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Become A Tech - TPTS

Become a Pharmacy Technician

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Education and Training

There are several ways to obtain the necessary education and training to become a pharmacy technician, including: completion of a formal and standardized educational program, on-the-job training (which can range between 3 and 12 months), and online courses. Although most pharmacy technicians receive informal on-the-job training, when available, pharmacy employers favor those who have completed a formal and standardized training program and pursued certification.

Formal technician education programs are available through a variety of organizations, including community colleges, vocational schools, hospitals, and the military. These programs range from 6 months to 2 years and include both classroom and laboratory work. They cover a variety of subject areas, such as medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy record-keeping, pharmaceutical techniques, and pharmacy law and ethics. Pharmacy technicians are also required to learn the names, actions, uses, and doses of the medications they work with. Many training programs include internships, in which students gain hands-on experience in actual pharmacies. After completion, students receive a diploma, a certificate, or an associate's degree, depending on the program.

Over 250 formal technician training programs are American Society of Health-System Pharmacists/Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ASHP/ACPE) accredited. ASHP/ACPE-accredited programs follow nationally recognized standards and regulations. Employers in any state are aware of the training and education that is provided in an ASHP/ACPE-accredited program. ASHP/ACPE-accredited programs include at least 400 hours of training, with didactic (classroom or online), work experiences in an actual pharmacy, and laboratory components. ASHP has a directory of all of the ASHP/ACPE-accredited education and training programs.

Distance learning is becoming a popular way to gain education and training to become a pharmacy technician. Some distance learning programs are a combination of both live, online, and online interactive experience. Many programs are very sophisticated and provide online interactive laboratory experiences, as well as the opportunities for work experiences in an actual pharmacy. These programs are sometimes available from chain pharmacy employers. Several of these programs are ASHP/ACPE-accredited.

Find a Training Program

Choosing a technician training program is an important first step to becoming a pharmacy technician. When you find a program that appeals to you, check out there website, schedule an in-person visit, and ask questions about financial aid, jobs, and the experience of current students. If possible, talk to past graduates to get their perspective too. 

View ASHP's directory of accredited pharmacy technician programs. 

Pharmacy Technician FAQs

Is a career as a pharmacy technician right for me?
A career in pharmacy gives you the chance to be a part of one of the fastest growing fields in health care. Pharmacy technicians work closely with pharmacists to help ensure that patients have the medications that they need.
What are the legal requirements to work as a pharmacy technician?
The requirements to work as a pharmacy technician differ from state to state. For detailed requirements for your specific state, contact the state board of pharmacy. Links to state boards of pharmacy are found at National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP): https://nabp.pharmacy
How do I find an accredited training program?
The Accreditation Services Division of ASHP publishes and maintains an online directory of accredited pharmacy technician training programs arranged alphabetically by state. To access the directory, copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://accreditation.ashp.org/directory/#/program/technician
I do not see a program's name listed on the directory. Is it ASHP/ACPE-accredited?
If the program you are interested in attending is not listed on the ASHP online directory of pharmacy technician training programs, it is not accredited by ASHP/ACPE.
Why is accreditation important?
Pharmacy technicians play an increasingly important role in public safety. Their responsibilities are expanding and evolving as the pharmacy profession changes with new medications, technologies, and challenges. The accreditation process is designed to ensure that trainees receive comprehensive, quality education and to protect the public by requiring training programs to meet a nationally recognized standard for excellence.
What is the benefit of an accredited program?
Pharmacists and employers prefer to hire technicians from accredited training programs. In a recent ASHP survey, 60 percent of pharmacy practice managers said that they offer or would offer tuition assistance for technicians who participate in an accredited training program. ASHP/ACPE-accredited pharmacy technician training is now required by several state boards of pharmacy.
Can I complete an ASHP/ACPE-accredited pharmacy technician training program through an online correspondence course?
There are many programs advertised on television, in magazines, or online that claim you can become a pharmacy technician simply by reading their programs and taking tests. However, becoming a competent pharmacy technician requires both knowledge (which may be obtained online) and skills that must be developed through hands-on experience. ASHP/ACPE-accredited programs involve a combination of classroom instruction and working experiences in an actual pharmacy. ASHP/ACPE-accredited programs must be a minimum length of 400 hours extending over 8 weeks or longer, dependent upon the accreditation standards. There are several distance learning programs that are ASHP/ACPE-accredited.
Does my state require that I graduate from an ASHP/ACPE-accredited program in order to work?
Each state has different requirements, controlled by the board of pharmacy in that state. Not all states require pharmacy technicians to complete an ASHP/ACPE-accredited educational program. However, many states require formalized training and accept ASHP/ACPE-accredited programs to meet that requirement. Some state boards of pharmacy require both formal training and national certification (passing of an examination) in order to become registered or licensed to work. Enrolling in an accredited technician training program will help you to build the necessary skills to meet these requirements so you can assist pharmacists and patients. For detailed requirements for your specific state, contact the state board of pharmacy. Links to state boards of pharmacy are found at National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).
What is certification?
Certified pharmacy technicians successfully completed a test that shows that they have the knowledge needed to perform the duties of a pharmacy technician. The certification exam is administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). PTCB's certification is valid nationwide, but is not a substitute for registration or licensure by your state board of pharmacy. PTCB is currently the only certification program endorsed by the major national pharmacy organizations, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).
Is accreditation the same thing as certification?
No. Pharmacy technician training programs go through the accreditation process to show that they meet the requirements set by an accrediting organization. Individuals who can show that they meet the criteria set by an organization are recognized through certification. Pharmacy technicians who complete their education through an accredited training program often sit for an examination through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Training programs are accredited by ASHP/ACPE.
What is the employment outlook for pharmacy technicians?
Pharmacy technicians are currently in very high demand and employment is projected to continue growing from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. As pharmacies expand patient care services, the role of and need for pharmacy technicians will also expand.
Where can a career as a pharmacy technician take me?
With the appropriate amount of training and experience, pharmacy technicians may be promoted to supervisory roles, seek specialization (e.g., oncology, nuclear pharmacy), or pursue further education and training to become a pharmacist. Some technicians gain specialized skills in sterile compounding, pharmacy automation, and health information systems. A recent ASHP survey of pharmacy practice managers revealed that 56 percent of organizations offer career advancement opportunities for technicians. In an ASHP survey of pharmacy technicians, 81 percent indicated they expect to perform duties of a pharmacy technician for five or more years.
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