A Pharmacy Technician is an individual who has done the training and has gained Pharmacy Technician Certification by writing and passing the pharmacy technician test. A pharmacy technician works under a pharmacist and it is his or her duty to perform a range of tasks for the pharmacist. The tasks which are performed by the Pharmacy Technician are almost identical to those a pharmacist does, except that they are done under the direct supervision of the pharmacist.
The certified pharmacy technician is often-times more up to date on the latest pharmaceuticals than the pharmacist is, and they perform a vital service to patients, pharmacists, hospitals and doctors via the wide range of tasks that they perform.
Duties Of The Pharmacy Technician
A pharmacy technician’s primary function is to receive and fill prescriptions from physicians, nurses, hospitals or directly from the patient. They work under the supervision of a pharmacist.
The duties carried out by pharmacy technicians can include:
- Filling and dispensing of prescriptions for patients.
- Compounding of the prescription as per a physician’s directions, which includes the counting, measuring, weighing, and pouring of medications and tablets.
- Creating prescription labels for the medication being dispensed.
- Administrative duties such as keeping the database updated, and handling insurance enquiries.
- The pharmacy technician also takes an inventory of over-the-counter medications and places orders when necessary.
- Performing cash-register transactions in a retail pharmacy and taking phone-calls also forms part of a pharmacy technician’s tasks.
In order to become a pharmacy technician one needs to do a course at an established pharmacy technician school. There are many online and campus-based schools which provide a variety of courses, and it is your choice as to which school you go to, whether you decide to study on-campus or do a part-time pharmacy technician online course while you continue to work at your normal job.
Pharmacy Technician Workplace
A pharmacy technician can work in various health-related workplaces and spend most of their day on their feet. The environment in which they work is sterilised, clean and tidy.
They practise in workplaces such as:
- Assisted-living Facilities
- Health and Personal-care Stores
- Medical Stores
- Nursing Homes
- Retail and Mail-order Pharmacies
Pharmacy technicians do not always work a 9-5 job. They can work part-time or full-time. Depending on where they work they could either do day or night-shift and may also be required to work on weekends.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Pharmacy technician degrees are associate-level degrees. Many pharmacy technician schools also offer diplomas and certificate courses. Your choice of course will depend on the level of education which you intend to follow, and this can impact greatly on your future, where you get employed and what your earning will be, so it is important that you do some research and have all the details at your fingertips before making such an important decision.
Pharmacy Technician Qualifications
Pharmacy Technician Certificate
- The only requirement to enter this program is a high school diploma.
- Can generally be completed in less than 12 months.
- This course provides the basic fundamental skill required by a pharmacy technician.
- Aimed at pharmacy technicians who work in retail or clinical environments.
- This course also prepares graduates to take the Pharmacy Technician Test.
Pharmacy Technician Diploma
- A previous degree in the medical field is required to enter the program.
- The duration of this program is approximately 12 months.
- The aim of the course is to add supplementary, skill-based education to the basic knowledge gained on a previous degree course.
- Although a medical background is not necessary, many individuals who have previously obtained associate degrees in related fields of study pursue a course as a pharmacy technician.
- This program prepares graduates for the Pharmacy Technician Certification exam.
Pharmacy Technician Associate’s Degree
- A previous degree in the medical field is required to enter into this program.
- The program usually takes approximately 24 months to complete.
- The associate degree program provides a more in-depth education than a diploma or certificate program.
- Apart from the focused training in pharmacy practises, the course also provides a wide range of other training in the general medical field.
- This program makes use of clinical externships in a hospital or retail pharmacy setting to provide on-the-job experience. These externships are done under the direct supervision of a manager or pharmacist who will report back to the school, and this will form part of the final grade points.
- The program prepares its graduates to take the Pharmacy Technician Exam.
Pharmacy Technician Certification
It is not compulsory to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification exam in all states, but it certainly does help an individual to gain employment, as it assures the prospective employer that you conform to national standards for pharmacy technician knowledge. In order to find out whether the state in which you intend working requires certification or not you should do some research.
The Pharmacy Technician Exam is given by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The pharmacy technician test given by both organisations is very similar and both are accepted as a benchmark of quality pharmacy technician training and certification of the nationally accepted knowledge necessary to perform the duties of a pharmacy technician.
The PTCB Pharmacy Technician Test
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Pharmacy Technician Certification, known as CPhT, is awarded to pharmacy technicians who meet the strict background and educational requirements as laid out by the PTCB, and have passed the Pharmacy Technician Exam.
Requirements to take the PTCE:
- The Pharmacy technician must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
- The Pharmacy technician may not have any felony convictions.
- The Pharmacy technician may not have any pharmacy or drug-related convictions.
- There must be no restriction of registration or licensure, or regulations misconduct.
Re-certification of the CPhT is required every two years and this can be done by gaining twenty hours of continuing education in that time period.
The ICPT Pharmacy Technician Exam
The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians proffers the CPhT Pharmacy Technician Certification to those who take the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT).
Requirements to take the ExCPT:
- You must be 18 years or older
- You must be in possession of a high school degree or your GED.
- You may not have been convicted of any type of felony.
The CPhT certification must be renewed every 2 years. In order to renew your CPhT certification you need to have completed at least 20 hours of continuing education and this must include a minimum of 1 hour of pharmacy law.
How To Get Your Pharmacy Technician Certification
Getting certified by either the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board is one of the easiest things to do. All you need to do is to contact one of the above certification boards and request to take the Pharmacy Technician Exam. Most states offer the exam, which consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, 4 times per year. There is no limit on how many times you can take the exam in order to pass.
Pharmacy Technician Practice Test:
PTCB offers a set of practice exams which can be taken in order to prepare for the Pharmacy Technician Certification exam. The purpose of a Pharmacy Technician Practice Test is to familiarize yourself with the structure, content and format of the Pharmacy Technician Exam, and can give an indication of whether you are sufficiently prepared for the official PTCE.
The practice exams that are available are:
- The Official PTCB Practice Exam
- The Official PTCB Practice Calculations Exam
- The Official PTCB Practice Medication Usage and Administration Exam
You can purchase a Practice Test from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. These are online pharmacy technician tests which have been developed by subject-experts.
The Official PTCB Practice Test meets the exact same exam blueprint specifications as the Pharmacy Technician Certification exam. An overall scaled score, which includes a subtest scaled score for each of the function areas, will be given to the candidates on completion of the test. The Practice Test covers the three areas of a pharmacy technician’s scope of duties; Assisting the Pharmacist in Serving Patients, Participating in the Administration and Management of Pharmacy Practice, and Maintaining Medication and Inventory Control Systems.
Candidates have sixty minutes in which to complete the exam and review their answers. Those who fail the PTCE may rewrite the examination three times. There needs to be a break of 60 days between the first two retakes, and a period of six months before the third rewrite. After three times the candidate must submit an appeal to the PTCB; the appeals will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Although Pharmacy Technician Certification is not required buy all states, it is in your best interest to take the pharmacy technician test because this will prove to the pharmacist that you are serious about your chosen career and that you comply with the strict national requirements for pharmacy technicians. This will give the pharmacist the assurance that you are able to offer safe and effective patient care and service. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Pharmacy Technician Certification is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.