Pharmacy technicians in Washington are entry-level healthcare professionals who help pharmacists with completing prescriptions and helping clients in retail drug stores, doctors’ offices and hospitals. A number of technicians can become employed even if they are not certified, but this is becoming unusual as the vast majority of organizations now would rather hire only individuals who are graduates of an accredited program.

Due to record demand for new pharmacy techs in Washington, this profession is quite desirable among individuals who want an entry-level job in the medical field. The 2016 Occupational Outlook Handbook released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 12% growth in new positions for pharmacy technicians through 2026.

What does a pharmacy technician do in Washington?

Pharmacy technicians in Washington are employed under the supervision of a pharmacist, and are given the task of completing a variety of support duties that assist in keeping the drug store operating smoothly. While some facilities may require even more tasks, the following checklist shows the primary role of most pharmacy technicians.

Pharmacy technician responsibilities

  • Take care of client and patient calls and inquiries
  • Create and maintain patient records
  • Help pharmacist in satisfying prescriptions by weighing, packaging and labeling medications
  • Handle payments for prescription medications and insurance policy claims
  • Manage all inventory in the local drugstore

What are the steps to become a pharmacy technician in Washington?

The process for becoming a pharmacy technician in Washington may be summarized in the following four steps.

  1. Determine whether you plan to become certified
  2. If you should decide to become certified, enroll in a PTCA-accredited training program
  3. Complete the pharmacy tech class and hands-on training hours, as mandated by state
  4. Pass either the PTCE (PTCB) or ExCPT (NHA) Exam for official certification

Step 1: Determine whether you plan to get certified

Your very first step towards becoming a pharmacy tech is deciding if you’re planning to get certified. Holding a certification isn’t a compulsory condition to work in all 50 states, but it does supply a lot of benefits and advantages.

With that being the case, it is highly suggested that you get a certification if you are considering launching a career in the pharmacy industry. The other steps in this guide only matter if you want to get certified.

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

If you have decided to earn your professional certification, the next thing is to register for a pharmacy technician training program that is accredited by the Pharmacy Technician Accreditation Commission (PTAC). Pharmacy technician programs throughout the country are governed by the PTAC, who works in partnership with both the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) to standardize education in the trade around the nation.

Why PTAC accreditation is important

Since only individuals who graduate from a training program approved by the PTAC are immediately eligible to take either of the national certification exams, it really is imperative that you complete a training course that is accredited by this organization.

A look at online pharmacy tech programs

A popular alternative to on-campus programs, pharmacy tech classes online provide college students the convenience to attend class and finish their education per their own schedules. These classes may also be great for individuals who don’t live close to a school that provides pharmacy tech education.

Be conscious, though, that online classes still call for pupils to complete their internship hours at a actual physical site affiliated with the school.

Step 3: Complete training course and necessary hands-on training hours

After finding an accredited program that meets your requirements, the next step is to complete it. The academic and internship segments of the traditional program can be completed in twelve months or less.

Most training courses devote the academic segment of their curriculum to the subject matter that will probably be included in the national certification tests. In regards to the hands-on portion of the course, this is when students get hands-on experience in a functioning pharmacy setting.

Step 4: Successfully pass the PTCE or ExCPT exam

There are two nationally-recognized pharmacy tech certification tests – the PTCE and ExCPT. Once you’ve graduated from a PTAC-accredited program, you will be eligible to sit for either one of them. You will acquire the national credential of CPhT (Certified Pharmacy Technician) by passing either examination.

We take a deeper look at these assessments below.

Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)

One of the two national examinations is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), which is a multiple-choice examination administered all over the country. The PTCE is made of 90 questions given in a one-hour, 50-minute timed structure. After passing the examination, the student obtains the CPhT (Certified Pharmacy Technician) credential.

A candidate has to be able to satisfy the following two prerequisites to be able to take the exam:

  • Completed a PTAC-approved pharmacy tech program, or
  • Obtained comparable work experience as a pharmacy tech

ExCPT Exam

Provided by the National Healthcare Association (NHA), the ExCPT Exam also awards the nationally-recognized title Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) to students who earn a passing mark. There are 100 multiple-choice questions on this two-hour, 10-minute timed test.

Eligibility for this assessment additionally is based on the candidate having either:

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

Pharmacy technician pay in Washington

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly salary for a pharmacy technician in the U.S. was $31,750 as of May 2017.

The table below features the latest numbers on salary available in Washington.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$10.27$14.86$21.98
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA MSAHourly$16.08$21.62$26.83
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$15.76$21.02$27.09
Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA MSAHourly$15.22$20.58$24.47
Tacoma, WA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$15.44$20.32$25.19
Bellingham, WA MSAHourly$13.64$20.18$24.24
Spokane, WA MSAHourly$15.30$19.88$24.65
Northwestern Washington BOSHourly$15.89$19.73$24.39
Longview, WA MSAHourly$15.26$19.37$24.74
Olympia, WA MSAHourly$14.41$19.08$25.01
Southwestern Washington BOSHourly$14.81$18.88$25.42
Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, WA MSAHourly$15.15$18.83$45.65
Wenatchee-East Wenatchee, WA MSAHourly$14.84$18.66$24.37
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA MSAHourly$14.32$18.43$23.68
Eastern Washington BOSHourly$13.33$18.29$24.56
Yakima, WA MSAHourly$11.27$17.24$22.87
Lewiston, ID-WA MSAHourly$10.67$15.99$22.87
Central Washington BOSHourly$10.43$14.67$22.30