Pharmacy technicians are skilled members of the pharmaceutical healthcare team. Working under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist, these allied health professionals help keep today's pharmacies running smoothly, filling prescriptions and dispensing medication to doctors and the public.
As the job responsibilities of pharmacists widen, technicians are stepping in to carry out many routine procedures on their behalf. The expanding role of the pharmacy technician is expected to drive demand at least through the end of the decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the past, this growing career required only a minimum age of 18 and a high school education. Technicians were primarily trained on the job. Although this is still true to an extent, employers increasingly expect job applicants to have formal training, whether through a certificate- or associate's degree-granting program. Additionally, many states now require the completion of an approved course of education before technicians can become licensed.
Students should look for pharmacy technician schools that are accredited by the Pharmacy Technician Accreditation Commission (PTAC). Formerly, pharmacy tech programs were accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), but PTAC accreditation will replace both beginning in late 2014.
Many pharmacy technicians sign up for year-long vocational certificate programs to enhance their prospects when applying for competitive jobs. It is a popular way to establish a basic pharmaceutical skill set on which to build in the workplace. A comprehensive program will help clarify the technician's role in the modern pharmacy. To get into a program, applicants may need to demonstrate proficiency in English communication and intermediate algebra. They may also need to pass a background check and have current immunizations.
During training, students practice the dispensing process and investigate the world of commercial drugs and the brands under which they are sold. Many programs expect graduates to demonstrate detailed knowledge of at least the top 100 brand-name and generic drugs, including what they look like and how they should be ingested by patients. Students should become familiar with the state and federal regulations that govern the dispensation of pharmaceuticals where they will practice.
Aspiring pharmacy techs master the ability to properly handle sterile products and repackage medicines without spreading disease. Aseptic techniques, clinical safety and matters of hygiene should be emphasized throughout the curriculum. Quality vocational certificate programs also give students a chance to participate in an externship involving hands-on clinical practice. Note that, in some states, pharmacy technicians must register with the state's Board of Pharmacy while in training to ensure they are qualified to interact with patients during their clinical practicum.
Coursework leading to a certificate in Pharmacy Technology includes:
After finishing training, students are free to seek state licensure and professional certification. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has information on the different state licensure laws.
What types of jobs are available to graduates of certificate-granting vocational programs?
An associate's degree is generally considered the top credential for aspiring pharmacy techs. Associate programs in pharmacy technology provide a broader scope of education that may impress prospective employers. Students at this level get the chance to practice computational skills, dive into the world of third-party insurance, and learn to operate advanced medical equipment.
After earning a degree from one of the accredited pharmacy tech schools, graduates seek state licensure or registration. This usually involves passing an exam and furnishing proof of training. Some graduates also pursue professional certification at the national level. Certification is voluntary in most states, but a professional credential is increasingly desired by employers. The best pharmacy technician programs prepare students to pass a recognized certification exam upon graduation.
A Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) has passed either the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (NPTCE) administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT) administered by the National Healthcareer Association. Applicants do not need proof of postsecondary training to be eligible for these tests, but they do need a high school diploma or GED and zero felony convictions on their record.
Associate-level courses in Pharmacy Technology might include:
What careers are accessible to pharmacy techs with an associate's degree?
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We found 193 schools offering pharmacy technician degree programs in the U.S.
