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 31% between 2008 to 2018, 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 still not sure if you want to pursue this field, then you need to introspect on your decision again. Remember, you must be interested in this field 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 still require them to register with their respective state board of pharmacy. Moreover, getting certifications from the 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 100 MCQs. 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.