A pharmacy technician is a healthcare professional who assists pharmacists with day-to-day operations. Pharmacy technicians work in either a retail or hospital setting. With additional experience and certifications, a pharmacy technician can work in education, management, pharmaceutical sales, the military, compounding facilities, mail-order pharmacies, and even prisons. Still, all require completion of a certification program, passing a national exam, and then becoming registered in a state.
The role of a pharmacy technician varies greatly depending on the setting in which they work. For example, in retail, a pharmacy technician's work is different from a pharmacy technician who works in a hospital or emergency room. In a retail position, a pharmacy technician is the first person customers meet at the counter or drive-thru. A few of the responsibilities fulfilled by retail pharmacy technicians include:
Collecting patient information like name, date of birth, insurance carrier, plan number, and phone number
Measuring amounts of medication (in all forms) according to a provider's order to fill prescriptions
Labeling and packaging prescriptions, which might include printing and inserting drug information
Organizing prescription drugs, restocking prescription drugs, and communicating with the pharmacist or other technicians regarding low or missing inventory
Processing payments and insurance claims
Utilizing an electronic system to fill prescriptions; enter, access, or edit patient information; and process payments
Referring customers to pharmacists for counseling about their medication
Providing customer service at the point of sale for both prescription drug customers and over-the-counter drugstore customers
A pharmacy technician's duties are slightly different in the hospital or emergency room setting. In a hospital, a pharmacy technician will interact with medical staff, such as nurses, doctors, other pharmacy technicians, and pharmacists. Technicians may start in an entry-level position delivering medications to different medical departments and keeping the work flowing by prepping medications and answering phone calls. They may take on more responsibility by compounding intravenous solutions as an IV technician or a chemo IV technician. A few of the responsibilities fulfilled by hospital pharmacy technicians include:
Monitoring medication dispensing machines to ensure supplies are readily available to clinical staff
Stocking shelves, rotating stock, and checking for expired medications
Performing technical processes required to dispense medications to patients
Prepacking bulk medicine-filled bottles with prescribed medications and affixing the correct labels
Cleaning equipment and work areas to maintain safe and sanitary conditions
Complying with all federal laws, company policies, procedures, state regulations, training, and licensure
Preparing parenteral medications under USP 797 guidelines, involving compounding sterile products for IV administration
Preparing non-sterile medications under USP 795 guidelines, involving reviewing recipes, gathering equipment, calibrating, weighing, measuring, and mixing
Calculating beyond-use dates
Filling crash carts
Billing, ordering, and inventory management
To become a pharmacy technician in Texas, the first step is to graduate high school or earn your GED. Either one is a prerequisite to any training program. Then, there are two paths you can take.
First, pharmacy techs in Texas can apply for a Pharmacy Technician Trainee registration, which allows them to participate in a pharmacy's approved training program. However, you must first find a pharmacy that is willing to take you into their training program, and you must be nationally certified within two years as no extensions are granted. Once you obtain your Pharmacy Technician Trainee registration card, there are no extensions, and when it expires, you cannot work as a technician.
The other option is to apply to a pharmacy tech program at a college or university, which often takes less than a year to complete, and then take a national exam. After completing the program and passing the exam, you can then upgrade your trainee card, if you have one, to a Pharmacy Technician Registration Card within the state of Texas. Being registered with the state qualifies you for better opportunities as a pharmacy technician.
The College of Health Care Professions offers a Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program designed to take less than a year. The on-campus blended program length is developed to take fewer than 36 weeks. In that time, you'll work to complete the following courses (among others) in preparation for your career:
Overview of Anatomy, Physiology, and Medical Terminology
Pharmacy Techniques and Practice
Sterile Compounds, Parenteral and IV Admixtures
Certification Prep for Pharmacy Technicians
Once you finish the program, you'll have the opportunity to take a certification exam—either the PTCE or the ExCPT. You will need to pass the exam to apply for registration as a pharmacy technician.
To maintain a Registered Pharmacy Technician license, you must then continue your education by completing continuing education (CE) requirements within two years to stay up to date with the changes in pharmacy and best practices.
There are two different pharmacy tech certifications available, both of which are honored by the Texas State Board of Pharmacy.
You can become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) by taking and passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). To take this exam, you must complete a recognized training program or demonstrate equivalent work experience beforehand. The exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within two hours. The test is taken at an approved testing center and exam results are displayed immediately upon completion.
You can also become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) by taking and passing the ExCPT Exam, which is a 100-question exam administered at an approved test center or at a location of your choice. Results are posted within two days of your test date.
Regardless of the path you take, you must earn a passing score to become certified. Both platforms offer a variety of study guides and resources for purchase, but CHCP also provides exam prep as part of your program.
According to PayScale, pharmacy technicians start at around $13.04 per hour in Dallas, Texas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also shares reliable, up-to-date statistics on pharmacy technician pay. Still, it's important to keep in mind that the data reported by the BLS reflects the median, which encompasses experienced technicians, so new graduates from a pharmacy technician training program should set expectations accordingly. You can also sort through open positions in your area to see pay ranges for pharmacy technicians in different settings.
The College of Health Care Professions offers a 36-week blended-delivery Pharmacy Technician program at our Dallas, Fort Worth, McAllen, and San Antonio South campuses. Students are scheduled for on-campus classes two days a week and complete the remainder of their assignments online. Students who choose a formal training program through a college or university access several benefits:
Fostering professional relationships with other pharmacy technician students, who serve as a future network for employment opportunities and professional questions
Studying with like-minded students who are learning the same material at the same time—exposing them to additional questions and insights they may not have learned independently
Completing the program ready for licensure and employment, making them a more competitive candidate in the job market
Greater access to exam prep support to prepare for the certification exam
Accelerated pace of learning—most on-the-job training programs take much longer than 36 weeks
Externship sites that allow students to choose a clinical area of interest
When you choose The College of Health Care Professions, the courses you take will expose you to topics that can help you to be an effective pharmacy technician, including customer service, professionalism, and career preparation. At the end of your program, you'll complete a 180-hour externship, allowing you the opportunity to put the skills and knowledge you acquired throughout the program to work, ask questions, and gain experience in real working environments, under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist.
After graduation, we'll provide statewide job placement assistance to support your job-hunting efforts.
It's never too late to invest in your own future by starting your post-secondary education journey. If you're ready to take the leap and work toward becoming a certified pharmacy technician, apply at The College of Health Care Professions today!!