How to Become a Nuclear Pharmacy Technician

How to Become a Nuclear Pharmacy Technician

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Whether you’re a seasoned pro in the pharmacy tech game, or just embarking on your career, it pays to know your options.

Like, what areas can a talented pharmacy technician specialize in?

And while there are plenty of options to choose from, today we are going to look at one very interesting niche in particular. 

That’s right, we’re going to explore how you can become a nuclear pharmacy technician.

But before we get started, it’s a good idea to establish what nuclear pharmacy actually is. So, buckle up while we get started:

What is a nuclear pharmacy?

When you hear the word ‘nuclear’ you might automatically think of power plants. You might even think of a certain Homer Simpson, right?

But we’re not here to talk about cartoon moguls or rumors of three-eyed fish. No, nuclear pharmacy has very little to do with cartoons. Nor does it have much to do with the generation of energy. 

Instead, nuclear pharmacy refers to a class of drugs that are known collectively as radiopharmaceuticals.

Radiopharmaceuticals are a wide range of pharmaceuticals that are used to treat and diagnose many different conditions.

So, what do they have in common? 

Well, all radiopharmaceuticals have radioactive isotopes. This means that they are radioactive and must be handled with extreme care.

OK, so what is a nuclear pharmacy technician, and what do they do? Let’s find out:

What is a nuclear pharmacy technician?

A nuclear pharmacy tech is a qualified individual who is responsible for supporting the work of a registered pharmacist. 

Now, while this might sound like the job description of any other pharmacy tech, there are some key differences.

You see, while a general pharmacy tech might spend their days filling all kinds of prescriptions and dealing with customers, a nuclear pharmacy tech’s work is a little more specialized.

And that’s because they spend much of their time mixing radiopharmaceuticals. According to their registered pharmacist’s instructions, of course. And because of the nature of radiopharmaceuticals, this is very careful work indeed.

So, what kinds of pharmaceuticals can a nuclear pharmacist expect to prepare? Let’s take a look:

What type of pharmaceuticals does a nuclear pharmacy technician prepare?

OK, as we mentioned, radiopharmaceuticals are used to both diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. And there are a heck of a lot of different radiopharmaceuticals in use in the US today.

Just a few examples of the drugs a nuclear pharmacy tech might come into contact with are:

As you can see, the work of a nuclear pharmacy technician is far-reaching and it’s no surprise that so many people find it rewarding work!

Now, speaking of rewards, how much does a career as a nuclear pharmacy tech pay?

What is the salary for a nuclear pharmacy technician?

Hey, we get it: it would be great to work purely for the reward of helping others, but we’ve all got bills to pay. Plus, a vacation once in a while wouldn’t go amiss, right?

And that means that, unless you’re sitting on a hefty amount of savings, it’s a good idea to consider salary before you commit to the fascinating world of nuclear pharmacology.

OK, so what does a career as a nuclear pharmacy tech pay?

Well, with an average hourly rate of $17.17 an hour, you can expect to make around $35,713.6 per year, if you work a 40-hour week.

Right, so now we know what a nuclear pharmacy tech is, and we know how much they get paid. But how do you become one?

Let’s find out:

Nuclear pharmacy technician certification: What do you need?

OK, I’m going to level with you, ‘nuclear pharmacy technician’ is a relatively new job role. And that means that regulations on who can practice aren’t widely specified.

In fact, in most states, the guidelines for who can work as a nuclear pharmacy tech are the same as those set for regular technicians. 

And this means that your first step towards a career as a nuclear tech is to sit your PTCB exam. 

Luckily, our PTCB hero study guide has everything you need to pass first time!

Of course, the pharmacy world is always changing, so be sure to look into the local state regulations on radiopharmaceuticals and nuclear medicine to be sure you’re meeting all requirements.

Now, just because you won’t necessarily need any further qualifications in order to work as a nuclear pharmacy tech, doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to help in securing a job:

How to get training to become a nuclear pharmacy technician

Before applying for your first role as a nuclear pharmacy technician, it’s a good idea to get some experience as a regular pharmacy technician under your belt. 

This will provide you with the opportunity to learn on the job and gain valuable transferable skills, especially if you choose a hospital setting where preparing drugs is likely to make up more of your duties.

Then, when applying for nuclear pharmacy technician roles, look for positions that offer training within the role.

OK, so you’re sold on a career as a nuclear pharmacy tech? Great! 

So how long will it be before you’re busy working with radioactive drugs?

Let’s take a look:

How long does it take to become a nuclear pharmacy technician?

The length of time it will take to become a nuclear pharmacy technician will vary depending on a couple of factors.

Firstly, the length of time it takes you to pass your PTCB exam. 

So, how long will that take?

Well, we recommend that you give yourself at least a month to prepare for your exam. But it can be done in more or less time depending on your individual circumstances.

Want to find out how prepared you are for your exam, try our free practice test now!

Once you’ve passed your exam, the time it will take depends on how quickly you can build relevant experience and secure that first job. 

This will depend partly on the number of opportunities available in your area, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t find the perfect role straight away.

Good luck in securing that fantastic new career!