A career as a Pharmacy Technician provides stability, the opportunity to help people, and the chance to play a vital role in an ever-changing medical field. Pharmacy Technicians help process and prepare medications in retail and hospital pharmacies and ensure patients receive the correct medications as quickly and safely as possible. If a pharmaceutical career has piqued your interest, read on to see how you can get started in this field in as few as ten months.
Before we dive into the steps you can take to become a pharmacy technician, consider enrolling in Florida Career College’s Pharmacy Technician Program. You can graduate from the program in as little as 10 months and earn your pharmacy technician diploma!
What is a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy Technicians work under the supervision of a pharmacist to prepare and distribute medications to patients. They play an important role in ensuring patients have the medicines and tools they need to begin feeling better. The exact duties of a Pharmacy Technician may vary from one pharmacy to the next, but it’s a career that allows you to be involved in the medical field and provide necessary assistance to patients but without direct patient care.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
A Pharmacy Technician works under the supervision of a pharmacist in a hospital, drug store, or other medical setting to prepare prescriptions and ensure the health and safety of those receiving medications. They are responsible for locating, packing, and labeling prescription medications to prepare for patient pick up. They may also help with administrative tasks inside a pharmacy, like reviewing prescriptions, processing insurance claims, monitoring inventory, and keeping patient records.
Pharmacy technicians use chemistry and math to help prepare medications. Their work also requires the ability to multi-task and great attention to detail to ensure quality and safety.
What Are the Duties of a Pharmacy Technician?
The exact duties of a Pharmacy Technician can vary from one workplace to the next and may depend on state laws and the assistance needed by a pharmacist. In general, they may be responsible for:
- Reviewing prescription orders and refills to ensure completion and accuracy
- Preparing prescriptions (locating, counting, pouring, weighing, measuring, and mixing liquid medications when necessary)
- Using formulas, ratios, and calculations to ensure the accuracy of doses
- Processing insurance claims
- Special handling of medications used to treat cancer
- Ensure accurate patient records
- Use a computer to prepare and print medication labels
- Tracking inventory
- Repackaging bulk medications
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What Skills Do You Need to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
The role of a pharmacy technician is the perfect mix of knowledge of pharmaceuticals and the medical field and excellent customer service. Training will help you develop both types of skills.
The hands-on skills and knowledge a pharmacy technician needs are:
- Ability to perform simple calculations
- Ability to file an insurance claim
- Knowledge of state laws
- Ability to operate pharmacy equipment
- Knowledge of medication names and uses
- Knowledge of Federal requirements for handling medications
- Knowledge of patient safety procedures
- Recognizing expiration dates on medications and supplies
The interpersonal skills necessary to be a successful pharmacy technician include:
- Attention to detail. Working with prescribed medications and ensuring they are dispensed safely requires great attention to detail. You cannot let the rush of the day distract you from noticing an expired medication, an incorrect dose, or a wrong calculation.
- Excellent communication. Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a pharmacist, and they also may be in contact with a doctor or doctor’s office to make sure a prescription is filled correctly. This requires great communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team.
- Working in a pharmacy can sometimes be fast-paced. Pharmacy Technicians must be able to work quickly and also multi-task between preparing medications and performing administrative tasks.
- Problem solver. It’s impossible to say what unexpected challenges may come up, but a good pharmacy technician should feel comfortable assessing a situation and coming up with a good solution to keep patients safe.
Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work?
Pharmacy Technicians most often work in drug or grocery stores, hospitals, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities. They usually spend the day on their feet finding medications, counting, calculating, packaging, and labeling prescriptions. They do a lot of work on a computer, looking up prescriptions, filing insurance claims, and communicating with pharmacists and doctors. Some pharmacies are open nights, weekends, or holidays to better serve patients who may require pharmacy technicians to work those hours as well.
Pharmacy technicians may also be needed at pharmaceutical production companies, prisons, primary care physician offices, or even a veterinary pharmacy.
Do You Need a College Degree to Become a Patient Care Technician?
You do NOT need a college degree to become a Patient Care Technician, but you do need a certificate or diploma from a training program. As with most jobs, the more education and training you can list on your resume, the more likely you are to get an interview or be hired for the job. Also, to enroll in FCC's pharmacy technician program, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Working closely with patients as a Patient Care Technician requires a significant amount of specialized training. Patient Care Technicians must be familiar with medical terms and the healthcare system. They must know how to take a patient’s vitals, collect blood or urine samples, and operate medical equipment.
They must also have training on how to care for geriatric or disabled patients. The Patient Care Technician is often the one to change a patient’s sheets, help them cloth or bath themselves, and may even help with feeding. A Patient Care Technician also needs training to be able to safely move a patient for their comfort or for a medical procedure. A Patient Care Technician is an important part of a patient’s medical team, and their training helps them recognize any issues that should be reported to the supervising doctor.
What Are the Educational Requirements To Enroll in FCC’s Pharmacy Technician Program?
You need a high school diploma to enroll in Florida Career College’s Pharmacy Technician Program. Once you’ve obtained your high school diploma, Florida Career College will use its resources and support to help you succeed. If you are ready to begin, contact us, and one of our admissions professionals will provide you with all of the information that you need to enroll in our pharmacy technician training program.
If you already have your high school diploma or GED, bring your records with you when you come to enroll. The only other requirement is you must be at least 18 years old to enroll.
How Long is the Pharmacy Technician Program?
Florida Career College’s Pharmacy Technician program can be completed in as few as 10 months. Each course, or module, takes approximately a month to complete, with the exception of the externship, which is 200 hours.
