Is the Pharmacy Technician Career Field Right For You?

pharmacytechBy Erica Morely

Have you been thinking about a way to start a career in the healthcare profession? A great way to get your first job is as a pharmacy technician. Depending upon the state in which you live in, you may only need a high school diploma or postsecondary training in a pharmacy technology program. Such programs would have a duration of 6 months to 2 years.

What is a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy technicians are assistants to licensed pharmacists. They are also called pharmaceutical technicians or pharmacy techs. They are expected to do the following:

  • Receive and dispense medication according to a prescription.
  • Counting pills/tablets or measuring proper amounts of medication for prescriptions.
  • Labeling and packaging prescription bottles.
  • Processing claims for medical insurance
  • Performing administrative tasks, such as stocking shelves for inventory, cleaning equipment, maintaining profiles of patients and answering telephones

In this career field, you can work in many different places including store pharmacies and hospital pharmacies. They can also work in nursing homes, long-term care facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturers and third-party insurance companies.

What Should I Know Before I Decide?

Depending on where you live, regulations to become a pharmacy tech will vary. There are states that will require you to complete a secondary education program for pharmaceutical training and/or pass a certification exam.

Working Conditions

Working environments are in well-constructed, organized and clean in pharmacies and laboratories. This will help you efficiently do your job. The work schedules will depend on where you work. There are pharmacies that are open for 24 hours, like a hospital pharmacy, so you can expect to have night shifts or weekend duties.

As a pharmacy technician, you should be computer literate in order to maintain patient records, print prescription labels and perform research. It is also necessary to understand pharmaceutical and medical definitions, follow oral and written instructions precisely. You may be expected to move and lift heavy boxes of supplies as needed, and repeat tasks that require routine procedures.

How to Get Training

There are training programs that are specific for pharmaceuticals, after completing one, you will earn a certificate. These training programs last from 6 months to 2 years depending on the curriculum. The longer programs tend to have students undergo internships at pharmacies for training.

If you want to attend a formal program, make sure it is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists or other agencies.

Is Certification Required?

While it is not outright required, there will be employers who will require their pharmacy technicians to be certified. It also depends on which state you are in. Being certified will give you an immediate edge over those who have not earned the distinction when you’re applying for a job.

There are two main national organizations in the United States that offer certification:

  • National Healthcareer Association
  • Pharmacy Technician Certification Board

Formal training programs will give you what you need in order to pass the exam. Passing an exam by one of these two organizations will earn you the designation of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). Once you have earn this certification, you will have earned a special distinction that will certainly help you secure a well-paying job in a respected industry.

Careers in the healthcare field are booming! There are many ways to enter the field with low barriers – much of the time you may just need on-the-job training or short vocational training.

The Pharmacy Technician career is a great example of a job you can begin to see if working in healthcare is right for you. Find out more information about this growing and in-demand field by visiting

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