Pharmacy Technician Certification

pharmacy-technician-certificationA pharmacy technician is a healthcare provider who works closely with a pharmacist to complete pharmacy-related tasks. Most pharmacy techs will report directly to a licensed pharmacist.

As a result of a pharmacist shortage, the value of a certified pharmacy technician has increased in the healthcare field. This shortage has lead to an increase of job responsibilities, earning potential and employment need for pharmacy technicians. The benefits of completing a pharmacy technician certification can help your marketability with employers. Often employers will prefer candidates who are certified with the local or national pharmacy board.  Those new to the pharmacy field can expect to need practical training or an internship at a pharmacy to meet hiring requirements.

What is certification?

Becoming a certified pharmacy technician is not required for most positions. However, it will provide significant merit and allow you to apply for jobs that would prefer certified candidates. Certification means that the Technician has a high school diploma or GED, and has passed the ExCPT exam.

Two organizations provide certification; Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and National Healthcareer Association (NHA). The main difference between the certification from PTCB and the NHA is PTCB certification requires only a high school diploma and a passing score on the ExCPT exam. The NHA requires applicants to be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, have completed a training program or have one year of work experience and pass the ExCPT exam. Once the tech is certified, they must meet continuing education requirements every two years to maintain certification.

Who needs certification?

Some states and employers mandate that all pharmacy technicians are certified. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia regulate pharmaceutical technicians. You should always check with your state board to see if you live in an area that requires certification. If you happen to live in a state that does not require certification, it would be to your benefit to get certified regardless. Compared to non-certified technicians, CPhT’s report higher salaries and faster promotional opportunities to the BLS. Certification often ensures a more competent candidate often improving your chances of getting hired.

Skills and Abilities

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024. Employment growth for pharmacy techs is faster than the average for all occupation, due in part to an increase in chronic illnesses such as diabetes, an aging population and increased health insurance participants. As a result, pharmacies are seeing a demand for prescription medications.

In recent years, vaccinations provided by a pharmacist instead of the doctor have been on the incline. Often pharmacy technicians will be asked to carry out a greater part in store management.

The BLS reports the median annual wage for pharmacy technicians was $29,810 in May 2014, and since many pharmacies are now open 24 hours a day seven days a week, there is an increased need for technicians willing to work nights and weekends. Most job posting will request applicants that meet the following job skills:

Listening Skills: Pharmacy technicians communicate daily with pharmacists, patients, and other healthcare providers.  It is imperative that technician listens carefully and understand customers’ as well as healthcare provider’s needs.

Customer Service: Pharmacy technicians will regularly interact with patrons. It is important that a technician’s aim is to be helpful and well-mannered to assist in the understanding and disbursement of prescriptions and medical devices.

Math Skills: Pharmacy technicians will need to understand basic math concepts to ensure accurate pill counts and proper medications mixing.

Detail Oriented: Serious health implications can result from mistakes in filling prescriptions. Pharmacy technicians should be educated and pay attention to detail to aid in contraindications or life-threatening mistakes.

Organizational Skills: Some times of the year will be much busier than other. It is important that a pharmacy tech can juggle the many responsibilities they are required to be a reliable and competent tech.

How does a program prepare you for certification?

The accrediting party for pharmacy technician programs is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). ASHP certified programs are available through many colleges and professional training schools. On average, a certificate programs can be completed within nine months to a year. Some student will choose to pursue an associate’s degree if their educational goals later include a bachelor’s degree.

Coursework often provides applicable and technical instruction in the following subjects:

  • Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical law, and ethics
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Healthcare systems
  • Drug calculations
  • Healthcare Terminology

Relevant and Applicable Job Training

Most programs will provide technicians the opportunity to gain job-specific clinical experience. While researching programs be sure to ask what job training they provide such as; clinicals and internships. Clinical experience will vary from one program to the next. Schools may have partnerships with a retailer or hospital to provide internships of clinical experience. A student may also search job positions like indeed or LinkedIn for possible internships to gain hands-on experience.

Maintaining Certification

Every two years certified pharmacy technicians are required to apply for recertification. Technicians will provide documentation of 20 hours of continuing education and pass the recertification exam.

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