Working at drug stores of nearly all kinds, pharmacy technicians in Pennsylvania work under the supervision of the pharmacist to assure that prescriptions are filled and customers are served. Although it can be possible for those individuals with a high school diploma to learn about this job through on-the-job training, the majority of employers would rather hire applicants who have finished a one-year pharmacy technician certification training program.

Thanks to unprecedented demand for new pharmacy technicians in Pennsylvania, this occupation is quite desirable among people who want an entry-level job in healthcare. The 2016 Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 12% growth in new opportunities for pharmacy techs through 2026.

What does a pharmacy technician do in Pennsylvania?

Pharmacy technicians in Pennsylvania are employed under the guidance of a pharmacist, and are responsible for completing a number of support duties that help in keeping the pharmacy running smoothly. The typical duties held by the majority of pharmacy technicians are listed below.

Typical pharmacy tech duties

  • Manage customer or patient calls and concerns
  • Establish and manage patient records
  • Support pharmacist in filling prescriptions by weighing, packaging and labeling medicines
  • Process payments for prescriptions and insurance coverage claims
  • Manage all inventory in the pharmacy

The steps to becoming a pharmacy technician in Pennsylvania

The certification process to become a pharmacy technician in Pennsylvania can be summed-up in the following four steps.

  1. Determine whether you want to become certified
  2. If you intend to become certified, register for a PTCA-authorized training course
  3. Complete the pharmacy tech program and on-the-job training hours, as required by state
  4. Take and pass either the PTCE (PTCB) or ExCPT (NHA) Examination for official certification

Step 1: Decide if you want to become certified

The very first thing you’ll want to do is determine whether or not you would like to become certified. Becoming certified isn’t a compulsory requirement for employment in every state, but it does provide quite a few benefits and advantages.

With that being the case, it’s highly recommended that you pursue certification if you’re set on launching a career in pharmacy. If you choose not to become certified, you may skip the remaining steps and start searching for a position when you complete high school.

Step 2: Sign-up for a PTAC-approved training course

The next step in becoming a certified pharmacy technician is to register for classes that are accredited by the Pharmacy Technician Accreditation Commission (PTAC). Pharmacy tech programs around the nation are regulated by the PTAC, who works in partnership with both Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) to standardize instruction in the industry across the country.

What’s PTAC accreditation?

Accreditation by the PTAC is considered essential because only students from a school approved by this body can take either of the national certification exams.

Online pharmacy tech school

A desirable alternative to campus-based programs, pharmacy tech classes online give students the versatility to attend class and finish their education based on their own schedules. In cases where a student may not live in close proximity to a school, these courses are also ideal.

Although it’s quite possible to complete the academic portion of a course online, it’ll still be necessary to finish the hands-on training component in-person at a specified site.

Step 3: Graduate from training program and necessary internship hours

Once you’ve found an accredited course that satisfies your needs, the next step is to complete it. The classroom and hands-on portions of the typical course can be completed in 12 months or less.

Most training courses devote the classroom portion of their syllabus to the content that will probably be covered in the national certification tests. The externship, on the other hand, will provide you the chance to put what you learn into use in a functioning, professional environment.

Step 4: Pass the PTCE or ExCPT Certification Exam

The PTCE and ExCPT are assessments that grant nationally-accepted pharmacy technician certifications. Eligibility to challenge these exams requires you to first complete a PTAC-accredited program. A passing score on either examination will give you the title Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).

Here is a short explanation of both assessments.

Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)

Administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, or PTCE as it is known, is a multiple-choice exam administered throughout the country. The PTCE contains 90 questions offered in a one-hour, 50-minute timed format. A passing mark on the exam gives the student the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) certification.

A candidate has to be able to satisfy one of the following two criteria to be able to take the test:

  • Graduated from a PTAC-accredited pharmacy technician training program, or
  • Acquired comparable work experience as a pharmacy technician

ExCPT Exam

Provided by the National Healthcare Association (NHA), the ExCPT Exam also grants the nationally-regarded title Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) to people who get a passing score. There are 100 multiple-choice problems on this two-hour, 10-minute timed exam.

Being eligible for this assessment additionally relies on the candidate having either:

  • Finished a PTAC-approved pharmacy technician program, or
  • Acquired comparable work experience as a pharmacy tech

Pharmacy technician pay in Pennsylvania

Pharmacy tech pay fluctuates based upon many variables, but the median wage was $31,750 in 2017 per the current information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Pharmacy tech pay in Pennsylvania varies a bit from the national average, as is displayed in the data table below.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$10.27$14.86$21.98
Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$10.27$15.46$22.87
Newark-Union, NJ-PA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$10.75$15.34$23.25
Lebanon, PA MSAHourly$9.56$14.93$24.36
Johnstown, PA MSAHourly$9.84$13.87$18.81
Erie, PA MSAHourly$10.15$13.78$19.77
Lancaster, PA MSAHourly$10.06$13.52$18.78
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, PA MSAHourly$9.01$13.33$19.77
Altoona, PA MSAHourly$9.98$13.28$20.79
Far Western Pennsylvania BOSHourly$9.16$13.17$17.90
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA MSAHourly$9.34$13.12$20.32
State College, PA MSAHourly$9.65$12.95$17.95
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ MSAHourly$9.32$12.87$18.95
Northeastern Pennsylvania BOSHourly$8.54$12.81$17.99
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA MSAHourly$9.64$12.72$17.17
York-Hanover, PA MSAHourly$9.46$12.71$20.41
Pittsburgh, PA MSAHourly$8.88$12.65$17.81
Williamsport, PA MSAHourly$9.52$11.94$17.69
Reading, PA MSAHourly$8.76$11.74$17.53
West Central Pennsylvania BOSHourly$9.34$11.49$17.87