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?
We found 193 schools offering pharmacy technician degree programs in the U.S.
|Valley Career College||El Cajon||CA||No Data|
|Minnesota State Community Technical College - Wadena||Wadena||MN||No Data|
|Healthstaff Training Institute Inc||Santa Ana||CA||32|
|Cleveland Institute of Dental - Medical Assistants||Lyndhurst||OH||50|
|North Texas Professional Career Institute||Dallas||TX||50|
|Pima Medical Institute - Mesa||Mesa||AZ||71|
|Delta Career Institute||Beaumont||TX||72|
|North - West College - Pasadena||Pasadena||CA||73|
|North - West College - Glendale||Glendale||CA||80|
|American Institute of Health Sciences||Long Beach||CA||90|
|Cleveland Institute of Dental - Medical Assistants||Cleveland||OH||92|
|Cleveland Institute of Dental - Medical Assistants||Mentor||OH||94|
|Fortis Institute - Forty Fort||Forty Fort||PA||99|
|American Institute of Medical - Dental Technology||Saint George||UT||100|
|Eton Technical Institute||Federal Way||WA||101|
|Southern Careers Institute Inc||San Antonio||TX||108|
|Southern California International College - Brea||Brea||CA||111|
|Bidwell Training Center Inc||Pittsburgh||PA||119|
|Trinity College||San Francisco||CA||134|
|Arizona College of Allied Health||Glendale||AZ||141|
|North - West College - Pomona||Pomona||CA||149|
|Uei College - Ontario||Ontario||CA||152|
|Uei College - San Bernardino||San Bernardino||CA||152|
|Uei College - San Diego||San Diego||CA||152|
|Uei College - Van Nuys||Van Nuys||CA||152|
|Tennessee Technology Center at Murfreesboro||Murfreesboro||TN||152|
|Draughons Junior College Inc||Nashville||TN||158|
|Pima Medical Institute||Chula Vista||CA||159|
|California Paramedical and Technical College||Long Beach||CA||169|
|Four - D College||Colton||CA||179|
|Brewster Technical Center||Tampa||FL||181|
|Academy of Professional Careers||San Diego||CA||187|
|North - West College - West Covina||West Covina||CA||187|
|Mercy College of Northwest Ohio||Toledo||OH||208|
|Carver Career Center||Charleston||WV||212|
|Duluth Business University||Dultuh||MN||267|
|Pima Medical Institute||Denver||CO||288|
|Pima Medical Institute||Seattle||WA||297|
|Long Technical College||Phoenix||AZ||299|
|Draughons Junior College||Bowling Green||KY||304|
|Draughons Junior College||Clarksville||TN||304|
|Bridgerland Applied Technology College||Logan||UT||304|
|Technical Career Institute||Miami||FL||309|
|Academy of Careers and Technology||Beckley||WV||320|
|Western Career College||San Leandro||CA||345|
|Everest College - Everett||Everett||WA||345|
|Gallia Jackson Vinton Joint Vocational School District||Rio Grande||OH||355|
|American Institute of Medical - Dental Technology||Provo||UT||360|
|Pima Medical Institute||Tucson||AZ||364|
|Pima Medical Institute||Albuquerque||NM||385|
|Allied College - Maryland Heights||Maryland Heights||MO||406|
|Pima Medical Institute||Mesa||AZ||422|
|California Paramedical and Technical College||Riverside||CA||436|
|St Louis College of Health Careers||Saint Louis||MO||443|
|Mesalands Community College||Tucumcari||NM||465|
|Denver Technical College at Colorado Springs||Colorado Springs||CO||470|
|National School of Technology Inc||Hialeah||FL||502|
|O C Collins Career Center||Chesapeake||OH||502|
|Ashland Technical College||Ashland||KY||503|
|National School of Technology Inc||Miami||FL||544|
|Western Career College||Sacramento||CA||574|
|Tennessee Technology Center at Memphis||Memphis||TN||604|
|San Joaquin Valley College - Visalia||Visalia||CA||627|
|Tennessee Technology Center at Nashville||Nashville||TN||653|
|San Antonio College of Medical and Dental Assistants - Mcallen||Mcallen||TX||680|
|South Texas Vocational Technical Institute - Mcallen||Mcallen||TX||713|
|Silicon Valley College||Fremont||CA||721|
|San Antonio College of Medical and Dental Assistants - Main||San Antonio||TX||734|
|Concorde Career College||Memphis||TN||755|
|Tennessee Technology Center at Knoxville||Knoxville||TN||779|
|Denver Technical College||Denver||CO||814|
|Career Centers of Texas - El Paso||El Paso||TX||883|
|Western Dakota Technical Institute||Rapid City||SD||966|
|Pomona Unified School District Adult and Career Education||Pomona||CA||971|
|Mcfatter Technical Center||Davie||FL||986|
|Institute of Technology Inc||Clovis||CA||1003|
|Gateway Community and Technical College||Covington||KY||1024|
|Baker College of Jackson||Jackson||MI||1027|
|Heart of Georgia Technical College||Dublin||GA||1068|
|Westside Tech||Winter Garden||FL||1111|
|University of Arkansas Community College - Hope||Hope||AR||1176|
|Mount Ida College||Newton||MA||1196|
|Ogden - Weber Applied Technology College||Ogden||UT||1231|
|Pinellas Technical Education Center||Saint Petersburg||FL||1232|
|Denmark Technical College||Denmark||SC||1240|
|Okefenokee Technical College||Waycross||GA||1263|
|Mount Aloysius College||Cresson||PA||1297|
|Kirtland Community College||Roscommon||MI||1307|
|American Career College||Los Angeles||CA||1383|
|Southwest Georgia Technical College||Thomasville||GA||1465|
|Northwestern Technical College||Rock Spring||GA||1500|
|Snead State Community College||Boaz||AL||1579|
|Technical College of the Lowcountry||Beaufort||SC||1776|
|Blue Ridge Community College||Flat Rock||NC||1826|
|Central Ohio Technical College||Newark||OH||1832|
|Southeastern Community College||Whiteville||NC||1883|
|Lamar State College - Orange||Orange||TX||1939|