Pharmacy Technician / Assistant

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.

Degrees in Pharmacy Technology

Vocational Certificates

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:

  • Introduction to Pharmacology
  • Pharmacy Laboratory Skills
  • Medical Terminology

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?

  • Pharmacy Tech I - Inpatient
  • Medication History Technician
  • Pharmacy Technician - IV Specialist

Associate Degrees

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:

  • Medical Law & Ethics
  • Unit Dose & Medication Preparation
  • Professional Communications & HIPAA

What careers are accessible to pharmacy techs with an associate's degree?

  • Pharmacy Tech II - Outpatient
  • Pharmacy Plan Assistant
  • Pharmacy Technician Instructor

Featured Schools

Programs offered:

  • Pharmacy Technician
Locations:  Mesa

Programs offered:

  • Pharmacy Technician (10-month diploma program)
Locations:  Orlando

Programs offered:

  • Certificate - Pharmacy Technician
Locations:  Lacey

Programs offered:

  • Pharmacy Technician
Locations:  Hyattsville

Programs offered:

  • Pharmacy Technician
Locations:  Anaheim

Programs offered:

  • Pharmacy Technician (11-Month Diploma Program)
Locations:  West Covina

Programs offered:

  • Pharmacy Assistant
  • Medical-Pharmacy Assistant
Locations:  Surrey

Programs offered:

  • Pharmacy Technician
Locations:  Sylvania

Programs offered:

  • Pharmacy Assistant
Locations:  Mississauga

Programs offered:

  • Diploma - Pharmacy Technician
Locations:  Tucson

We found 193 schools offering pharmacy technician degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 193 Pharmacy Technician / Assistant Colleges in the U.S.

Pharmacy Technician Schools By Total Enrollment

Community College of the Air Force
Montgomery, AL  |  Total Enrollment: 378162

Degrees Offered: One but less than two years, Associate's
Miami Dade College
Miami, FL  |  Total Enrollment: 46834

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
Houston Community College System
Houston, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 40929

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
City College of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 39386

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
Community College of Southern Nevada
North Las Vegas, NV  |  Total Enrollment: 29905

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
Pima Community College
Tucson, AZ  |  Total Enrollment: 28078

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
Santa Ana College
Santa Ana, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 27571

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
Austin Community College
Austin, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 25735

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
Cerritos College
Norwalk, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 24536

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
El Camino College
Torrance, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 24067

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years

Browse All 193 Colleges With Pharmacy Technician Programs

Title City State Enrollment
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
Heritage College Denver CO 271
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
Capps College Mobile AL 586
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
Becker College Worcester MA 1166
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
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