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:

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
Mcfatter Technical Center Davie FL 986
Mercy College of Northwest Ohio Toledo OH 208
Mesalands Community College Tucumcari NM 465
Miami Dade College Miami FL 46834
Mid Michigan Community College Harrison MI 2316
Middlesex County College Edison NJ 10398
Midlands Technical College West Columbia SC 9702
Milwaukee Area Technical College Milwaukee WI 14296
Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls MN 2082
Minnesota State Community Technical College - Wadena Wadena MN No Data
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Perkinston MS 8768
Mount Aloysius College Cresson PA 1297
Mount Ida College Newton MA 1196
Nash Community College Rocky Mount NC 2150
National School of Technology Inc Hialeah FL 502
National School of Technology Inc Miami FL 544
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
North Dakota State College of Science Wahpeton ND 2425
North Idaho College Coeur Dalene ID 4049
North Texas Professional Career Institute Dallas TX 50
Northwestern Technical College Rock Spring GA 1500
O C Collins Career Center Chesapeake OH 502
Oakland Community College - Bloomfield Hills Campus Bloomfield Hills MI 23188
Ogden - Weber Applied Technology College Ogden UT 1231
Okefenokee Technical College Waycross GA 1263
Pasadena City College Pasadena CA 22948
Pensacola Junior College Pensacola FL 9985
Pima Community College Tucson AZ 28078
Pima Medical Institute Mesa AZ 422
Pima Medical Institute Tucson AZ 364
Pima Medical Institute Chula Vista CA 159
Pima Medical Institute Denver CO 288
Pima Medical Institute Albuquerque NM 385
Pima Medical Institute Seattle WA 297
Pima Medical Institute - Mesa Mesa AZ 71
Pinellas Technical Education Center Saint Petersburg FL 1232
Pomona Unified School District Adult and Career Education Pomona CA 971
Renton Technical College Renton WA 5065
Rochester Community and Technical College Rochester MN 4778
Rock Valley College Rockford IL 7699
San Antonio College of Medical and Dental Assistants - Main San Antonio TX 734
San Antonio College of Medical and Dental Assistants - Mcallen Mcallen TX 680
San Bernardino Valley College San Bernardino CA 12025
San Joaquin Valley College - Visalia Visalia CA 627
Santa Ana College Santa Ana CA 27571
Savannah Technical College Savannah GA 2048
Seattle Community College - North Campus Seattle WA 5847
Silicon Valley College Fremont CA 721
Simi Valley Adult School and Career Institute Simi Valley CA 5902
Snead State Community College Boaz AL 1579
South Suburban College South Holland IL 6751
South Texas Vocational Technical Institute - Mcallen Mcallen TX 713
Southeastern Community College Whiteville NC 1883
Southern California International College - Brea Brea CA 111
Southern Careers Institute Inc San Antonio TX 108
Southwest Georgia Technical College Thomasville GA 1465
Southwest Tennessee Community College - Union Campus Memphis TN 12194
Southwestern Michigan College Dowagiac MI 3047
Southwestern Oregon Community College Coos Bay OR 3326
Spartanburg Technical College Spartanburg SC 3030
Spokane Community College Spokane WA 7767
St Clair County Community College Port Huron MI 3972
St Louis College of Health Careers Saint Louis MO 443
Tacoma Community College Tacoma WA 5302
Technical Career Institute Miami FL 309
Technical College of the Lowcountry Beaufort SC 1776
Tennessee Technology Center at Knoxville Knoxville TN 779
Tennessee Technology Center at Memphis Memphis TN 604
Tennessee Technology Center at Murfreesboro Murfreesboro TN 152
Tennessee Technology Center at Nashville Nashville TN 653
Trident Technical College Charleston SC 10246
Trinity College San Francisco CA 134
Tulsa Community College Tulsa OK 16270
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
University of Arkansas Community College - Hope Hope AR 1176
University of Northwestern Ohio Lima OH 2046
Valdosta Technical College Valdosta GA 2049
Valley Career College El Cajon CA No Data
Wake Technical Community College Raleigh NC 9654
Walters State Community College Morristown TN 6163
Washtenaw Community College Ann Arbor MI 11089
Western Career College San Leandro CA 345
Western Career College Sacramento CA 574
Western Dakota Technical Institute Rapid City SD 966
Westside Tech Winter Garden FL 1111
Wichita Area Technical College Wichita KS 3373
William Rainey Harper College Palatine IL 15021
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