Pharmacy technician trainees work in a pharmacy while working towards a pharmacy technician license or certification.
Because they still perform many of the same duties as pharmacy technicians, some states require pharmacy technician trainees to be registered with the State Board of Pharmacy, complete a background check, and pass a drug screening exam.
Becoming a pharmacy technician trainee is great for people who want to work and earn money while preparing to take their pharmacy technician certification exam.
This article will go over what pharmacy technician trainees are, license and certification requirements, average salary, and more.
What Are Pharmacy Technician Trainees?
Pharmacy technician trainees have the opportunity to work and earn a wage while practicing skills and studying to earn their pharmacy technician certification. They often perform the same tasks as regular pharmacy technicians, but work under the supervision of someone who has already earned their certification.
Pharmacy technician trainees may be responsible for tasks such as:
- Double-checking patient information against prescription orders
- Submitting insurance claims
- Accepting customer payments for medications
- Organizing pharmacy shelves
- Taking inventory of different drugs
- Keeping the storefront tidy
- Mixing compounds
During their first several shifts, trainees spend most of their time shadowing a more experienced pharmacy technician and learning about the day-to-day requirements for the job.
Towards the end of the training period, a pharmacy technician trainee should be able to perform most tasks independently and feel confident in their abilities to manage regular pharmacy technician responsibilities without assistance.
Our 4-Month Online Pharmacy Technician Program here at Stepful includes an in-person externship that includes many of the same roles that a pharmacy technician trainee would do. You can get hands-on experience to practice what you learned in the classroom before moving on to a full-time role.
Some large retail pharmacies, such as Walgreens and CVS also offer pharmacy technician training programs that include an internship, exam preparation materials, and certification fees. These companies expect trainees to stick around in a full-time role once they become certified, in which case, they’ll be given more responsibilities and a higher salary.
License and Certification Requirements for Pharmacy Technician Trainees
Even though pharmacy technician trainees work under the supervision of a certified pharmacy technician, they often need to register with the state they are training in.
This is because pharmacy technician trainees still have access to controlled substances like narcotics, work with potentially dangerous medications, and may handle compounds that require special storage and handling.
It is important to remember that registration and licensure are not the same as certification:
- Registration with the state board of pharmacy usually requires a background check and a urine drug screen.
- Certification requires completing a training program and passing a certification exam. Pharmacy technician trainees often register with their state while working towards earning their certification.
Most employers require their pharmacy technician trainees to earn their certification within 6 months of being hired. Pharmacy technician trainees must either (1) get a certain number of hours of experience or (2) complete a pharmacy technician training program before they will be eligible to take the pharmacy technician certification exam.
Each state has different requirements for pharmacy technicians and pharmacy technician trainees.
States that require trainees to register with the board of pharmacy include:
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
States that require trainees to be licensed include:
While most states do not require trainees to register or maintain a pharmacy technician license, most do require those who have completed their training to earn a certification and register.
If you live in a state that requires you to be certified, taking the PTCB’s CPhT exam is typically a great option. The PTCB certification is the most widely recognized in the nation and it is accepted in all states that require certification for their pharmacy technicians.
To become eligible for the PTCB’s CPhT exam, you must complete an approved training program or work for at least 500 hours as a pharmacy technician trainee.
Our 4-Month Online Pharmacy Technician Program here at Stepful prepares you to take the CPhT exam. Our certification rate is 85% (much higher than the national average) and we help you find a job after graduation.
Pharmacy Technician Trainee Salary
The average salary for a pharmacy technician in the United States is $37,790 which comes out to $18.17 per hour.
Since pharmacy technician trainees need more supervision and handle fewer responsibilities, they are paid less than their fully trained or certified co-workers.
According to ZipRecruiter, pharmacy technician trainees are paid around $16.79 per hour which comes out to around $34,920 annually. Pharmacy technician trainees can expect a raise once they complete their training and certification.
Typical Time You Work as a Pharmacy Technician Trainee
The typical time you work as a pharmacy technician trainee varies by state and training program.
For example, you can maintain a pharmacy technician trainee registration in Texas for as long as two years, but it cannot be renewed. While a pharmacy technician trainee license in Arizona is good for 36 months.
Most retail pharmacy training programs last about 6 months before the trainee is expected to take their certification exam and become a full-time, certified pharmacy technician.
Employers that require certification may allow you to earn your basic pharmacy technician certification first, and then give you more time to complete any advanced certifications that they require such as Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician or Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician.
What Happens When You’re Done Working as a Pharmacy Technician Trainee
Once you complete your pharmacy technician training, you can take your certification exam. Most pharmacy technician trainees take the PTCB’s CPhT exam.
To take the CPhT exam, you must create an account with PTCB and apply for certification by submitting evidence of at least 500 hours of work as a pharmacy technician trainee or completing an approved training program and paying the $129 exam fee.
After your application is approved, you can schedule your exam at a testing center or with an online proctor.
The exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions and takes most people 2 hours to complete. You will be able to see your unofficial results immediately after answering the final question. Official results will be available two to three weeks after taking your exam.
Most organizations that hire pharmacy technician trainees expect them to remain at their jobs once they become certified. If you remain at the same job after you pass your certification exam, you can expect a pay raise and to take on more responsibilities at work. In addition, your employer may want you to (and pay you to) complete more advanced certifications.
After you complete your training and earn your certification, make sure you do not let your certificate expire. The PTCB requires certified pharmacy technicians to complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their certification.