Anyone with an interest in a rewarding career in the healthcare services field as a pharmacy technician will need to obtain a considerable amount of education and pharmacy technician training in order to become certified (or registered in the UK).
Certified Pharmacy Technicians have the ability to work in a wide variety of jobs in the field, many more so than simply assisting at the pharmacy counter at a local or chain retail drugstore.
The needed education is very specific though, with students attending specialized courses (unless they have decided to earn their Associates Degree as well, in which case a regular college curriculum is supplemented with courses necessary for obtaining the CPhT).
What Kind of Pharmacy Technician Training is Necessary?
There are numerous types of pharmacy technician programs available which provide education and training for pharmacy techs. They differ greatly, however; 10-week (and other shorter) programs, generally called “certificate” programs – not to be confused with “certification” programs – typically give a general overview of the profession, introduce the student to the basics of becoming a pharmacy tech in a retail setting, and enable students to apply for those types of jobs.
On the other hand, diploma programs generally take 1 year or more, prepare the student to pass the exam to receive their CPhT certification, and are extremely in depth. There are also online studies that sit somewhere in the middle of these, but the main difference with certification courses is that they have a required externship where students learn through hands-on experience.
Generally, study courses found in typical certification programs and Associates’ Degree specialized courses include the following: Human Anatomy, Chemistry, Human Physiology, Pharmacology, Medical/Pharmaceutical Terminology, Pharmacy Administration and Computing, Pharmacy Inventory Control, Dosages and Calculations, Pharmaceutical Law, Medication Preparation, Drug Compounding, Prescription Labeling, Drug Emergencies, Medical/Insurance Billing, and a number of other, specialized topics.
Additionally, any students also earning an Associates’ Degree will be completing the general courses associated with that.
Externships Are a Part of Pharmacy Technician Training
All CPhT and (UK) Registered Pharmacy Tech programs complete with a certain amount of on the job training via an externship. For CPht Courses, they usually require the student to accrue 400 or more hours working under the supervision of a licensed Pharmacist, and usually take place in a retail pharmacy environment.
In the UK and abroad, some of the hands-on requirements are much more extensive, with as much as a year or more of working experience necessary in order for techs to become Registered.
The amount of time, and other specifics, also depends greatly on the level of specialty and job position that the technician wishes to obtain. In general though, it should be assumed that the programs with externships are those that provide the highest qualifications, the best jobs and the most pay.
Employment After Pharmacy Technician Training
Once having completed the educational and work experience requirements, and being awarded their certifications, qualified pharmacy technicians can fill a number of different jobs, beginning of course with employment in a retail pharmacy.
Beyond that however, more challenging and better paying positions exist in hospitals, outpatient facilities, inpatient facilities, specialty pharmacies like compounding pharmacies, pharmacy supply companies, health insurance companies and many more.
With the certification of CPhT or being a Registered pharmacy technician, more responsibilities and duties follow, but these all provide for much better employment opportunities.
Once having earned the necessary certifications, pharmacy technicians are usually then required to accrue a certain amount of hours of continuing education per year in order to keep their certifications current. This can happen in a number of different ways, though it is usually done through attending educational conferences and study courses.
Requirements vary greatly depending on the certification, the country and state, and the position in which the pharmacy technician is employed.
Continuing education is not that difficult to keep up with however, and should not be viewed as being so. In actuality, it is a way for those already working in the field to keep up with new medications, new procedures, updated laws, healthcare and insurance policies and other topics that change quite frequently.
As anyone should be able to see, there is quite a bit of learning involved with becoming a Pharmacy Technician, but this is also what makes it such a valuable and attractive position.
Those interested in beginning their pharmacy technician training and education should at least have an idea as to what is involved in obtaining that study, and earning their qualifications.