The Good Kind of Drug Dealer: How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

pharmacy tech giving drug to client

Do you enjoy helping other people? Do you dream of working in health care? Do you have impeccable attention to detail?

If you answered yes to these questions, you already have part of what it takes to be a competent pharmacy technician.

But what else do you need to land this job?

In this article, we're telling you how to become a pharmacy tech. Keep reading!

Understand the Role of a Pharmacy Technician

It's important to get a good grasp of what a pharmacy tech does on a day-to-day basis. This way, you'll be well aware of what awaits you and decide if the career is the right fit.

Pharmacy techs are the link between pharmacists and patients (customers). They work to ensure an efficient dispensation of drugs to patients. This involves screening drug prescriptions, preparing and dispensing the prescribed drugs, and answering patients' questions.

Other duties include:

  • Entering patient prescriptions into a computer system
  • Maintaining the drug inventory
  • Labeling drug prescriptions and processing drug returns
  • Taking phone calls from customers and handling drug refill requests
  • Accepting customer payments and processing insurance claims

Be sure to find out more about the duties and work environment of a pharmacy technician before taking the next step.

Pursue a Course in Pharmacy Technology

About five years ago, it wasn't uncommon for aspiring pharmacy techs to get started with just a high school diploma. They would then undergo extensive on-the-job training.

Today, though, the field is getting increasingly competitive. Candidates with specialized training have the strongest chance of catching an employer's eye.

As such, the first step to becoming a pharmacy tech is to pursue a certificate or associate degree in pharmacy technology. You'll take classes in:

  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pharmacy calculations
  • Diseases of the human body
  • Pharmacy informatics and technology
  • Pharmacy maintenance
  • Pharmacology
  • Administrative care management
  • Diseases of the human body

As part of the program requirements, you'll also complete a pharmacy externship. This is a good opportunity to gain some job experience before graduating.

There are hundreds of colleges offering courses in pharmacy tech, so you have to do some research and find the most credible. You should apply for a program that's accredited by a recognized professional body, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Nurture the Relevant Occupational Skills

Along with your professional knowledge, you need a range of occupational skills to excel in the role.

For example, you need exceptional attention to small details. Because the job involves screening prescriptions, counting tablets and mixing drug solutions, making an error can have serious consequences.

Pharmacy technicians are customer-facing professionals. You need excellent communication skills to listen to customers' inquiries and offer clear, easy-to-understand responses.

In the course of your work, you'll come across patients who may be in pain or stressed about their conditions. As a competent pharm tech, your job isn't only to dispense drugs and accept payments. You should able to put yourself in patients' shoes, understand their fears, and empathize with their situation.

The modern pharmacy technician also needs to be computer literate. You'll interact with computers and software programs for inventory management, customer billing, and insurance claims processing.

Other useful skills include:

  • Numerical skills to count and measure drugs accurately
  • Interpersonal skills to strike positive working relations with other pharmacy techs
  • Organizational skills to keep drugs in an orderly manner
  • The ability to work quickly while on your feet
  • Problem-solving skills to address customer complaints

Meet State Licensing Requirements

Most states require pharmacy techs to have an occupational license to qualify for employment.

Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so make sure to check with your state's pharmacy board for specific details. In most cases, though, applicants must obtain additional certification from either of these bodies:

After getting certified, you can apply to your state's board of pharmacy for licensure.

Know Where to Find Employment

You're licensed, now what?

The next step is to look for a job and to do that you need to know where to hunt.

Retail pharmacy chains and drugs stores are the largest employers of pharmacy techs. There are also employment opportunities in hospitals, long-term care facilities, mail service companies, and in the military.

What influences your choice of employer?

Well, it depends on your motivation for wanting to pursue the career. If you're very passionate about helping other people, you'll enjoy working in hospital settings and long-term care facilities. If you're looking to serve your country without having to bear arms, the military is your ideal employer.

Further Your Career

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

As an ambitious pharmacy technician, you want to climb the career ladder. Lucky for you, this role can be a stepping stone to higher positions.

After gaining vast experience, for example, you could get promoted to the position of supervisor. You'll be in charge of other pharmacy techs, but still under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist.

Another position you can go for is that of a pharmacy manager. These professionals are responsible for the smooth operation of a pharmacy. They handle everything from hiring to procuring drugs.

To enhance your chances of getting this position, take a course in pharmacy management.

Become a Pharmacy Technician and Save Lives

Pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in the health sector, working to ensure patients get the medicines they need.

This career is a good opportunity to work in the health field, especially if you don't want to undergo the extensive training most health care jobs require. Start by taking a course in pharmacy technology, then obtain a state license and you'll be ready to go!

Need more career tips? Explore our blog.

 

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