As careers in pharmacy are growing nowadays, more and more people are enrolling in this program. To become a pharmacist, one needs to work hard and get educated well. There are so many differences between pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
The major difference is, to become a pharmacist, you need to get a PharmD degree and licensure, but to become a pharmacy technician, and you don’t need a higher degree. In this article, we will discuss should you become a pharmacy technician before becoming a pharmacist.
Pharmacy Technician & Pharmacist Program
Let’s discuss both the career options in detail:
A pharmacy technician helps pharmacists to dispense medication to customers or health professionals. To become a pharmacy technician, you don’t need to go through high-level education just like you need to become a pharmacist. To become a pharmacy technician at the minimum you need to have a high school diploma degree.
In addition to the degree, you need to learn the duties of a technician through on-the-job training or may complete post-secondary education in pharmacy technology. Top pharmacy technician career options are a retail pharmacy, non-retail sales, and hospital pharmacy. The common duty in all the technician job positions is to dispense prescription medications.
The duties, responsibilities, and power of a pharmacist are more as compared to the pharmacy technician. Pharmacists dispense medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions. Pharmacists work in pharmacies, merchandise, general, drug, grocery stores, and hospitals & health care facilities. To become a pharmacist must have the Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD). Getting a degree is not just enough.
After the completion of the PharmD degree, you need to pass the licensure exams to get the pharmacist’s license. In the US, the two main examinations for pharmacy licensure are NAPLEX (The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam) and MPJE (The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam). After you pass these two exams, you will be given state-level pharmacy licensure, and become a licensed pharmacist.
Pharmacy Technician Transition To Pharmacist
When you work as a pharmacy technician, it gives you great knowledge about the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmacy technicians and Pharmacists do work next to each other in hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies; however, the certification requirement for both technicians and pharmacists are different. To become a pharmacy technician, you don’t need to go through higher education or get a PharmD degree. On the other hand, to become a pharmacist, you need to get a PharmD degree and get licensure.
Even if you have gained enough experience as a pharmacy technician and you are ready to become a pharmacist, still, you need to must finish four years of schooling to get licensure of pharmacy. To shift yourself from a pharmacy technician to a pharmacist, you need to get through formal education and get licensure.
Pharmacy School is an important part; hence make sure you choose the right college before getting admission. The PharmD program may require 4 to 6 years of education. Becoming a pharmacist after first being a pharmacy technician is a good idea because you become more prepared for pharmacy after the experience you gain with the job.
After getting admission to pharmacy school and completing it, you will also need to pass important examinations. After pharmacy school, you need to prepare for examinations so that you can get your licensure. In the US, Two examinations for licensure conducted are the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE). The exam requirements may vary depending upon the state. After passing the licensure examination, you become a licensed pharmacist.
Can A Pharmacy Assistant Become A Pharmacist?
The pharmacy assistant job position is similar to the pharmacy technician job. The duties of a pharmacy assistant are to help the pharmacist with the preparation of drugs, answering the questions of customers, updating the files of patients, processing billings, etc. The duties are very similar to a pharmacy technician.
The pharmacy assistant job position involves more clerical tasks. The only difference between these two is pharmacy technicians have a few added responsibilities and powers as compared to pharmacy assistants. They have signing authority on new and refill prescriptions.
Now, let’s discuss the main question – Can a pharmacy assistant become a pharmacist? The answer to this question is YES. Pharmacy assistant and pharmacy technician both can become a pharmacist if they meet eligibility criteria. As we know, pharmacy is the profession that requires great knowledge and education, plus it also requires a degree. Hence, no matter whether you are a pharmacy technician or a pharmacy assistant, by meeting the eligibility criteria, you can become a pharmacist.
Becoming a pharmacist after doing an assistant or technician job is a good idea because you become more prepared for the pharmacy after gaining experience from the job. You will need to complete a Doctor of Pharmacy degree to become eligible for the pharmacy licensure examination. After you complete your PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) program, you have to pass the licensure exam (NAPLEX and/or MPJE).
What are the Differences Between A Pharmacist & Pharmacy Technician?
A pharmacist is a medical professional who provides drugs to patients as per the prescription provided by the physician or a clinician. To become a pharmacist, going through formal education is very important. On the other hand, pharmacy technicians work next to the pharmacist, but they have different duties, powers and eligibility criteria.
To become a pharmacy technician, you don’t need high-level education just like a pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists. The major duties and responsibilities of pharmacy technicians are related to handling aspects of the prescription fulfillment process and assisting the pharmacist with routine operations.
If you want to become a pharmacist, you must have a Doctor of Pharmacy or a PharmD degree. To get a PharmD degree, you have to complete two years of the undergraduate program and earn a passing score in the PCAT examination. After the completion of two years of the undergraduate program, you can start a four-year pharmacy program.
