According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for pharmacy technologists or pharmacy techs is expected to increase by as much as 32% through 2016, making pharmacology technology one of the most promising careers for the coming decade. The increasing demand for pharmacy technologists is brought about by many factors. The major consumers of prescription drugs, the middle-age and the elderly, are expected to increase in the coming years, spurring the need for pharmacy techs to ensure the safe intake of prescribed drugs. Additionally, the latest advances in science and medicine have brought about newer and effective drug treatment options to manage a number of medical conditions; thus, more techs are sought to fill an increasing number of prescriptions. In spite of the economic downturn, a career in pharmacy technology continues to thrive. As long as the advancements in science and technology continue to grow, the number of patients demanding improved and effective treatments and cures rises.
In addition to job security, the expanding role of pharmacy technologists in recent years has made it possible for them to specialize in various fields. Techs can seek employment in retail pharmacies, mail-order pharmacies, Internet pharmacies, physician clinics, pharmaceutical wholesalers, medical and surgical centers, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.
At present, there is no federal requirement for pharmacy techs; however, employers give more preference to certified pharmacy technologists or to those who are already enrolled in pharmacy tech schools. Pharmacy technician certifications are voluntary in most states but for career advancement, higher salaries, and better benefits and compensation, it is strongly recommended that you obtain a pharmacy tech certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, or PTCB, or the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians right after the completion of a pharmacy tech degree. Having a certification indicates that you have the basic knowledge and skills in pharmacy technology, ensuring the safety of the patients.
To be a certified pharmacy technician you must initially pass the national certification exam administered by the PTCB or ICPT. To be eligible for the examination, you must have a high school diploma or its equivalent and no record of any type of felony convictions within 5 years of your application. Additionally, you must not have a drug or a pharmacy-related conviction. After meeting the requirements, all you have to do is to pass the certification exam.
The pharmacy tech certification exam is administered through a computer. The entire examination consists of 90 multiple choice questions, focusing on the following areas: assisting pharmacists in servicing patients with prescribed medications, maintenance of medication and inventory control, and administration and management of pharmacy practice.
If you pass the exams, you earn the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician or CPhT. A pharmacy tech certification is only valid for two years; thus, certified techs must obtain a recertification. Pharmacy technician recertification requires 20 hours of continuing education every two years. An hour should be allotted to pharmacy law. The required hours of continuing education are obtained from colleges, pharmacy technologist training programs, and pharmacy associations.