Working at drug stores of many kinds, pharmacy techs in Illinois perform under the supervision of the pharmacist to ensure that drug prescriptions are filled and clients are served. Although it is possible for men and women who have graduated from high school to prepare for this career through on-the-job training, the majority of organizations want to employ applicants who have completed a 12-month pharmacy tech certification program.

The demand for pharmacy technicians in Illinois is forecasted to grow dramatically in the coming years, so it is an appealing option for all those who are starting their careers. The 2016 Occupational Outlook Handbook released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 12% growth in new jobs for pharmacy technicians by 2026.

What does a pharmacy tech do in Illinois?

Pharmacy technicians in Illinois are employed under the supervision of a pharmacist, and are given the task of completing a number of supporting tasks that help keep the drug store working efficiently. The basic responsibilities held by most pharmacy techs are displayed below.

Basic pharmacy technician duties

  • Take care of customer and patient calls and inquiries
  • Establish and manage patient documents
  • Help pharmacist in satisfying prescriptions by measuring, packaging and labeling prescription drugs
  • Process payments for medications and insurance coverage claims
  • Maintain all inventory in the drug store

How to become a pharmacy technician in Illinois.

The process to become a pharmacy tech in Illinois can be summed-up in the next four actions.

  1. Decide if you want to become certified
  2. Once you decide to get certified, register for a PTCA-accredited training course
  3. Finish the pharmacy technician program and on-the-job training hours, as required by state
  4. Take and pass either the PTCE (PTCB) or ExCPT (NHA) Exam for certification

Step 1: Determine if you plan to get certified

Determining whether or not you plan to become certified is the very first step you’ll have to take. Regardless of what you choose, you should be aware that most facilities prefer to pick people who have gotten their certification.

Given the changing landscape in the industry, it is strongly recommended that any person who is considering a career in pharmacy pursue a certification. The remainder of the steps in this guide only matter should you want to become certified.

Step 2: Sign-up for courses accredited by the PTAC

The next step in becoming a certified pharmacy technician is to sign-up for classes that are recognized by the Pharmacy Technician Accreditation Commission (PTAC). This organization coordinates program curricula and guidelines with both Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) to ensure standardized quality in nationwide pharmacy technician schools.

The need for PTAC accreditation

Accreditation by the PTAC is regarded as essential because only students from a course approved by this organization can take one of the national certification exams.

Online pharmacy tech school

As is the situation with most distance learning offerings, online pharmacy tech programs are a popular alternative for people who are juggling more than one commitments. For people who do not live around a school that features the courses they are looking for, online classes are also an appealing alternative.

Be advised, though, that online classes still require pupils to finish their internship hours at a physical location affiliated with the program.

Step 3: Fulfill all necessary hands-on training hours and graduate from the program

Completing the accredited course you decided on in the preceding step is going to be your next order of business. The academic part can often be finished in twelve months or less, but completing the necessary internship hours (often called an “externship”) at an actual pharmacy may possibly take longer.

A lot of training courses dedicate the classroom segment of their curriculum to the content that is covered in the national certification assessments. The externship, however, will present you with the opportunity to put what you learn into use in a functioning, professional environment.

Step 4: Successfully pass the PTCE or ExCPT test

To receive a nationally-recognized pharmacy tech certification, you need to pass the PTCE or ExCPT test. Eligibility to challenge these examinations calls for you to initially graduate from a PTAC-accredited training program. You’ll earn the national credential of CPhT (Certified Pharmacy Technician) by passing either examination.

Below is a short explanation of the two assessments.

Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)

Administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, or PTCE as it’s called, is a multiple-choice assessment administered in all 50 states. The PTCE is made of 90 questions administered in a one-hour, 50-minute timed structure. Students who pass the exam receive the distinction Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).

A candidate has to be able to satisfy one of the next two requirements in order to take the exam:

  • Finished a PTAC-accredited pharmacy technician program, or
  • Obtained equivalent work experience as a pharmacy tech

ExCPT Exam

Provided by the National Healthcare Association (NHA), the ExCPT additionally awards the nationally-regarded title Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) to candidates who get a passing score. Students get two hours and 10 minutes to finish 100 multiple-choice problems.

To become eligible to challenge this exam, candidates have to satisfy the following requirements:

  • Completed a PTAC-accredited pharmacy technician program, or
  • Acquired equivalent work experience as a pharmacy technician

How much does a pharmacy technician make in Illinois?

Pharmacy tech compensation can vary based on many things, but the median salary was $31,750 in 2017 according to the latest data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data table below contains the most recent data on salary offered in Illinois.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$10.27$14.86$21.98
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL Metropolitan DivisionHourly$10.66$15.75$22.17
Champaign-Urbana, IL MSAHourly$10.46$15.08$21.06
Decatur, IL MSAHourly$10.31$14.97$19.67
Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI Metropolitan DivisionHourly$10.89$14.82$22.57
Springfield, IL MSAHourly$10.25$14.55$20.42
East Central Illinois BOSHourly$10.38$14.45$21.19
St. Louis, MO-IL MSAHourly$10.61$14.41$20.24
Cape Girardeau-Jackson, MO-IL MSAHourly$9.79$13.94$18.69
Kankakee-Bradley, IL MSAHourly$10.42$13.80$19.37
Peoria, IL MSAHourly$9.99$13.70$19.25
Rockford, IL MSAHourly$11.03$13.70$17.28
Northwest Illinois BOSHourly$9.86$13.59$19.42
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL MSAHourly$9.98$13.32$18.38
West Central Illinois BOSHourly$10.18$13.26$18.39
Danville, IL MSAHourly$9.93$11.85$20.19
South Illinois BOSHourly$9.61$11.85$17.19