duty of a pharmacy technician is to support the pharmacist to ensure the well-being of patients. In addition to the technical responsibilities, the role of pharmacy techs involved frequent customer service and customer-facing responsibilities.

Pharmacy Technician Job Description

The primary job duties of pharmacy technicians revolve around supporting pharmacological services, with responsibilities ranging from stocking to managing distribution and assembling medications. Additionally, pharmacy techs are crucial in maintaining a safe and clean environment.

Preparing reports is another vital task that pharmacy technicians do, as these reports ensure streamlined operations in the pharmacy. Pharmacy techs maintain records as they fill prescriptions in addition to serving a financial role, calculating revenue, recording, and issuing charges.

Pharmacy Technician Career Path

Interested in learning how to become a pharmacy technician? The pharmacy technician career path you will take will depend on the state you want to work in. For example, some states require only a high school diploma, while others have candidates go through a pharmacy technician training program.

However, below are the general pharmacy tech career path steps you will need to take to become a pharmacy technician:

  1. High School Diploma: At a minimum, pharmacy technicians usually need a high school diploma or equivalent.
  2. Optional Postsecondary Education: While many pharmacy techs typically learn their duties through on-the-job training, they may complete a postsecondary education program in pharmacy technology.
  3. Exam: Because most states regulate pharmacy technicians, it is generally required that pharmacy techs complete a certification exam or program before working. Many states require pharmacy techs to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification test to be employed as certified pharmacy technicians (CPhT).

Pharmacy Technician Education Requirements

As far as education requirements, pharmacy techs are required to complete a few programs prior to working as well as continuing education programs as their careers progress.

To start, pharmacy techs are required to complete a pharmacy technician training program, which takes about a year. Next, pharmacy techs should be certified through the American Society Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), in addition to being approved by national and regional certification bodies. Finally, pharmacy techs need to maintain active certification every two years.

Do You Need a Degree To Be a Pharmacy Tech?

No, you do not need a degree to be a pharmacy tech. Pharmacy technicians usually only need a high school diploma or an equivalent level of education. Pharmacy techs typically learn their duties through on-the-job training; however, a postsecondary program in a related field is sometimes preferred.

Where Can Pharmacy Technicians Work?

One exciting aspect of this career is that there are so many different types of pharmacy technician jobs, meaning you can take different avenues as a pharmacy tech to find the setting that’s right for you. For example, you can work in a retail pharmacy setting, hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical production, sales, education, military, or veterinary settings. The variety is remarkable!

Below are some of the most common job settings for pharmacy technicians:

Hospital-Based Pharmacy Technicians

A common approach for pharm tech candidates is working in a hospital. Here, you will fill prescriptions for nurses and doctors, helping patients directly. You will need a firm grasp of pharmacology and medical terminology compared to other customer-facing avenues.

Retail Pharmacy Technicians

Retail pharmacy technicians have many responsibilities in a bustling environment. Besides filling prescriptions, they work the cash register, sell medicines and other pharmacy goods, and process insurance claims.

Mail-Order Pharmacy Technicians

Mail-order pharmacy technicians perform unique duties. They scrutinize and scan patient profiles for accuracy and check prescriptions for any errors. They also fill prescriptions and refills and complete mail orders every day, ensuring patients receive their medications promptly.

Pharmacy Tech Skills

As your career unfolds, you will develop specific skills that benefit your path. In addition to an attention to detail, the ability to handle high-pressure situations, organization skills, and strong customer service skills, you will need to have the following skills to become a pharmacy technician:

  • Communication: Whether you are in customer service or interacting with medical professionals, you need to communicate clearly and effectively.
  • Numeracy: You will be working with numbers no matter which setting you go with, so basic math skills are essential.
  • Organization: Pharmacies are high-paced, and you will juggle multiple responsibilities, so organization skills are vital.
  • Computer: As more information and records are digitized, you need to be computer savvy and ready to learn different applications and programs.
  • Ethics: Pharmacy technicians need to have solid ethics to deal with people’s safety, health, and confidentiality.

Pharmacy Technician Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for pharmacy technicians was $37,790 in May 2022. The top 10% of earners made more than $50,640 as a pharmacy tech.

The median annual wage for pharmacy techs who work in hospitals is $45,300. For those who work in pharmacies and drug retailers, the median annual wage is $36,360.

The top-paying states for pharmacy techs are California, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon. In these states, pharmacy techs make an annual mean wage of over $46,000.  

Final Thoughts on the Pharmacy Tech Career Path

A pharmacy technician is essential to the workplace, no matter the setting. Follow the steps outlined above on how to become a pharmacy technician, and your career will soon take off!

Looking for a pharmacy technician position? Soliant is here to find the perfect fit. Browse through our available jobs and discover your next assignment!

The right connection can make all the difference.