In early 2017, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) held a national stakeholder meeting to develop industrywide consensus on qualifications and standards for advanced practice and entry-level technicians.4 Attendees drafted recommendations for the advanced practice certification, education, entry-level requirements, and regulation of technicians. As a result of this meeting, the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the PTCB have implemented more stringent and uniform requirements regarding certification, education, and continuing education for technicians, with new standards for ACPE accreditation and PTCB certification taking effect in January 2019 and January 2020, respectively.5,6 The PTCB has also developed a second certification program focused specifically on sterile compounding.7
Pharmacy technicians are entry-level personnel that work in many different pharmacy settings within the health care industry. They assist the pharmacist as the right-hand person in many different pharmacy practice settings. One of the main duties of a pharmacy technician are to enter patient data and information into the computer system to process prescriptions. They are also responsible for dispensing commercially available medication, compounding specialty orders, and/or preparing intravenous medications.
A degree program is generally two years and results in a full academic degree, an associate’s degree (AA), that will distinguish your credentials and provide a foundation on which to build. That is, when you complete an AA, you will have a transcript of accredited courses that can apply to a full, four-year degree later on. Even if you never return to college again, having a full degree will be worthwhile. The additional courses will inform you as a person and professional, expanding your ability to communicate and understand your patients.
Clinics and animal hospitals have increased their use of vet techs to provide general care and lab work. This demand has led to a much faster than average projected job growth through 2026. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that veterinarians are employing veterinary technologists and technicians instead of veterinary assistants because of their higher skill level.
In addition, pharmacy technicians may be needed to take on a greater role in pharmacy operations because pharmacists are increasingly performing more patient care activities such as giving flu shots. Technicians will need to perform tasks such as collecting patient information, preparing more types of medications, and verifying the work of other technicians, tasks formerly done by pharmacists.
In the United States, there is no mandated regulatory agency governing the training of Pharmacy Technicians. Each state has a Board of Pharmacy which regulates the licensure of Pharmacy Technicians in their state. Licensure requirements vary widely by state. Some states require training from board-approved schools, PTCB certification, on-the-job training or no requirements at all. There are two National Examinations for the certification of Pharmacy Technicians (PTCE @ www.ptcb.org) (ExCpT @ www.nhanow.com/pharmacy-technician.aspx).
Since most certification and degree programs for pharmacy technicians require hands-on training through an externship or similar training, it’s important to determine what types of partnerships the school has secured for externships. Some schools offer externship placement as a courtesy to students, while others require students to seek out and apply for training on their own. In either situation, students are typically responsible for organizing their own transportation to the pharmacy, lab or other approved facility to complete this component of the program.
To accommodate work and family obligations, distance learning is an option for many students wishing to earn a degree in veterinary technology from home. The AVMA accredits several distance-learning courses that meet the same standards of accreditation as traditional programs and include a clinical component. Students fulfill the clinical training through sponsorship by a licensed veterinarian.
Apart from a degree in veterinary technology, veterinary technicians also need to obtain credentials from the state they work in. They also need to have strong communication skills, be well organized, and have a passion for helping animals. Most veterinary technicians work in veterinary clinics or offices, although some find work at animal shelters and zoos.
Average Americans work well into their 60s, so workers might as well have a job that’s enjoyable and a career that's fulfilling. A job with a low stress level, good work-life balance and solid prospects to improve, get promoted and earn a higher salary would make many employees happy. Here's how Veterinary Techs and Technicians job satisfaction is rated in terms of upward mobility, stress level and flexibility.
Students interested in a more comprehensive educational experience can enroll in a pharmacy technician associate degree program. Although a degree is not required to apply for entry-level positions, some students choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree so they can advance in their careers and apply for jobs as a compounding lab technician, pharmacy service technician, pharmacy implementation specialist or similar roles. Earning an associate degree can also help a student prepare for a Bachelor of Pharmacy or a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
“You have a wide variety of equipment to choose…There’s a lot of information to digest, and it’s always changing, but Ryder does a good job of keeping you up to date with the latest manual [and] factory training…We have a very vast knowledge compared to other companies and people in the diesel industry…They’re generally pushing you to obtain your training.”