A career as a pharmacy technician can be both rewarding and satisfying. In more than half of all states, you can become a pharmacy technician without taking the ExCPT exam and becoming certified, but in others, certification is required. For that reason, noncertified pharmacy technician jobs can range from full technician responsibilities to being limited to customer service duties.
Noncertified pharmacy technician jobs can vary from one pharmacy to the next. Collecting payment and answering phone calls doesn’t require specialized pharmaceutical training, so you may find yourself taking care of those duties while you train. Once trained, you’ll serve as an aide to the pharmacist on duty, which means filling orders, dispensing medication to patients and answering basic questions.
State regulations determine how much a pharmacy technician is allowed to do and whether the ExCPT exam is required for the position or not. In some states, technicians may be allowed to compound or mix prescriptions for customers, but typically, this is something the pharmacist would do. Pharmacy technicians may also be tasked with keeping track of inventory.
In states where certification isn’t required, a noncertified pharmacy tech will serve the same role as a certified technician in other states. All technicians must be licensed by the state to handle medications, but in some states, both registration and certification are required. In any area of the U.S., a new technician will likely undergo on-the-job training, but in states where certification is required, a pharmacy may agree to let you work as a trainee while you pursue certification.
Those interested in pursuing noncertified pharmacy technician jobs have two main choices when it comes to pursuing a pharmacy tech career: earn a high school degree and get on-the-job training or complete a pharmacy technician program. You can find these programs at community colleges and vocational schools.
If a noncertified pharmacy tech wants to earn certification, it’s first necessary to have a high school diploma and no restrictions from the state pharmacy board. The exam is given by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and is a 90-minute multiple choice test. There is a $129 registration fee, and you can find testing locations across the country.
One issue with becoming a certified pharmacy technician is that you typically need clinical experience to gather the information you need. If you can’t get a job because you aren’t certified, this can create a catch-22 situation. For those who can’t train while preparing for the test, there are plenty of resources to help you study.
The over-65 population has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade as the baby-boom generation reaches retirement age. By 2030, one in five U.S. adults is expected to be over the age of 65, increasing the demand for medical care and pharmaceuticals.
Years of Experience and Salary
Nationwide, the median pay for pharmacy technicians is $15.72 per hour. Salaries average $32,700 per year. Of reported salaries by drugstore chains, Walmart pays the highest, averaging $12.23 per hour, while Rite Aid pays the lowest at a median rate of $9.53 per hour.
Taking the ExCPT exam and getting a certification won’t guarantee that you’ll be at the high end of that pay range, but it can give you a larger selection of employers. Some pharmacies prefer to hire technicians with a certification even if it isn’t required where they live. You may also find that you’re more in demand and therefore able to negotiate higher pay once you’re trained on pharmacy inventory software like Omnicell.
Job Growth Trend
Pharmacies are struggling to keep up with this growth, making pharmacy techs a good job for those looking for a great career path. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 12 percent growth through 2026, which is a much faster increase than other occupations. Still, many noncertified technicians may choose to take the extra step to get certified to expand their job opportunities.