Pharmacy Technician Schools in North Carolina
There is no national standard for the pharmacy technician profession; states have leeway in deciding how much training pharmacy technicians need and how they will demonstrate competency. North Carolina has chosen to set the bar higher than in many states — and also to allow pharmacy technicians with a high level of training more autonomy than their less educated counterparts.
Pharmacy technicians work in stores, hospitals, and care facilities; some are also employed by insurance or pharmaceutical companies. Pharmacy technicians have a surprising number of job duties, which can include assisting customers, taking prescription refill orders, compounding drugs, and maintaining computer record systems. Actual duties of course depend on the needs of the pharmacist in charge.
North Carolina pharmacy technicians may find the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists a valuable career resource.
Pharmacy Technician Registration and Certification in North Carolina
North Carolina’s pharmacy technicians must register with the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy. The application asks questions about drug and licensing history and about pharmacy technician training programs. The state mandates on-the-job training except in the case of pharmacy technicians who are already credentialed.
National certification is not mandated, but can be a job asset. The state allows certified pharmacy technicians more duties and expects somewhat greater autonomy. Currently, North Carolina recognizes only the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), though the newer certifying agency, the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT), has also applied.
Pharmacists are normally allowed to supervise only two technicians, but may be allowed to supervise three if one has national certification. PTCB-certified pharmacist technicians may also be allowed, at the discretion of the individual pharmacist, to take prescription orders by telephone when the pharmacist is on break. This is something that many states do not allow. North Carolina boasts 8,379 pharmacy technicians certified by PTCB, so obtaining pharmacy tech certification is a part of making oneself competitive within the field. Pharmacy technician certificate and related training programs can be a great asset when preparing for the certification exam as well as a valuable addition to a resume when applying for competitive pharmacy tech job openings.
North Carolina has extensive laws regarding pharmacy operations, and frequently makes changes to better serve public needs. In 2010-2011, changes are on the table which could present new opportunities for pharmacist technicians. The Board voted in March 2010 to give expanded duties to pharmacy technicians who had graduated from an associates level program. There was enough dissention, however, that the matter was put into limbo until the 2011 session. Students planning on entering pharmacy technician training programs in 2011 and beyond will want to check with their prospective schools about the status of the law, and what advantages there may be in a longer program.
Pharmacy Technician Salary and Job Outlook in North Carolina
The average pharmacy technician salary in North Carolina was $24,700 in 2007. This was $2,000 – $3,000 below the national average, but North Carolina’s cost of living is also below the norm. Actual salary is variable, and depends on work setting. Across the country, 75% of job opportunities are in retail. Grocery stores pay close to the industry average, other retail establishments slightly less. Pharmacy technicians who work for hospitals or pharmaceutical companies, on the other hand, can expect to make far more.
Externships can help students secure permanent positions in the setting that they favor. Cape Fear Community College reports that after five rotations in a variety of pharmacy settings, their graduates do well in the job market and are very frequently hired at institutions where they have put in hours. When externs do well, a representative asserts, they are remembered. The representative notes that externships serve a dual purpose: They also help candidates discover where in the industry they, the students, feel most comfortable.
Pharmacy technology is a growing industry, with a significant increase in pharmacy technician positions expected in the years through 2018. Ultimately, there are many paths to success.