Pharmacy technicians in Virginia are entry-level medical providers who assist pharmacists with filling drug prescriptions and helping clients in retail pharmacies, physicians’ offices and other healthcare facilities. Certification isn’t required in every state, yet the current trend among businesses has been in direction of just hiring individuals who have a professional credential.

Thanks to unprecedented demand for new pharmacy techs in Virginia, this profession is extremely desirable for individuals looking for an entry-level job in healthcare. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016 report forecasts that the volume of new employment opportunities for pharmacy technicians will grow by 12% by 2026.

What do pharmacy technicians do in Virginia?

The major responsibilities of the pharmacy tech in Virginia revolve around the duties which help the pharmacy service its clients and manage its inventory. Though some facilities might require additional responsibilities, the following checklist illustrates the primary function of most pharmacy techs.

Pharmacy technician duties

  • Take customer or patient calls and concerns
  • Initiate and maintain patient records
  • Support pharmacist in satisfying prescriptions by weighing, packaging and labeling medications
  • Handle payments for medications and insurance policy claims
  • Manage all inventory in the pharmacy

What is the procedure to become a pharmacy tech in Virginia?

The four-part procedure for becoming a pharmacy technician in Virginia is displayed below.

  1. Decide if you would like to get certified
  2. If you intend to get certified, sign up for a PTCA-accredited program
  3. Complete the pharmacy technician school and internship training hours, as mandated by state
  4. Pass either the PTCE (PTCB) or ExCPT (NHA) Exam for certification

Step 1: Determine whether you plan to become certified

The first thing you’ll have to do is choose if you plan to get certified. It is not mandatory to hold a certification to be able to work in every part of the country, but an ever-increasing number of organizations around the land are choosing to only employ certified individuals.

For any individual who is considering having a long-lasting career in the pharmacy business, certification is highly recommended. If you choose not to become certified, you can ignore the remainder of the steps and start searching for a job when you graduate from high school.

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

The second step in becoming eligible to work as a certified pharmacy technician is to sign-up for training courses that are accredited by the Pharmacy Technician Accreditation Commission (PTAC). Pharmacy tech courses throughout the country are governed by the PTAC, who works in combination with both the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) to standardize education in the industry all-around the country.

The value of PTAC accreditation

Considering that only trainees who complete a training course accredited by the PTAC are immediately eligible to take one of the national certification exams, it is imperative that you attend a training course that is recognized by this organization.

A look at online pharmacy tech programs

As is the case with nearly all online education options, online pharmacy tech programs are a desirable option for students who are juggling different commitments. In cases where a pupil might not live in close proximity to a campus-based program, these courses are also ideal.

To clear up a popular misconception, while online classes allow students to undertake their classroom studies through distance learning, the clinical, internship section of their training has to be completed at a physical site.

Step 3: Fulfill all required hands-on training hours and finish the program

After finding an accredited program that meets your needs, the next step is to finish it. The academic portion can frequently be finished in twelve months or less, but completing the required hands-on training hours (occasionally referred to as an “externship”) at an actual pharmacy can occasionally take longer.

Most training courses dedicate the academic part of their course of study to the material that is covered in the national certification exams. The internship, however, will provide you the opportunity to put the things you learn into practice in a live, professional setting.

Step 4: Successfully pass the PTCE or ExCPT test

There are two nationally-accepted pharmacy tech certification exams – the PTCE and ExCPT. Once you have finished a PTAC-accredited course, you’ll become eligible to sit for either of them. A passing mark on either examination will award you the title Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).

Let’s take a better look at these examinations below.

Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) is given by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), and is a multiple-choice test. The PTCE consists of 90 questions administered in a one-hour, 50-minute timed structure. Upon passing the examination, the individual earns the CPhT (Certified Pharmacy Technician) credential.

To become approved to challenge this assessment, a test taker must have either:

  • Finished a PTAC-accredited pharmacy tech training course, or
  • Acquired comparable work experience as a pharmacy tech

ExCPT Exam

Sponsored by the National Healthcare Association (NHA), the ExCPT also grants the nationally-regarded title Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) to individuals who earn a passing score. This multiple-choice test features 100 multiple-choice problems, provided in a two-hour, 10-minute format.

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

  • Finished a PTAC-approved pharmacy tech course, or
  • Gained comparable work experience as a pharmacy technician

What is the typical pharmacy technician salary in Virginia?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for a pharmacy tech in the U.S. was $31,750 as of May 2017.

Pharmacy tech salary in Virginia may differ a bit from the nation’s median, as is shown in the data table below.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$10.27$14.86$21.98
Charlottesville, VA MSAHourly$10.71$15.59$22.26
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan DivisionHourly$10.70$15.17$22.80
Winchester, VA-WV MSAHourly$9.79$14.51$21.89
Richmond, VA MSAHourly$10.21$13.93$20.84
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSAHourly$9.82$13.73$19.68
Roanoke, VA MSAHourly$10.42$13.64$18.31
Lynchburg, VA MSAHourly$10.22$13.60$19.13
Southside Virginia BOSHourly$10.21$13.44$18.73
Harrisonburg, VA MSAHourly$10.02$13.24$19.02
Northeastern Peninsulas BOSHourly$9.91$12.89$19.03
Northwestern Virginia BOSHourly$9.93$12.67$18.37
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA MSAHourly$9.90$12.20$18.16
Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA MSAHourly$9.42$12.06$17.54
Southwestern Virginia BOSHourly$7.99$10.72$16.11