Our program is set up as a hybrid program. Students join live lectures and complete assignments and quizzes online from anywhere. Twice a week, students participate in an in-person lab experience to practice the concepts that were taught online and practice new skills. This combination of online learning and hands-on lab experiences provides flexibility to Pharmacy Technician students and meets the needs of many different learning styles.
If you are interested in beginning a new career quickly, Florida Career College can give you the knowledge and skills to become a Pharmacy Technician in less than a year.
Should You Become a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy Technicians are needed anywhere prescription medications are prepared and distributed to help ensure safety and quality. It’s a stable career option with room for growth as you gain experience. If you want to be involved in the medical field and provide valuable assistance to pharmacists, medical professionals, and patients, becoming a Pharmacy Technician may be a good fit for you.
Some of the benefits of becoming a Pharmacy Technician include:
It’s necessary to have thorough training and knowledge of medications, pharmacy equipment, and safety procedures, but the skills needed to begin an entry-level position as a pharmacy technician can be learned in less than a year. An accredited Pharmacy Technician program will get you up to speed and feel confident to begin this new career quickly. It’s a great option for anyone who wants to begin working within a year.
As technology advances, the medical field changes and develops as well. This is creating a demand for young, computer-savvy professionals who are eager to learn and grow in a new career in the medical field. These qualified professionals are needed in every state across the country.
Room for professional growth.
Pharmacy Technicians don’t have to work just in a retail or hospital pharmacy. With experience, you may decide to seek certification in one specialty or further your education to become a pharmacist. There may also be opportunities to work in nursing homes, pharmacy automation, compounding pharmacies, or more. If you are driven to succeed and eager to gain new skills, you may have doors opened within the pharmaceutical field.
As a pharmacy technician, you’ll learn all about the medications you are handling and how they affect the body. You never know when this information may come in handy.
Pharmacy Technicians are often on their feet, searching, calculating, mixing, and preparing medications or calling medical professionals and insurance companies. This quick-moving environment can make the work day fly by. If you enjoy working with your hands, this could be a fun job to have.
At the end of the day, each medication you help prepare and insurance claim you file is another patient served. You can rest easy knowing the work you are doing is helping real people start to feel better.
Like all careers, being a pharmacy technician does not come without some cons. Some common complaints are:
Odd work hours.
You may be asked to work on the weekends, on holidays or during the evenings. The need for prescribed medications does not go away when business hours end. Sometimes getting a prescription filled can be a matter of life and death. Pharmacies know this and try to be flexible to serve patients as best they can.
While there is always something new to learn, the day-to-day functions of a pharmacy technician may be repetitive. You may find yourself visiting the same shelf, mixing up the same medication, and dealing with the same equipment over and over again. It’s important to practice good self-care and break up the monotony, so you don’t become complacent and lose sight of the details.
Good customer service is a must.
Not all customers who come to a pharmacy to pick up a medication will be kind. They may be stressed out, impatient, and rude. It’s important in this position to have a positive attitude and the ability to deliver service with a kind smile, even if it’s not always returned.
If you enjoy solving problems, working with your hands, and being a part of a rewarding field, then becoming a pharmacy technician may be right for you. Don’t hesitate to begin training for an entry-level position you can be proud of.
What Should You Look for in a Pharmacy Technician Program?
If you are interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, you can get started quickly with training from our program. As you search for the best program for you, here are a few things you should consider:
What is the student experience like? A good program will have not only a solid curriculum but solid student support as well. Research the program’s schedule for assignments, lectures, and in-person time. Some pharmacy technician programs are offered exclusively online, but a fully-online program may not provide the hands-on experiences a student needs to become comfortable working in a pharmacy setting.
A good program should also offer opportunities to build a network of support with other students and be able to learn from each other.
If you like to socialize, search for a program that offers opportunities to have a real college experience. At Florida Career College, our campus culture is diverse and welcoming. Student ambassadors help organize events on campus and may also be available to offer to tutor and mentor as needed.
What is the cost of the program?
If you have felt like the cost of a bachelor’s degree from a large university has always been out of reach, you may be pleasantly surprised by the average cost of pharmacy technician training. Furthermore, FCC offers financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans to those who qualify.
Consider Enrolling in Florida Career College’s Pharmacy Technician Classes!
If working in a pharmacy, handling medications, and helping patients sounds like a good fit for you, consider enrolling in Florida Career College’s Pharmacy Technician Program.
Our program has the built-in support and resources you need to complete your training quickly and find an entry-level position as a pharmacy technician.
Our Admissions team will walk you through the steps to enroll and begin your training. We invite you to take a tour of our campus, visit the pharmacy technician labs and see the equipment that our students work with. We offer ongoing enrollment so you can jump into classes on the next start date—no waiting for a new semester to begin!
Our classes are on a hybrid schedule with online lectures and assignments and in-person, hands-on lab experiences twice a week. Our students handle real equipment, perform calculations, print labels, and review prescriptions.
After your courses, each student completes a 200-hour externship at a pharmacy. You’ll have the opportunity to see how a real pharmacy functions and the roles a pharmacy technician takes on. You’ll be able to build connections with pharmacists and learn from them as you work side by side to serve real patients/customers.
Our Career Services Department helps students update their resumes, including their externship experience, complete registration and find entry-level positions in your area. We’re also happy to work with students on interview skills to make you feel comfortable getting the position!
If you dream of working in a real pharmacy, as part of a team serving patients with their medication needs, and are curious about how medications affect the human body—don’t wait! You can get started in an entry-level position in as few as ten months with training from Florida Career College.