Pharmacy Technician Frequently Asked Questions Answered

In the following you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions related to the field of pharmacy technician. Whether you are an aspiring pharmacy technician or one looking for a job or already working in this field we have tried to cover all questions you might have.

1. Is this job right for me?

If you are someone who would love the challenges in a constantly changing pharmaceutical world and have an eye for precision, then this job is for you.

2. What are the prerequisites for this career?

The basic prerequisites to pursue a career as a pharmacy technician are a high school diploma or an equivalent level of education.

3. Do I need any specific skills to become a pharmacy technician?

To be a successful pharmacy technician, some of the specific skills are being a great communicator and an empathetic listener. You should be able to multi-task with high levels of accuracy and an attention to detail. You should be savvy with technology and abreast with different electronic platforms used in the pharmaceutical world today.

4. What are the daily responsibilities of a pharmacy technician?

As a pharmacy technician your duties will include, dispensing prescription or over the counter medication to patients, maintaining a stock of the inventory and keeping the pharmacy organized.

5. How long is the training of a pharmacy technician?

If you enroll for a certificate program, it will take typically around 10 months, whereas an associate degree program will take two years to complete.

6. How much will this job pay me?

According to BLS, it pays an average wage of $15.90 an hour and an average annual salary of $33,060 per year.

7. Is this career in demand?

Employment of pharmacy technicians is going to increase at 11.83% from 2016 to 2026, according to BLS which is more than the average for all other occupations. The factors responsible for this growth are primarily the ageing population, rise in chronic lifestyle diseases and the continuous increase of individuals insuring their health.

8. Will I be able to grow in this career?

Education is one way to advance a pharmacy technician's career for example certification to do pharmaceutical compounding or specializing in nuclear pharmacy to effectively handle nuclear pharmaceuticals. A pharmacy technician working for large retail stores or health care providers can advance to supervisory positions.

9. As a pharmacy technician what do I have to wear?

It is usually a uniform or a white jacket from the hospital, pharmacy or retail store, identifying you as pharmacy technician

10. What if I make a mistake in dispensing a prescribed medication?

As all regulated Pharmacy technicians are considered health care professionals, you will be held liable in case of any error. In accordance to legislation all registered techs are required to carry professional liability insurance.

11. Can pharmacy technician be a part time job?

Yes, part-time openings are available especially in retail.

12. Is it a good idea to do this course online?

It is the convenience of studying at home, which online programs offer and makes them a viable option which many would like to consider. You need to look into whether the program offers an externship. The top online programs also prepare you for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) test to help you obtain national certification which will give you more employment opportunities later on.

13. What do I expect in the certification exam?

The PTCB exam is two hours long; however you will have only 1 hour 50 mins to complete the test. It is mainly computerized, comprising of 90 questions. 10 questions are pre-test, so only 80 questions will affect your final grade.

• 13.75% of the questions comprise on how to assist the pharmacist e.g. how to an administer medications to patients, how to keep a stock of the inventory, bookkeeping, and identifying the pharmaceutical and drug supplies in the pharmacy. For this you need to know the list of the top 200 drugs and sig codes.
• 12.75% covers pharmaceutical laws and regulations.
• 8.07% covers sterile and non-sterile compounding.
• 12.5% Medical safety.
• 7.5% covers quality assurance.
• 8.75% would comprise questions pertaining to accounting and billing, 8.75% would be about inventory management.
• 10% would questions regarding computing and usage of applications.
• 17.5% would comprise questions pertaining to processing prescriptions and about the ordering data.

14. What are the different types of Pharmacy technicians' jobs?

Retail pharmacies majorly employ pharmacy technicians, which accounts four of the top five employment sectors in the BLS figures. Your job at a pharmacy majorly includes dispensing medications to patients under the supervision of a pharmacist, managing inventory, accounting and billing.

Hospitals and clinics are the second major employer of pharmacy technicians. As part of your job you will be part of a team of health care professionals and your role includes administering medications to patients and in some facilities may include following up with discharged patients ensuring they are taking their medicines correctly.

Other settings include working with pharmaceutical companies and research laboratories, where you are required to assist during the clinical trials.

15. What should I look for in a program?

Whether it is an on campus or an online program you need to look into three major factors before you consider the program:

Checking for Accreditation of the program. (The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the Commission on Credentialing (COC) accredit pharmacy technician training programs in the United States.)

Since on the job training forms an integral part of most certification and degree programs, it is vital to determine the types of externships the program has to offer.

The program needs to provide training to prepare for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) exam.

16. How often do I need to re-certify?

Pharmacy technicians must recertify every 2 years by completing 20 hours of continuing education process. You will be reminded by PTCB of your upcoming recertification deadline. To ensure you receive the email keep your MyPTCB account updated at all times.

17. What if I move to a different state? Is my certification still valid?

Certification is valid nationwide, however regulations vary from state to state. You need to check with your local board of pharmacy verifying requirements in your new state.

18. How do I get certified to be a pharmacy technician?

To get certified you require passing the PTCB exam. To apply for the PTCB exam you need to have a high school diploma. Alternatively you could also earn a certification from the National Health career Association (NHA). The NHA requires students to complete a training program or have at least one year of experience working as a pharmacy technician.

19. PTCB or NHA which is the preferred option for certification?

Both the programs are accredited and each state has different requirements. However PTCB has the longest track record and is better known and hence should be preferable.

20. How do I get a license?

Each state has its own requirements for licensing. Before you apply for your license, ensure these common requirements of licensing between states:

•Fees for applying and receiving your license
•PTCB certificate or other educational proof
•A waiting period for your license to get processed

In order to finalize your licensing process you require contacting your local licensing organizing organization. Many states have their process and licensing forms available online.

21. What are the pros of being a pharmacy technician?

The following are the pros of being in this career:

• There is a rising demand of pharmacy technician jobs.
• You can become certified in less than a year.
• Your job gives you the opportunity to help patients and have social interactions with them which can be fulfilling giving your job a feel good factor.
• The salary packages are quite generous vis-a-vis the training required to become a pharmacy technician.
• You'll have career advancement opportunities in various healthcare sectors.

22. What are the cons of being a pharmacy technician?

The following are the cons of this career:

• You cannot afford to make even the slightest error while dispensing medications to patients.
• You may encounter patients dealing with drug abuse, which can be stressful.
• Many pharmacies are open 24/7. This means you could be working night shifts, over the weekends and at times even on holidays.
• The need of continuing education as you require recertifying every 2 years.

23. What software programs do I need to be well versed with?

As a pharmacy technician you need to be proficient in accounting software to manage patient billing, database software to check for compatible medications, Inventory management software, such as Cardinal Health Pyxis CII Safe, Label Making Software and Medical Software which includes managing patient records and processing prescriptions.

24. When do I need to apply to recertify?

You need to apply 60 days prior the certification expiry date. The application deadline is the first day of the certification expiry date. In case you apply after the deadline a late fee of $25 will be assessed in addition to the required application fee.

25. Is this career well paid in Canada?

The average salary in Canada is influenced by many factors in the health care industry. An average hourly wage can be estimated at CAD$14.17 per hour in Canada.