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Pharmacy technicians pathways and careers

Children’s Minnesota career guides

A path for pharmacy technicians at Children’s Minnesota

In addition to a comprehensive benefit and compensation package, a pharmacy career at Children’s Minnesota allows you to focus on pediatric pharmacy and provide outstanding care to kids and their families in the upper Midwest.

As a crucial part of our pharmacy team, we are committed to ensuring you have the training and support needed to succeed as a pharmacy technician. Children’s Minnesota is dedicated to our employees and has a number of initiatives to make sure our workplace culture is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

How to become a pharmacy tech

If you’ve ever wondered about a career in health care but don’t necessarily want to work in a clinical environment, a career as a pharmacy technician might be just the profession for you. Skilled pharmacy technicians provide a valuable service to patients, and the need for them continues to grow as the population ages.

A career as a pharmacy technician allows you to join the fast-growing health care industry in a variety of settings. Pharmacy departments play an essential role in accurately filling patient prescriptions and answering questions about medications. In this guide, we’ll cover pharmacy technician education requirements, the steps for how to become a pharmacy technician, and the salary and job outlook for this profession.

What does it take to become a pharmacy tech?

Becoming a pharmacy tech first starts with an interest in math, science, and medicine. Attention to detail is an important skill to have as well as the desire to be a lifelong learner. The pharmaceutical industry is continually evolving, so there’s always something new to discover.

You’ll have the opportunity to work alongside pharmacists and a range of other pharmacy professionals. In addition, there are opportunities to expand your skills and advance your career by becoming certified as a pharmacy technician.

  • Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT): nationally recognized certification given to pharmacy technicians after passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) exam, trusted by pharmacists and employers
  • Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv): advanced pharmacy technician certification recognizing experience and expertise (must have a minimum of 3 years of work experience and four extra certificate programs in addition to your CPhT)

A typical day as a pharmacy technician is fast-paced and may involve a number of different tasks, such as maintaining inventory, preparing orders, and dispensing medication to customers. One of the most valuable skills that it does take to be a pharmacy tech is attention to detail. Comfort with technology is important too; you will likely use computer software to track patient medications, dispense medications, and sell medications and other products to customers.

There are tools that help with how to work as a pharmacy tech, including tablet counting machines, liquid medication dispensers, and autoclaves for sterilization of tools. Accuracy is key if you want to become a pharmacy technician.

Is being a pharmacy tech a good career path? Job outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts pharmacy technician employment to grow a bit slower than average over the next decade. Many of the job openings are predicted to be from people retiring or transferring out of the field.

  • Estimate of Jobs available: 419,300 in 2020
  • Rate of projected job growth: 4%
  • New jobs to be added in the next 10 years: 31,700 per year
  • Fastest growing state for jobs: North Dakota

California employs the largest number of pharmacy technicians at 38,220 people. Some states like North Dakota have a more favorable outlook for this role, with an expected growth rate of just over 22 percent.

Next steps to become a pharmacy technician

What degree do you need to be a pharmacy technician? What to do to be in this profession may vary slightly from state to state, but there is a common path to success in the field. First, let’s look into some of the courses needed for pharmacy technicians, and training for pharmacy technicians.

  • Earn your high school diploma or GED: most states will require a high school diploma to be eligible for employment as a pharmacy technician.
  • Complete pharmacy technician schooling: pharmacy technician programs are accredited through the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP) and prepare you to become a pharmacy technician.
  • Do an externship with pharmacy: most education for pharmacy technicians will include an externship component so you can learn on the job from a pharmacist and other professionals.
  • Obtain your state license: you can register with your state’s Board of Pharmacy to get your license, and you’re ready to begin your career as a pharmacy technician.
  • Pass the Pharm Tech Certification Exam (PTCB): the PTCB is recognized in all 50 states and the PTCB CPhT Certification is a highly valued differentiator. PTCB CPhTs can reach higher to pursue more opportunities for career advancement, prestige in the workplace, and personal satisfaction from delivering the highest quality of care. By earning PTCB’s CPhT credential, you clear the path to achieve other specialized and advanced credentials only offered by PTCB.

How to become a Pharmacy Technician in Minnesota

If you’re wondering how you can become a pharmacy technician in Minnesota, many of the requirements are similar to those outlined above. You’ll need to complete a pharmacy technician training program recognized by the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy. In the state of Minnesota, applicants must be 18 years of age and have a high school degree or equivalent.

