If you want to build a career in healthcare, and the pharmaceutical side of this sector looks interesting to you, then training to become a certified pharmacy technician is an attractive entry point.

Here’s a look at what this role involves and how you can go about earning the certification you need to get a head start.

Pharmacy technician responsibilities unpicked

As you might expect, pharmacy technicians spend much of their time dealing with the administrative side of patient care.

From sorting out the medicines that flow through pharmacies in large volumes each day to helping patients understand how to use the prescriptions they receive, technicians play a vital part in keeping the wheels of healthcare turning.

As well as the organisational and customer-facing aspects of the job, you will also be involved in processing health insurance claims and payments, as well as keeping patient records up to date.

Finding the right training programs

You have a couple of options when working towards becoming a certified pharmacy technician. You could either take a course at a brick and mortar teaching facility, or you could make use of the online pharmacy technician programs, which are increasingly popular as a way to learn the ropes and get qualified remotely.

It’s worth noting that not every state has the same laws regarding pharmacy worker certification. In all but a handful of places, you will need to be licensed and registered, while nationally recognised certification is needed in more than 20 states.

Taking the exam

Regardless of the type of training you opt for, the end goal for those looking to become certified pharmacy technicians will be to pass the exam set by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

This exam will cover all that you have learned as part of your training program and has to be scheduled in line with the PTCB’s officially organised periods of testing.

As mentioned, certification may not be mandatory in the region you wish to work. Still, if you want to have flexibility in terms of employment and also to stand out to prospective employers, it is definitely worth achieving.

It’s also important to note that you might be eligible to take the exam if you have built up enough on-the-job experience working in a pharmacy under the tutelage of an experienced technician or a full-blown pharmacist. If in doubt, contact the PTCB to determine what applies in your specific situation.

The exam itself is 2 hours long, and there is a fee payable to the PTCB, which at the time of writing is $129. Because of this fee, it is wise to only take the exam when you are in a strong position to pass it.

The benefits of being a certified pharmacy technician

Once you have earned your certification as a pharmacy technician, there are a number of advantages that come with following this career path.

First, the job security is second to none, as healthcare jobs are growing quickly, and there is demand for pharmacy technicians virtually everywhere.

Then there’s the salary, which can range between $25k and $50k annually, with the median being around $35k according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Next, there’s the long-term prospects for a career in this field, which can include moving up the ladder to more senior roles within a pharmacy setting or elsewhere in healthcare.

Finally, there’s the satisfaction that comes from doing a job that provides a positive impact for the people that use the services you deliver to them. For a lot of pharmacy technicians, this is the main motivator for choosing this career.