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 (10-month diploma program)
Locations:  Orlando

Programs offered:

  • Pharmacy Technician
Locations:  Mesa

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 Technician
Locations:  Hyattsville

Programs offered:

  • Pharmacy Technician
Locations:  Anaheim

Programs offered:

  • Pharmacy Assistant
Locations:  Mississauga

Programs offered:

  • Diploma - Pharmacy Technician
Locations:  Tucson

Programs offered:

  • Certificate - Pharmacy Technician
Locations:  Lacey

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
Capps College Mobile AL 586
Community College of the Air Force Montgomery AL 378162
Snead State Community College Boaz AL 1579
University of Arkansas Community College - Hope Hope AR 1176
Arizona College of Allied Health Glendale AZ 141
Long Technical College Phoenix AZ 299
Pima Community College Tucson AZ 28078
Pima Medical Institute Mesa AZ 422
Pima Medical Institute Tucson AZ 364
Pima Medical Institute - Mesa Mesa AZ 71
Academy of Professional Careers San Diego CA 187
American Career College Los Angeles CA 1383
American Institute of Health Sciences Long Beach CA 90
Baldwin Park Adult & Community Education Baldwin Park CA 3295
California Paramedical and Technical College Long Beach CA 169
California Paramedical and Technical College Riverside CA 436
Cerritos College Norwalk CA 24536
Charles A. Jones Skills and Business Education Center Sacramento CA 4132
City College of San Francisco San Francisco CA 39386
El Camino College Torrance CA 24067
Foothill College Los Altos Hills CA 14193
Four - D College Colton CA 179
Hacienda La Puente Unified School District - Adult Education City Of Industry CA 2030
Healthstaff Training Institute Inc Santa Ana CA 32
Institute of Technology Inc Clovis CA 1003
North - West College - Glendale Glendale CA 80
North - West College - Pasadena Pasadena CA 73
North - West College - Pomona Pomona CA 149
North - West College - West Covina West Covina CA 187
Pasadena City College Pasadena CA 22948
Pima Medical Institute Chula Vista CA 159
Pomona Unified School District Adult and Career Education Pomona CA 971
San Bernardino Valley College San Bernardino CA 12025
San Joaquin Valley College - Visalia Visalia CA 627
Santa Ana College Santa Ana CA 27571
Silicon Valley College Fremont CA 721
Simi Valley Adult School and Career Institute Simi Valley CA 5902
Southern California International College - Brea Brea CA 111
Trinity College San Francisco CA 134
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
Valley Career College El Cajon CA No Data
Western Career College San Leandro CA 345
Western Career College Sacramento CA 574
Arapahoe Community College Littleton CO 7436
Denver Technical College Denver CO 814
Denver Technical College at Colorado Springs Colorado Springs CO 470
Front Range Community College Westminster CO 12962
Heritage College Denver CO 271
Pima Medical Institute Denver CO 288
Gateway Community College New Haven CT 4157
Brewster Technical Center Tampa FL 181
Mcfatter Technical Center Davie FL 986
Miami Dade College Miami FL 46834
National School of Technology Inc Hialeah FL 502
National School of Technology Inc Miami FL 544
Pensacola Junior College Pensacola FL 9985
Pinellas Technical Education Center Saint Petersburg FL 1232
Technical Career Institute Miami FL 309
Westside Tech Winter Garden FL 1111
Augusta Technical College Augusta GA 3265
Central Georgia Technical College Macon GA 3787
Coosa Valley Technical College Rome GA 2313
Heart of Georgia Technical College Dublin GA 1068
Northwestern Technical College Rock Spring GA 1500
Okefenokee Technical College Waycross GA 1263
Savannah Technical College Savannah GA 2048
Southwest Georgia Technical College Thomasville GA 1465
Valdosta Technical College Valdosta GA 2049
Eastern Iowa Community College District Davenport IA 6179
North Idaho College Coeur Dalene ID 4049
Black Hawk College Moline IL 6118
City Colleges of Chicago - Malcolm X College Chicago IL 8638
Rock Valley College Rockford IL 7699
South Suburban College South Holland IL 6751
William Rainey Harper College Palatine IL 15021
Wichita Area Technical College Wichita KS 3373
Ashland Technical College Ashland KY 503
Draughons Junior College Bowling Green KY 304
Gateway Community and Technical College Covington KY 1024
Bossier Parish Community College Bossier City LA 4332
Delgado Community College New Orleans LA 12784
Louisiana State University at Alexandria Alexandria LA 2386
Becker College Worcester MA 1166
Holyoke Community College Holyoke MA 5754
Mount Ida College Newton MA 1196
Baker College of Flint Flint MI 3896
Baker College of Jackson Jackson MI 1027
Baker College of Muskegon Muskegon MI 2727
Henry Ford Community College Dearborn MI 12742
Kirtland Community College Roscommon MI 1307
Mid Michigan Community College Harrison MI 2316
Oakland Community College - Bloomfield Hills Campus Bloomfield Hills MI 23188
Southwestern Michigan College Dowagiac MI 3047
St Clair County Community College Port Huron MI 3972
Washtenaw Community College Ann Arbor MI 11089
Century Community and Technical College White Bear Lake MN 6937
Duluth Business University Dultuh MN 267
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