Pharmacy Technician Schools in Texas
Texas supports having a single standard for the certification and licensing of pharmacy technicians. In May 2010, Texas awarded the nation’s oldest credentialing agency, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, status as sole certifying agency within state borders. This legislation is the latest in a series of rules designed to make standards for pharmacy technicians both more rigorous and more consistent. In 1995, in fact, Texas became the first state to require a competency exam. The state began mandating pharmacy technician certification in 2001, at a time when few other states did.
Texas has good reason for its legislature. The pharmacy industry depends on quality pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of highly trained pharmacists to carry out many day to day pharmacy duties. While customer service is a big part of the job in some settings, other duties require more field-specific knowledge. Pharmacy technicians may reconstitute or mix medications, load automatic dispensing machines, and even prepare sterile solutions.
Pharmacy Technician Licensure and Certification in Texas
Pharmacy technicians in Texas must take a certifying exam through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. The test assesses competency in pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy law, and various pharmacy technician duties, including some that apply only to hospital and medical settings. Pharmacies in rural counties may request exemption from pharmacy technician certification rules, providing they can furnish adequate documentation of hardship. It is clear to see, though, how certification can be an employment advantage.
The state has also mandated on-the-job training, and outlined, in detail, what must be covered. Due to job shortages in some areas, Texas law has been amended to allow people to work as pharmacy technicians in training for up to two years while completing requirements. There is no requirement for a particular pharmacy technician educational program, or for that matter, for formal education beyond high school, but the website of the Texas Board of Pharmacy encourages pharmacy technician trainees to consider such programs; it notes that many find the programs useful. In Texas, those who compound sterile preparations must take a 40 hour course. There are many options; a person can find IV certification programs online and in more traditional settings.
Texas does not require licensed technicians to maintain their PTCB certification, but it does recommend it. There are actually a number of similarities between the steps needed to maintain state licensure and those need to maintain PTCB certification. Texas requires 20 units of continuing education, the same as the PTCB, and will do CE audits for those not currently certified. Since pharmacy technician certification is relatively inexpensive, there are few reasons not to keep it current.
Pharmacy Technician Salary and Job outlook in Texas
One advantage to formal pharmacy technician training programs is that they can provide hiring advantages later on. A representative of El Paso Community College states that those who complete the program are often hired at the very establishments where they have externed. El Paso places each student into both a retail and hospital setting for work experience. Across the nation, hospitals have more rigorous training demands, but also pay better.
The average salary for a pharmacy technician in Texas was $27,750 in 2009; this was comparable to the national average. Actual earnings depend on experience and work setting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released data about average hourly rates for those working in different settings. Health and personal care stores, the largest employers nationwide, pay about $13.26 per hour. Grocery stores average $13.76.
When an employee breaks into a hospital pharmacy technician position, there is an increase of approximately $2 per hour. Pharmaceutical companies pay even better, as do some specialty hospitals. For some pharmacy technicians, compounding certification can be a route to a more lucrative position. Payscale reports that hourly wages for compounding pharmacy technicians in Texas range from $11.79 to $16.06.