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How to Become a Pharmacy Tech


How to become a pharmacy technician

Pharmacy technicians are an integral part of this nation's healthcare system, and it can be a great career. If you are interested in working in healthcare and the idea of handling patient information and mixing prescriptions, you can use this helpful guide to learn how to become a pharmacy tech

What Pharmacy Technicians Do

A pharmacy technician can have a range of responsibilities depending on the location in which they work. However, they basically serve as the connection between the pharmacist and the customer. If you're on the path to becoming a pharmacy tech, your responsibilities could include mixing the medications, measuring out accurate amounts of different medications, handling and recording patient information, labeling prescriptions, and even getting in touch with the customer's doctor for approval on refills.

Pharmacy techs work in national chains, local drug stores, and pharmacies in larger stores (such as grocery and convenience stores).

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician: Two Paths

There are generally two answers to the question of how to become a pharmacy tech. The route you take simply depends on your preferences. You can learn how to be a pharmacy tech through an associate's degree program at a college or through a specialized certification program.

Below, we'll break down the specifics of each pathway so that you know what to expect and can make an informed decision on what makes sense for you. Regardless of which path you choose, though, pharmacy tech requirements include having at least a high school diploma or equivalent and being approved by the pharmacy tech program you attend.

The College Route

Perhaps the surest way to become a pharmacy technician is to obtain your associate's degree through an accredited college or university. More intense than the shorter certification program route, it typically takes about two years to complete an associate's degree.

Depending on your state, you may not be required to take a certification test if you have already earned your associate's degree as a pharmacy technician. That's because degree-holders undergo more thorough training.

So why should you choose the college route? If you're looking to get your undergraduate degree eventually, this is a good option, as many credits can transfer toward that eventual degree. Also, pharmacy techs with an associate's degree may earn a higher salary than those with a simple certification. If you do choose this route, check out Exam Edge's practice tests for pharmacy college admissions.

The Certification Route

On the other hand, the college option is not for everyone. Certification programs are often offered online or through community colleges. How long does it take to become a pharmacy technician through one of these programs? They usually only last two semesters, or one year. That's a full year shorter than a full associate's degree program, so this could be a good option if you're trying to find a quicker solution to further your career.

Courses in both the certification programs and college pathways can include information on basic healthcare systems, preparing mixtures and compounds in a sterile fashion, math used in pharmaceutical situations, and more. They can also include hands-on practice with filling prescription medications.

Passing Your Pharmacy Technician Exam

If you want to become a pharmacy tech, the last step before you can apply for a job is to pass your certification exam. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board exam contains questions on a variety of topics related to pharmacy tech work. In order of most questions to least questions, the topics include Medications, Patient Safety and Quality Assurance, Order Entry and Processing, and Federal Requirements.

The exam lasts for a maximum of two hours and contains a total of 90 questions, 80 of which are scored and 10 of which are unscored. You will need to score at least 1400 in order to pass the test, and higher scores might make you all the more popular on the job market.

Preparing for Your Pharmacy Tech Exam

When preparing to take a certification test to become a pharmacy technician, you can make use of a lot of tools. By far the best way to prepare for any test, though, is to practice! At Exam Edge, we provide full sets of practice tests for pharmacy technician certification exams. Not only do these tests have the same number of questions and cover the same content, but they can also be taken in both timed and untimed versions.

At the end of your practice pharmacy tech certification test, you can see all the questions you missed as well as explanations for correct answers. This helps you learn where you need to focus during study sessions. Also, by taking many practice tests before your big day, you help reduce those exam-day nerves as you become more familiar with the exam's pacing and challenge level.

That's just a few of the many benefits of taking practice tests!