Everything You Need to Know to Become a Pharmacy Technician | AIMS Education

October 29th, 2020

Are you planning on becoming a pharmacy technician, also known as a pharm tech? Whether you’re already working in a pharmacy or just starting out in the allied healthcare industry, you’ve definitely chosen a prospective career path. 

Read our practical guide and explore all steps you need to take to become a pharmacy tech and advance in the allied health field.

1. Choose the Right Pharmacy Technician School

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The first and most important step in building a successful pharmacy tech career is to find a school that offers suitable programs. Additionally, the course you go for needs to suit your availability and schedule. Factors such as location, ability to commute or relocate, and personal circumstances, often influence the right decision.

Many prospective pharmacy assistants and technicians work part-time or occasionally full-time as they study. So they prefer schools that can provide a more flexible schedule. 

If attending classes in another city (or even state) is something you are willing to do and able to afford, it is worth exploring the options. Visit a few schools to get a better feel for the atmosphere and facilities. Remember to make an appointment with a school representative before your visit. After all, their job is to help you with any questions or concerns that you may have, so make the most of their expertise and advice.

Discuss Your Options with an Admissions Expert

Speaking to a professional can be very useful and reassuring. Before you apply and enroll in a pharmacy tech course, it is a good idea to discuss your options with an admission officer.

The goal of any talented admissions expert is to explain the application and enrollment processes and help get you on the right track. When you meet them, they’ll go over your prior academic performance as well as any personal goals you want to accomplish while attending pharmacy tech training. You can also take the time to discuss the relevant prices, structure of courses, and financial aid opportunities.

Check Full Details on the Pharmacy Tech Training 

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 Once you’ve shortlisted a few schools, it is essential to carefully research the full course details relevant to each. This includes structure, modules, duration, applicable costs, and last but not least, flexibility. The pharmacy tech program you go for needs to suit your schedule and responsibilities. Some of them provide day and night instruction, which might be ideal for people making a career change.

2. See If Financial Aid Applies to Your Pharmacy Tech Training

Don’t worry if you didn’t have a perfect GPA in high school: a student’s economic need is the primary consideration of most financial aid programs. Your family’s income will be compared to the cost of the selected course to estimate the amount of aid you will receive. 

Some students can afford their education thanks to financial aid, and more than a few pharmacy tech schools and training programs are eligible for federal student aid. So do not hesitate to apply if you need extra support regardless of your background.

Be sure to submit your FAFSA application at least a week before applying to your chosen pharmacy technician school. Don’t worry, the paperwork is pretty clear-cut and takes less than an hour to complete.

3. Enroll as a Pharmacy Tech Student

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 Please note: to be eligible for a pharmacy tech training program, you will need a high school diploma (or equivalent), and be at least 17 at the time of application.

Once you’ve explored the available options, you can enroll in the pharmacy tech training program that best serves your schedule and goals.

Many training programs allow prospective students to apply on a rolling admissions schedule, meaning that they can enroll as soon as a course start date has been published.

While some schools may allow you to enroll online, many require you to visit them in person to ensure that your documents and financial aid are in order. Your pharmacy tech training program might also require an interview with a department head, as well as the passing of an entrance exam like the Wonderlic SLE, Accuplacer, or a comparable test.

Many schools enroll prospective students – who meet all of the admission and entrance exam requirements – on the same day of their application. It requires the signing of an enrollment agreement and any other compulsory documents. If the training program doesn’t give you immediate acceptance, don’t worry: you should have an answer within 1-2 weeks.

Why Pass an Entrance Exam for Pharmacy Tech Studies?

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 Entrance exams like the Wonderlic and Accuplacer measure the applicant’s cognitive ability and problem-solving aptitude. Will students be able to meet coursework fundamentals? Can they retain key information? These exams measure students’ basic proficiency and determine whether they will be successful in future classes.

Attend the Orientation of Your Pharmacy Tech Program

Though it’s not mandatory, think of orientation as a perfect opportunity to learn about school policies and procedures. Take advantage of this time to ask administrators and professors essential questions that you may still have. It can clear out your concerns and help you set realistic expectations for the course of your study.

4. Start Your Pharmacy Technician Training Course

Unlike a pharmacy degree – which can take years to complete – pharmacy techs can finish their training programs in under a year. During the classroom and lab instruction, trainee pharmacy technicians study drug classifications, proper pharmaceutical administration, medical terminology, and pharmacy management.

They aim to prepare pharmacy techs for their future daily responsibilities, among which, preparing medications, performing various administrative tasks, and assisting customers. 

Complete a Pharmacy Tech Internship

Most pharmacy technician programs require students to complete a clinical internship, which is the best way to gain real-world experience in this role.

An experienced mentor will guide you, which is an excellent way to understand more about your future career. Additionally, having industry know-how gives you the skills to hit the ground running as a confident, experienced pharmacy tech.

5. Become a Certified Pharmacy Tech

After you fulfill your pharmacy tech training, you will have the opportunity to take your Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam with the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Those who pass the exam become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).

Even if your state doesn't require pharmacy tech certification, earning the CPhT credential can set you apart in such a competitive job market. Certified pharmacy technicians often have better career opportunities and potential for growth across the US. Additionally, pharmacy tech certification boosts the chances of securing a higher paying entry-level position and fast-tracking your way up the career ladder.

6. Start an Entry-Level Pharmacy Tech Job

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 There are many reasons to become a pharmacy tech, and a stable, growing job market is one of them. Qualified pharmacy technicians enjoy plenty of employment opportunities across the US that are consistently increasing. 

Once you complete your formal training and internship, you will be fully prepared to apply for an entry-level pharmacy tech job. Your opportunities and salary will depend on the additional qualifications you own, as well as your physical location. Explore what your options are for a pharmacy tech career in New Jersey.

7. Advance in the Field to Increase Your Pharmacy Tech Salary

As with most other professions, to progress in this field you need to be a dedicated learner with the ambition to grow and persistence to achieve. Additional credentials such as certifications, experience, and other allied health qualifications can have a significant impact on how much you earn. So those who are willing to invest some time and effort will enjoy even a higher pharmacy tech salary and other benefits.

Apply to a Pharmacy Technician Program Today

With an expansive job market and a solid entry-level salary, there’s no reason why you can’t find an amazing allied healthcare career as a pharmacy technician.

If you’re looking to pursue your education in the New Jersey area, get in touch with AIMS Education today to learn about the Pharmacy Technician program and start right away!