Pharmacy Technician Schools in Washington

In Washington, the pharmacy technician industry is a true profession. The state has some of the highest standards in the nation for entry into the field, and it also has some of the highest wages. The industry has been regulated since 1977, when pharmacists were first required to seek board approval to use technicians in their workplace. 1977 also saw the very first rules about training. These were general and have been revised several times since.

Washington state legislature has outlined the duties of pharmacy technicians and other ancillary personnel. The state distinguishes between roles of pharmacy technicians and those of pharmacist assistants. Pharmacy assistants carry out basic jobs like typing labels, pricing, and stocking. Pharmacy technicians carry out a wider variety of non-discretionary tasks which can include measuring and mixing medications and sterile products. Although carried out under pharmacist supervision, these duties require specialized education.

Pharmacy Technician Training and Certification Requirements in Washington

The Washington State Board of Pharmacy mandates 520 hours of instruction, including eight hours devoted to pharmacy law. There are two options: formal education or on-the-job training through an employer. Pharmacies that conduct their own training must submit various information to the board including topics, teaching methods, and evaluation methods — yet another reason many pharmacies prefer candidates who are already trained.

There is an additional requirement for HIV training. The state further requires that its pharmacy technicians pass national board exams from either the ICPT or the PTCB. Pharmacy technician training programs in Washington offered online or via a campus based in Washington have proved to be beneficial for those pursuing national certification and the more competitive jobs. In addition to testing, both agencies require a background check and twenty CEs every two years.

Washington has additional educational requirements for some pharmacy technicians. Communication is an important part of the job, and so the state asks students who completed programs in other nations to demonstrate English mastery if it not their first language. Required scores are 173 on the TOEFL and 50 on the TSE.

Washington mandates further training and examinations for those who perform certain specialized duties. Technicians who prepare unit dose medications must score 99% on an exam, and those who prepare IV admixtures must score 100%. This is important because, even though pharmacists have the ultimate responsibility for checking accuracy, mistakes can be very dangerous.

Schools vary a good deal in what they offer. Some programs are at the certificate level, others at the associates. An associates can be a good option for a students who either have gaps in general education or want to transfer to a higher degree program later. Some programs provide general studies courses and even support for second language learners facing the TOEFL and the TSE. A certificate level pharmacy tech training program can often be completed in about 10-weeks and is designed to prepare students for the national certification exams.

Pharmacy Technician Salary and Job outlook in Washington

The pharmacy technician profession is a growing field. Washington currently employs about 6,900 workers, but this figure is expected to rise considerably in the years through to 2018.

Washington pharmacy technicians enjoy the third highest wages in the nation, with a mean salary of $17.63 an hour or $36,670 per year. There are some regional differences The Labor Bureau reports that the Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma metropolitan area, which employs the most workers, has an hourly wage of $18.16. Much of the state is reported in the $17- $18 per hour range. Yakima, Wenatchee, and the communities in non-metropolitan central Washington pay in the $16 – $17 an hour range.

Within metropolitan areas, those at the 75% percentile make about three to four dollars more per hour than those at the 25% percentile. Experience is a factor, of course. So is work setting. Hospital positions generally require more experience and training, but pay better, particularly at the entry level. Nationwide, there are some strong trends relating workplace with income. Average salaries for general and surgical hospitals are about $6,000 more than those in retail.

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