We have been getting a lot of questions about how to become a pharmacy technician. Well, the interesting thing about this career is that there are a lot of ways to become a pharmacy tech! In this article we are going to review each of the primary paths that people follow to get started in this great career. To get additional tips and strategies we interviewed a dozen techs, and you will see quotes from them describing the steps they took to becoming a pharmacy technician.
Here are the top 5 ways to become a pharmacy technician:
1 – Take pharmacy technician classes.
One great way to get started as a pharmacy technician is by signing up for classes. If you are interested in this approach, be sure to check out our information on pharmacy technician schools. To find a school in your city you can also click on the following link for a national directory of pharmacy technician programs. There are several advantages to this approach. By having this training, it will be easier to get your first job. Employers will know that you are committed to this career path, and that you have knowledge of the pharmacy world. They will still need to provide some additional on-the-job training, but you will have a great base of knowledge that will allow you to hit the ground running.
“I was living in Las Vegas and I was considering going to Pharmacy school, but wasnt sure if I would really like it. So, I decided to become a pharmacy technician first. I signed up for a 9 month training program, and then did an additional 3 month internship at a hospital. After I completed the program I was able to quickly find a job at a mail order pharmacy.”
2 – Get ANY job at a pharmacy.
Sometimes the first step is just to get your foot in the door! Stop by your local pharmacy and ask if they are hiring for any positions. Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid are almost always looking for smart, friendly people to work the cash registers. Get ANY job you can at one of your local pharmacies and then perform that job to the best of your ability. Be happy, motivated, hard-working, and friendly. Get to know the managers and pharmacists, and let them know you are interested in being a tech. They would rather hire someone on their staff that they know than take a chance on someone new.
“I started at Walgreens as a cashier and sometimes helped ring out customers in the pharmacy. Pretty soon they offered me on-the-job training as a pharmacy tech. Walgreens also paid for my pharmacy technician certification courses.”
3 – Apply with no experience.
Just because you have never worked in a pharmacy before doesn’t mean that you can’t get hired right into a pharmacy tech job. In fact, people successfully do this all the time! Busy pharmacies are constantly looking for good employees, and they will sometimes take a chance on someone who is new to the profession. Just walk up and ask if you can fill out an application. But remember, they will start judging you the moment you walk up to the counter. Make sure you dress nicely! Make sure you smile! Be confident and friendly! When you turn in the application, ask to speak with the pharmacy manager. Give them a 30-second sales pitch when you hand them the application. Let them know you are a quick learner, a hard worker, and that you love working in a fast-paced environment.
“The first job I had as the title pharmacy technician was at Kroger. The only thing I did was walk up to the counter, and told them I was interested in becoming a pharmacy technician. Then I had an interview that day, and started within about two weeks. I was first trained as a pharmacy tech by being tossed into the fire. LOL! The store I worked at was pretty busy at the time so I just had to jump in there and ask questions whenever one would arise. At first it was a lot of hard work, but looking back now it was worth it and it paid off because I learned so much at that store. It helped prepare me for my future as a pharmacy technician.”
4 – Apply with related experience.
If you have any experience in the medical field, then you have an advantage over other job candidates! When hiring pharmacy technicians, companies are eager to find people who have basic medical knowledge. Relevant jobs might include Certified Nursing Assistant, Home Health Aide, or a Medical Assistant. If you have any experience of this type, then be sure to play this up during your interview. You are used to working in a fast-paced environment and interacting with patients. You are aware of confidentiality rules and probably have some knowledge of common medications. This will all work to your advantage.
“My sales job abruptly ended when my satellite location closed. I was without a job and was required to take a good hard look at my options. I already had an active Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license, so I focused on the medical field. The anticipated growth in pharmacy jobs led me to focus my attention to becoming a pharmacy technician. I found out that technicians were needed not only in retail and mail order, but also in long- and short-term care facilities, hospitals, and clinical studies. My first technician position came from a locally owned pharmacy, and I received on-the-job training. Becoming a part of the growing pharmacy workforce was the best career and life choice I have ever made.”
5 – Use your network.
One of the best ways to get any job is with a referral. Do you know anybody who works at a pharmacy? Or anyone who works at a grocery store that has a pharmacy? Ask your parents and friends this same question. There is almost certainly a friend of a friend that you can reach out to. Just let them know you are extremely interested in working as a pharmacy technician, and that you would love the opportunity to interview for a position. A personal referral will keep your application from getting lost in the shuffle, but you will still need to sell them on yourself in the interview!
“I lost my factory job and I heard through a family friend, who is a RPh at a local grocery store, that they were looking to hire a Pharmacy Technician. I applied and got the job! I learned the position through on-the-job training.”
Hopefully this article gave you some good ideas about how to become a pharmacy technician. Follow the path that makes sense for you. Whatever approach you choose, get started now and don’t give up!