Every state gets to make up there own requirements for what you need to do. The first thing you need to do is check your states requirements. To do this, Google your state’s name and board of pharmacy (eg, California Board of Pharmacy). Once you find your state board of pharmacy site, look for where it discusses pharmacy technician requirements. Another option is to find a site that has already compiled this information for you and provided links to your board of pharmacy website (my site has this done for you). The rest of this article will go over some of the common requirements seen, but remember, every state can require different things (in fact, some states do not require anything).
National Certification: Many states require some form of national certification. Many require it, some have it as one option to become a tech, others increase the pharmacist to technician ratio if the pharmacy has nationally certified techs, and other states do not mention it at all. The two most common options are the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT, but their exam is called ExCPT). When you complete national certification you have the professional designation of certified pharmacy tech (CPhT). To maintain national certification you must complete 20 hours of continuous education credits every 2 years. I recommend everyone obtain national certification, if your state does not require it, you will be more competitive when interviewing for a job.
Training Program: The most important thing you need to know is that some states require an approved training program. The approval in some states is from the board of pharmacy; in other states they accept the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) approved programs. Some states do not have a training requirement, and others allow for on-the-job training. To obtain a solid knowledge about pharmacy, I do recommend a formal training program. Campus based programs are traditionally more expensive (there is more cost to run one). There are online programs that are much lower cost, and I think are a great option if you have other commitments (another job or school). Online programs are also great if you do not live by a campus based school.
- Experiential hours, these are hours training in an actual pharmacy. Some states require a specific number of hours prior to licensure/registration.
- Age limits, most states require you to be at least 18 years of age; however, some states allow someone to train while in high school.
- High school diploma or equivalent is typically required.
- Criminal record, or lack thereof. Many states require an FBI background search, so do not lie about this. Just because you have a criminal history doesn’t mean you are out of luck. Be honest, up front, and most of all you need to put good behavior time between you and your conviction. SO, BE GOOD!
As you can see, how you become a pharmacy tech is highly dependent on your state. Once you find out your state requirements, the next thing is to make a decision and just do it (or not do it). Send me any comments or feedback, I love hearing from people and will personally respond.