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How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

The pharmaceutical sector in the US is world's biggest market. Building a career in this provides excellent avenues for success.
Kundan Pandey
Pharmacy is one of the most rewarding branches in the medical field as it has opened doors for numerous career opportunities.
The job of pharmacy technicians, that has been predicted by the BLS to grow by 12% between 20016 to 2026, is one such profession in pharmaceutical field, that has tremendous scope for further growth. Be it the salary, or any other aspect, this field certainly has the potential to accelerate your career.
If you're not sure if you want to pursue this field, introspect your decision again. You must be really interested as only then you will put sustained efforts to pursue the course and the profession.

Step 1: Early Bird Catches the Worm

If you're in high school or studying in a college, ensure that you start taking your career planning issues seriously. This is the ideal time to start your career. So choose something that interests you. Hence, if you work hard and get very good grades in Maths, English and Sciences you are suitable for this course.

Step 2: Know Exactly What Is Required

Every medical profession is governed by some authorized bodies. In this case, it is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) that certifies licensed professionals. You have to visit their website and know in detail about the eligibility criteria regarding the course you want to pursue in this sector.
Although in the recent years, there are no laws imposed by federal government on pharmacy technicians, almost all states require them to register with their respective state board of pharmacy. Moreover, getting certifications from esteemed bodies like The PTCB or The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) is mandatory in many states.
So you must pass certification exams conducted by PTCB and ICPT to pursue your dreams further. Also, remember that certifications increase the chances of better employment and hence decent salaries. Some states also have various other requirements like training and work experience.

Step 3: Seek Knowledge About the Profession

Just like any profession demands right education, even this profession requires you to attend pharmacy schools. Although, state bodies don't have any specifically designed courses, owing to increasing competition in this field, a lot of stress has been put on educational qualifications.
As an aspirant, you can study either a diploma or an associate's degree from reputed pharmacy school. Always aim to enter the top institutions. If you don't get an opportunity to attend an elite college, you can take online diploma certifications.
Remember, even if you graduate from a simple school, your performance in this industry can help you grow. Depending on your chosen program, the number of months will vary. An associate's degree for instance may last for a year, and is structured to grant complete knowledge and skill of this profession. Other courses may be of shorter duration.

Step 4: Mobilize Final Efforts

After your training and studies are over, you've got to seek the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPHT) certification. Obtaining certifications may not be necessary in some states but don't underestimate their importance. They can be great in improving your career prospects.
To obtain CPHT certification, you need to pass two exams viz., the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCE) conducted by the PTCB, and the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT) conducted by the ICPT.
Remember, both these exams are national level exams consisting of 90 and 120 MCQs respectively. You must prepare well in advance to tackle them. Check out your state board of pharmacy to know which of the two certifications is deemed important in your state. These certifications need to be re-certified after every two years.

Step 5: Sky is the Limit

Finally, you reach at this grand stage of starting your professional career. Apply for various positions in different pharmaceutical companies and put all your efforts in carrying out your assigned duties. Your college placement cell may help you in recruitment. With hard work and skills, you'll succeed gradually.
Since salary is very decent in this field, you can explore senior positions in your company, especially with added work experience.