The time duration of the pharmacy program could vary from college to college. Some colleges have a four-year program while some have a six-year program. And, once you complete your four-year or six-year PharmD program, you need to pass the pharmacy licensure examination. After passing the licensure exam, you become a certified pharmacist.
So, there are so many differences between both pharmacist and pharmacy technician job positions. If you can’t do pharmacy school due to some reasons, you can do the technician job and gain some experience.
Top Pharmacy Technician Career Options
A pharmacy technician is responsible for various tasks. There are different options available if we think of the pharmacy technician job position as a career. Here are top pharmacy technician career options:
1. Retail Pharmacy
The top career option in a pharmacy technician is a retail pharmacy. Retail pharmacies can range from full-service, independent pharmacies, chains, and department stores. This is the pharmacy technician career option in which you will have quite more interaction with the public, and you will be providing customer services by fielding their questions, answering their phone calls, and checking out the customers’ prescriptions.
2. Non-Retail Sales
The pharmacy technician also works in different non-retail pharmacies. This is the type of pharmacy which is not open to the public; it means there are no retail sales included. Non-retail sales include mail-order, internet-based dispensaries, prescriptions filling for consumers across a particular geographic area.
3. Hospital Pharmacy
With the hospital pharmacy, you can get a great career option as a pharmacy technician. The duties here are very much similar to other settings, like dispensing prescriptions, inventory control, etc. In the hospital pharmacy, you get great opportunities for career advancement as it requires so many skills in a pharmacy technician.
Other career options for pharmacy technicians are Long-term care, Education, Administration, and Military. All of these require pharmacy technicians.
So, these are the top career options available for pharmacy technicians.
Is Pharmacy Tech A Good Career?
Are you not sure is pharmacy tech is a good career for you? This will help you:
A pharmacy technician helps pharmacists to dispense medication to customers or health professionals. To become a pharmacy technician, you don’t need to go through high-level education just like you need to become a pharmacist. To become a pharmacy technician you need at the minimum to have a high school diploma or equivalent (GED). A pharmacy technician works under the supervision of a pharmacist. Technician work under the pharmacist to help out in various administrative tasks like filling prescriptions, communicating with patients, etc.
A pharmacy technician is truly a good career. In this career, you have a well-paying job, flexible working hours, and requirement of minimal formal education. Among various advantages of a pharmacy technician career, the best one is it requires minimal formal education. Unlike pharmacists, you do not have to get a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, nor you have to pass licensure exams.
Its less formal education requirements make it a great career option. This is a stable career option that has great employment opportunities and higher demand. You can even switch from your pharmacy technician job position to a pharmacist. Switching from technician to the pharmacist is a great way to boost your career and increase the pay. Getting the pharmacist degree after doing a pharmacy technician job help you understand more precisely as you have already worked under the supervision of a pharmacist.
In short, a pharmacy technician can be a good career choice. In this career path, there is no requirement for a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree or any other high-level education.
Do You Need To Go To Pharmacy Tech School?
No, you do not need to go to the pharmacy technician school. To become a pharmacist technician, you don’t need high-level education degrees or a PharmD degree. Completing the post-secondary education program is optional to become a technician. Doing post-secondary education adds up to your resume.
To become a pharmacy technician, you need to complete on-the-job training. When you complete any tech program, mostly, it allows students to gain clinical experience. On-the-job training experience requirement is based on state laws. Some states have no requirements for pharmacy technicians, some states with minimal requirements, and some states with requirements for pharmacy technicians.
Once you get on-the-job training experience, the next thing is to get certified. Again, the certification is also based on state laws. Every state does not require certification. However, it is advisable to get the certification. You need to get certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). PTCB applicants are required to pass an examination while NHA applicants must complete a training program or need to have at least one year of experience in a pharmacy technician.
Whether you should become a pharmacy technician before a pharmacist is subjective. However, it is a good idea to become a pharmacy technician first and then becoming a pharmacist. The best thing about becoming a pharmacy technician is that it requires very minimal formal education. On the other hand, to become a licensed pharmacist, you need to invest your time, money, and energy.
A pharmacy technician helps pharmacists to dispense medication to customers or health professionals. To become a pharmacy technician, you don’t need to go through high-level education just like you need to become a pharmacist. To become a pharmacy technician you need to have a high school diploma or something like a GED. Pharmacists dispense medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions. Pharmacists work in pharmacies, merchandise, general, drug, grocery stores, and hospitals & health care facilities. To become a pharmacist must have the Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD). Getting a degree is not just enough.
You can gain experience from the pharmacy technician job position and then switch to the pharmacist. As you will have already gained good experience from a technician job, your study for PharmD becomes much easier. So, it is a good idea if you are planning to become a technician before a pharmacist.