A pharmacy technician can make $31,750 a year without having to attend any college or secondary schooling.
Not only is this a good starting job, but it can also help you get your foot in the door without having to go through years of schooling.
This career is also expected to expand, and there is a 12% growth expected by 2026.
These jobs keep growing because pharmacies keep getting busier. The CDC claims that prescription drug use has become more prevalent in the last 40 years, which means that pharmacies need more employees to keep up with demands.
Want a great job in the medical industry that doesn’t involve years of schooling? Check out this complete guide on how to become a pharmacy technician.
What is a Pharmacy Technician?
Maybe you have no idea what a pharmacy technician is or what they do, but you’re still interested in working in a pharmacy to avoid all the secondary education. (You do still need a high school diploma or an equivalent).
The role of the technician is important in any pharmacy.
Pharmacy technicians help work under the pharmacist and dispense medications. Some of their jobs may include:
- Fill prescriptions
- Count medications
- Measure medications
- Weigh medications
- Pour medications
- Mix medications
- Help customers
- Prepare labels and bottles
- Fill out insurance claim forms
- Maintain patient information
- Stock inventory
How to Become a Pharmacy Technician
If that sounds interesting to you or if you were already interested in pursuing this career path, you may be wondering how to get that job.
While you will have to go through a background check and have a high school degree or GED, if you don’t need to go to school, then how do you know what you’re doing?
Here’s what you need to know.
A pharmacy technician is a job where you will most likely learn how to do it while you’re at the job rather than going to school for it.
Some technicians do get their associate’s or get certifications, but in some places it’s not required.
In some states, like Hawaii, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York, don’t make it necessary to have you register with them to work as a pharmacy technician. In other states, you do have to register with the state’s Board of Health, but even then you don’t have to take any extra training.
The only difference is that registering with the board can cost you an application fee which is anywhere from $25 to $150. You will also need to prove your identity, prove you have a high school degree, and also submit to a background check.
This means that all you have to do is apply for the job, get hired, and then you can just start working.
You will receive on-the-job training with the pharmacist, but schooling can be optional and mainly up to you and what you want from it.
The type of training you will receive at the job can vary.
Most likely, you will start by observing and shadowing the pharmacist for a few days so that you can get familiar with the pharmacy, the job, and how it all works.
Once that phase is over, you will start performing some of your own tasks while the pharmacist pays close attention to ensure you’re doing it correctly.
Once it seems like you know what you’re doing and the supervisor trusts you, then you will be able to start working more independently.
If you have had no training before this job, then these phases may take a long time. You could be in training for at least six months and maybe even longer. You will still have a lot to learn at this job.
You may receive different types of training depending on which pharmacy you work for. A private pharmacy will offer less formal training, whereas a larger retail pharmacy may offer a training program. This could consist of on-the-job training as long as classroom training and assistance in being certified.
If you want some more information and training before you actually start the job, you can always look for classes or buy some books and read up on the information. There are also other websites that can help you learn more about your future career. Sometimes there are even internships that you can sign up for.
While there is no formal schooling to become a pharmacy technician, you may need to get a certification to do your job.
Whether you need certifications or not are dependent on your job and which state you live in. Having a certification may make you more appealing to potential employers, so that is important to consider.
A certificate can take about four months to a year to complete, whereas an optional associate’s degree can be two years of full-time school. It depends on which one you decide to get.
There are different ones that you can get as well.
To find valid certificates, you can go through either the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). These two organizations both offer the Certified Pharmacy Technician certification if you want to take that one.
In order to qualify for that certification through the PTCB, certificate seekers will have to pass an exam. The NHA has applicants take a training program if they don’t have at least a year of experience as a pharmacy technician.
A training program could include classes on and learning stuff about things like:
- Pharmacy math
- Customer service
- Laboratory skills
- Pharmacy computer applications
Both of these boards and organizations require at least a high school diploma or GED to qualify for the certifications.
The PTCB stated that starting in 2020, they will have to make the prospective technicians complete an accredited program to be eligible for the certification.
This certifications lasts for two years, and then you will need to renew it by passing a re-certification exam.
You can apply for certification online and take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam for $129 with the PTCB.
Because you may not have any training or knowledge of what it takes to be a pharmacy technician, you will need to show that you have other skills that prove you could be at the job.
You will need skills like:
- Quick learning
- Willing to learn
- Good customer service
- Ability to organization
- Attention to detail
- Good at listening
- Ability to do basic math
- Good communication
- Knowledge about HIPPA compliance
- Retail experience
- Time management
These skills will help show an employer that while you may not have the formal training or knowledge of the job, you have the potential in you.
Finding a Job
So you know how to become a pharmacy technician. You know about the training, certification, and skills you need. But now how do you actually find a job as a pharmacy technician?
If you have no formal training, finding a job may be a little more difficult, but it’s not impossible.
Because you don’t have the knowledge for the job, you will need to show your potential employer that you have the skills to do the job and also learn how to do it.
Without those skills, an employer will be hesitant to hire you because they know that they will have to spend their time and money training and teaching you. It’s up to you to convince the manager that you are worthy of being trained.
To help you with that, show that you are willing to stay with a company long-term, because this will make them more likely to invest in you.
Make sure that you tailor your resume to show that you have qualities like attention to detail, a willingness to learn, and a loyalty to your company.
In the interview, you may have to answer questions like:
- What does your schedule look like?
- Are you good at organizing?
- How would you deal with an unhappy patient?
- What interests you about being a pharmacy technician?
- Why are you applying for this job?
- Do you have any previous training or certifications?
- What is your highest level of education?
If you are able to answer these questions and have an awesome interview, your employer may be more willing to hire you and take a chance with you.
Start on Your Path of Becoming a Pharmacy Technician
The biggest takeaway that you should know from this article on how to become a pharmacy technician is that it is completely possible to be hired as a pharmacy technician without any prior training or education.
But you will need some kind of training, which you will most likely receive while at your job.
Are you interested in skipping a path that requires a lot of schooling and just want to start working in a pharmacy now? If you have any more questions about how to become a pharmacy technician or how to find extra training before you start searching for a job, make sure to check out our other health care and medical education articles.