Technician training programs recognized by the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy:

• A pharmacy technician training program offered by a Board-approved, accredited vocational/technical institution or college that includes an externship
• ASHP accredited Technician training program
• A pharmacy technician training program provided by a branch of the United States Armed Forces or Public Health Service
• An employer-based program that includes a minimum of 240 hours in a one-year period that includes theoretical and practical instruction

Pharmacy Technician programs in Minnesota

Requirements to be a Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy Technician qualifications: skills and experience

There are several soft skills that are advantageous for a career as a pharmacy technician. Customer service skills are key, as you will be working with people of all ages and backgrounds. Additionally, communication, organization, and flexibility will come in very handy throughout your career.

Since you’ll be working alongside pharmacists and other professionals, a team attitude is also essential. Any experience working in healthcare or caring for others in general will be a great benefit, though not required. If any of the above sounds like you and you have a desire to learn about science and healthcare, a career in pharmacy is worth considering.

Do you need a degree to become a technician?

The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy does not require pharmacy technicians to have a degree. Some pharmacy technician programs are part of an Associate’s program. Whether or not you choose a school with a degree component, your pharmacy tech education should include courses on the following:

• Medical terminology
• Anatomy and physiology
• Pharmacology
• Pharmacy ethics

Do pharmacy technicians need a license?

Each state has its own rules — regarding pharmacy technicians in Minnesota, registration with the state is a requirement before you can begin working as a pharmacy technician. Keep in mind that once you do become a licensed pharmacy technician, you will need to renew your license on a regular basis. Renewal in Minnesota is required every year and will require continuing education hours, but again it varies by state.

Requirements to maintain Pharmacy Technician license and PTCB certification

The MN Board of pharmacy and PTCB requires pharmacy technicians to complete a minimum of 20 hours of approved technician continuing education (CE) every two years. Pharmacy Technician license must be renewed every year and PTCB certification must be renewed every two years.

How to get certified as a Pharmacy Technician

Obtaining your CPhT is a major step in your journey to becoming a pharmacy technician. It will show future employers your commitment to the profession. Your pharmacy technician program will prepare you for your PCTB exam and will include important coursework on understanding the body and how medications work.

Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to study for your exam and consider taking some practice tests. You must apply and schedule an appointment to take the exam with the PTCB.

Five Pharmacy Technician advanced certifications:

Once you’ve obtained your CPhT certification, there is additional coursework you can take to expand your knowledge and skills. Below are some of the extra certification offerings by the Pharmacy Technician certification board, which are a stepping stone to completing your advanced certified Pharmacy Technician certification.

Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician certification (CSPT)

This certification involves the specialty area of Compounded Sterile Preparations (CSPs) or sterile compounding. This process involves the sterile preparation of medications to avoid contamination.

Medication Therapy Management certificate (MTM)

The MTM credential is for those who demonstrate knowledge and skills in medication use and management. You will be tested on the administration of medication, accuracy, and safe patient care procedures.

Technical Product Verification certificate (TPV)

This certifies excellence in overall accuracy to safeguard customers from dispensing errors. You will demonstrate your ability to manage administration tasks, double-check other technicians, and accurately complete final verification duties.

Immunization Administration certificate

A fairly new option for pharmacy technicians, this certifies your abilities in immunization preparation, management, and administration of immunizations such as the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine.

Hazardous Drug Management Certificate

Complete this certification to show your understanding of managing hazardous drugs and maintaining safety in the workplace. Topics will include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and federal rules regarding the disposal of hazardous materials.

Pharmacy Technician Jobs at Children’s Minnesota

Pharmacy Technician options

Full-time pharmacy technician positions are a good introduction to pediatric pharmacy and allows you to work alongside Children’s MN pharmacists.

If you are looking for a more part-time position, there are positions that allow you to work days and evenings for 24 hours per week at our Minneapolis location.

View all openings

Explore pediatric career paths at Children’s Minnesota

Pharmacy technicians serve a vital role in every community by making sure patients are educated and receive the medications they need. Pediatric pharmacy is just one area you may choose to focus on within the industry. Children’s Minnesota is a nationally-recognized pediatric health system dedicated to improving children’s health. We’re committed to providing a safe space for learning and development across all our departments. If you’re ready to take the next step in your pharmacy technician career, interview with us at one of our hiring events. We can’t wait to meet you!

Liz Burwell