|Grays Harbor College||Aberdeen||WA||1950|
|Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute||Albuquerque||NM||17265|
|Pima Medical Institute||Albuquerque||NM||385|
|Louisiana State University at Alexandria||Alexandria||LA||2386|
|Washtenaw Community College||Ann Arbor||MI||11089|
|Ashland Technical College||Ashland||KY||503|
|Augusta Technical College||Augusta||GA||3265|
|Austin Community College||Austin||TX||25735|
|Baldwin Park Adult & Community Education||Baldwin Park||CA||3295|
|Technical College of the Lowcountry||Beaufort||SC||1776|
|Delta Career Institute||Beaumont||TX||72|
|Academy of Careers and Technology||Beckley||WV||320|
|Oakland Community College - Bloomfield Hills Campus||Bloomfield Hills||MI||23188|
|Snead State Community College||Boaz||AL||1579|
|Bossier Parish Community College||Bossier City||LA||4332|
|Draughons Junior College||Bowling Green||KY||304|
|Southern California International College - Brea||Brea||CA||111|
|Trident Technical College||Charleston||SC||10246|
|Carver Career Center||Charleston||WV||212|
|Chattanooga State Technical Community College||Chattanooga||TN||7873|
|O C Collins Career Center||Chesapeake||OH||502|
|City Colleges of Chicago - Malcolm X College||Chicago||IL||8638|
|Pima Medical Institute||Chula Vista||CA||159|
|Hacienda La Puente Unified School District - Adult Education||City Of Industry||CA||2030|
|Draughons Junior College||Clarksville||TN||304|
|Cleveland Institute of Dental - Medical Assistants||Cleveland||OH||92|
|Cuyahoga Community College District||Cleveland||OH||19518|
|Lakeshore Technical College||Cleveland||WI||2742|
|Institute of Technology Inc||Clovis||CA||1003|
|North Idaho College||Coeur Dalene||ID||4049|
|Denver Technical College at Colorado Springs||Colorado Springs||CO||470|
|Four - D College||Colton||CA||179|
|Southwestern Oregon Community College||Coos Bay||OR||3326|
|Gateway Community and Technical College||Covington||KY||1024|
|Mount Aloysius College||Cresson||PA||1297|
|North Texas Professional Career Institute||Dallas||TX||50|
|Eastern Iowa Community College District||Davenport||IA||6179|
|Mcfatter Technical Center||Davie||FL||986|
|Henry Ford Community College||Dearborn||MI||12742|
|Denmark Technical College||Denmark||SC||1240|
|Denver Technical College||Denver||CO||814|
|Pima Medical Institute||Denver||CO||288|
|Southwestern Michigan College||Dowagiac||MI||3047|
|Heart of Georgia Technical College||Dublin||GA||1068|
|Duluth Business University||Dultuh||MN||267|
|Lake Superior College||Duluth||MN||3972|
|Durham Technical Community College||Durham||NC||4915|
|Middlesex County College||Edison||NJ||10398|
|Valley Career College||El Cajon||CA||No Data|
|Career Centers of Texas - El Paso||El Paso||TX||883|
|El Paso Community College||El Paso||TX||18001|
|Jones County Junior College||Ellisville||MS||4514|
|Everest College - Everett||Everett||WA||345|
|Everett Community College||Everett||WA||6102|
|Fayetteville Technical Community College||Fayetteville||NC||8310|
|Eton Technical Institute||Federal Way||WA||101|
|Minnesota State Community and Technical College||Fergus Falls||MN||2082|
|Blue Ridge Community College||Flat Rock||NC||1826|
|Baker College of Flint||Flint||MI||3896|
|Fortis Institute - Forty Fort||Forty Fort||PA||99|
|Silicon Valley College||Fremont||CA||721|
|Arizona College of Allied Health||Glendale||AZ||141|
|North - West College - Glendale||Glendale||CA||80|
|Aiken Technical College||Graniteville||SC||2268|
|Greenville Technical College||Greenville||SC||10786|
|Harrisburg Area Community College - Harrisburg||Harrisburg||PA||7572|
|Mid Michigan Community College||Harrison||MI||2316|
|National School of Technology Inc||Hialeah||FL||502|
|Holyoke Community College||Holyoke||MA||5754|
|University of Arkansas Community College - Hope||Hope||AR||1176|
|Houston Community College System||Houston||TX||40929|
|Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute||Hudson||NC||3191|
|Baker College of Jackson||Jackson||MI||1027|
|Tennessee Technology Center at Knoxville||Knoxville||TN||779|
|Clover Park Technical College||Lakewood||WA||7921|
|University of Northwestern Ohio||Lima||OH||2046|
|Arapahoe Community College||Littleton||CO||7436|
|Bridgerland Applied Technology College||Logan||UT||304|
|American Institute of Health Sciences||Long Beach||CA||90|
|California Paramedical and Technical College||Long Beach||CA||169|
|Foothill College||Los Altos Hills||CA||14193|
|American Career College||Los Angeles||CA||1383|
|Cleveland Institute of Dental - Medical Assistants||Lyndhurst||OH||50|
|Central Georgia Technical College||Macon||GA||3787|
|Madison Area Technical College||Madison||WI||14474|
|Allied College - Maryland Heights||Maryland Heights||MO||406|
|San Antonio College of Medical and Dental Assistants - Mcallen||Mcallen||TX||680|
|South Texas Vocational Technical Institute - Mcallen||Mcallen||TX||713|
|Concorde Career College||Memphis||TN||755|
|Southwest Tennessee Community College - Union Campus||Memphis||TN||12194|
|Tennessee Technology Center at Memphis||Memphis||TN||604|
|Cleveland Institute of Dental - Medical Assistants||Mentor||OH||94|
|Pima Medical Institute||Mesa||AZ||422|
|Pima Medical Institute - Mesa||Mesa||AZ||71|
|Miami Dade College||Miami||FL||46834|
|National School of Technology Inc||Miami||FL||544|
|Technical Career Institute||Miami||FL||309|