Florida ranks third for hiring the largest number of pharmacy technicians — 20,060 — among all states as of May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As a pharmacy technician, you’re responsible for assisting a licensed pharmacist with pharmacy and nonpharmacy duties. Pharmacy duties typically include preparing and labeling medications, filling prescriptions and mixing medicinal drugs. You’re also responsible for maintaining pharmacy inventory and customers’ records. Although no national training standards exist for pharmacy technicians, in Florida you must meet eligibility requirements to work in the field.
Decide your pharmacy technician specialization. You can specialize in areas such as drug utilization review, prescription process and intravenous compounding, including chemotherapy.
Pick your work environment. Job opportunities depend on if you want to work directly with customers, for businesses or with patients such as in a nursing home or hospital. If you’re interested in working with the public, choose to work in retail or general pharmacies.
Graduate from a pharmacy technician training program. To become a pharmacy technician requires postsecondary education. The length of study generally depends on the degree you’re seeking.
Seek certification. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board offers the certification examination. Passing the exam provides you with the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).
Obtain a pharmacy technician position. If you completed an internship, you may obtain a job with the business you interned with after graduation.
Postsecondary programs in pharmacy technology range from six months to two years and can lead to a certificate, associate degree or diploma. Generally, the program consists of courses like pharmaceutical mathematic procedures, drug classifications and aseptic techniques.
Florida’s pharmacy technician program consists of three phases. The first phase prepares you for basic health care work. The second phase allows you to work in community-based retail pharmacies. In the last phase, you learn what you need to know to work in health care settings like mail order, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals.
In Florida, the annual wage for a pharmacy technician was $27,890 a year, as of May 2010, reports the BLS.
Although you can try to obtain a job without graduating from a postsecondary program, most employers prefer you to have training and certification. Advancement possibility and pay depends on your classification, experience, expertise and responsibilities.
A pharmacy certification isn’t mandatory to earn a job in the field. The certification, however, may assist you in obtaining a job. Earning a certification requires you to pass an examination. If you have a felony conviction or do not have a high school diploma — or equivalent — you can’t take the examination.
To keep your certification, you must have approximately 20 hours of continuing education.