How to Quickly Become a Pharmacy Technician
Becoming a pharmacy technician can offer a fast-track into the medical field and a growing career field. In fact, pharmacy tech jobs are expected to grow by about 7% in the next few years, and the healthcare industry itself is set to add millions of jobs in the next decade. This means plenty of job opportunities for new graduates like you!
If you’ve ever wondered what a pharmacy technician does, some responsibilities include:
- Filing insurance info
- Helping to fill and locate prescriptions
- Helping to keep the pharmacy clean and organized
- Interacting with patients/customers
One of the greatest rewards that a career in pharmacy tech can offer is the ability to help others. Millions depend on their prescriptions for everyday life, and you’ll be taking part in one of the most crucial societal jobs.
Here’s our guide on how to quickly become a pharmacy technician and get your new career started.
Choosing A Program
The US is home to thousands of colleges; from community colleges to large universities to online-only certification programs. Choosing a pharmacy technician program involves a lot of planning. You’ll need to consider your schedule, how quickly you want to earn a pharmacy technician certification, the cost of the program, as well as what your state’s qualifications are.
You’ll likely need to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, but you can also opt for a two-year associate’s degree in pharmacy tech. Depending on your schedule and budget, a certification might be preferable, and you can find work in the field with just a Pharmacy Tech state certification.
Cost: The cost of a pharmacy technician certification/degree varies from state to state and between different programs. You’ll need to consider whether or not you’re in-state or out of state, attending online school or on-campus education, as well as books, fees, and more.
It’s important to be thorough when you’re researching the cost of your chosen program(s). Often, hidden fees accompany college courses, such as “distance-learning” fees, “program” fees, and more. Don’t be afraid to request a detailed tuition information kit from your school. Schools have to provide their tuition rates to students, so if you ask, you should get what you need!
Add up the total cost of the program and make some comparisons before you make a final choice. Pharmacy tech certifications/degrees are generally affordable, with the lower end of things sitting at around $1,000-$3,000, and higher-end universities can cost around $20,000 or more.
Scheduling: Pharmacy technician programs are generally quite flexible, and many programs offer a “learn at your own pace” style of learning. Essentially, you can study when you want to. It can take you as little as 10 months or as long as a few years to earn your certification, depending on how much time you spend on it.
Most pharmacy technicians finish their training and schooling in about 1-2 years. An associate’s degree program is set up for a two-year time period, but the certification can take about one year to complete.
Earn Your Certification and Pass The PTCE
Once you choose a school, you’ll want to get started right away earning your degree or certification. You’ll have to take part in a specific number of in-person training hours, as per your state guidelines. This will allow you to step into your future role as a pharmacy technician and learn all about what your responsibilities will be.
Passing the PTCE means you’ll need to study, study, study! The exam fee is $129, though some programs may include the cost of the testing in the tuition structure. The test itself contains 90 scored multiple-choice questions and 10 un-scored multiple-choice questions.
You’ll have two hours to complete your test, so take your time, answer to the best of your abilities, and be confident in your training. Once you’ve completed, you’ll get an unofficial score immediately following the test; so you’ll get a rough idea of whether or not you’ve passed.
Finding work in the healthcare field can be exhausting. Even with millions of job opportunities, it’s not always easy to locate the right job for you. Many pharmacy tech programs have job placement opportunities for students, so you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.
Your in-person training hours will likely take place in a pharmacy that is looking to hire graduates from your school, so be sure to pay close attention and set yourself apart from the other students.
Earning your pharmacy tech degree or certification can take as little as one year, but you’ll need to carefully choose your training program to meet both your scheduling and budget constraints. Make sure your school is accredited as well, especially if you’re using an online training program. You’ll spend less at these programs, but be wary of scams.