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.
|William Rainey Harper College||Palatine||IL||15021|
|Wichita Area Technical College||Wichita||KS||3373|
|Westside Tech||Winter Garden||FL||1111|
|Western Dakota Technical Institute||Rapid City||SD||966|
|Western Career College||San Leandro||CA||345|
|Western Career College||Sacramento||CA||574|
|Washtenaw Community College||Ann Arbor||MI||11089|
|Walters State Community College||Morristown||TN||6163|
|Wake Technical Community College||Raleigh||NC||9654|
|Valley Career College||El Cajon||CA||No Data|
|Valdosta Technical College||Valdosta||GA||2049|
|University of Northwestern Ohio||Lima||OH||2046|
|University of Arkansas Community College - Hope||Hope||AR||1176|
|Uei College - Van Nuys||Van Nuys||CA||152|
|Uei College - San Diego||San Diego||CA||152|
|Uei College - San Bernardino||San Bernardino||CA||152|
|Uei College - Ontario||Ontario||CA||152|
|Tulsa Community College||Tulsa||OK||16270|
|Trinity College||San Francisco||CA||134|
|Trident Technical College||Charleston||SC||10246|
|Tennessee Technology Center at Nashville||Nashville||TN||653|
|Tennessee Technology Center at Murfreesboro||Murfreesboro||TN||152|
|Tennessee Technology Center at Memphis||Memphis||TN||604|
|Tennessee Technology Center at Knoxville||Knoxville||TN||779|
|Technical College of the Lowcountry||Beaufort||SC||1776|
|Technical Career Institute||Miami||FL||309|
|Tacoma Community College||Tacoma||WA||5302|
|St Louis College of Health Careers||Saint Louis||MO||443|
|St Clair County Community College||Port Huron||MI||3972|
|Spokane Community College||Spokane||WA||7767|
|Spartanburg Technical College||Spartanburg||SC||3030|
|Southwestern Oregon Community College||Coos Bay||OR||3326|
|Southwestern Michigan College||Dowagiac||MI||3047|
|Southwest Tennessee Community College - Union Campus||Memphis||TN||12194|
|Southwest Georgia Technical College||Thomasville||GA||1465|
|Southern Careers Institute Inc||San Antonio||TX||108|
|Southern California International College - Brea||Brea||CA||111|
|Southeastern Community College||Whiteville||NC||1883|
|South Texas Vocational Technical Institute - Mcallen||Mcallen||TX||713|
|South Suburban College||South Holland||IL||6751|
|Snead State Community College||Boaz||AL||1579|
|Simi Valley Adult School and Career Institute||Simi Valley||CA||5902|
|Silicon Valley College||Fremont||CA||721|
|Seattle Community College - North Campus||Seattle||WA||5847|
|Savannah Technical College||Savannah||GA||2048|
|Santa Ana College||Santa Ana||CA||27571|
|San Joaquin Valley College - Visalia||Visalia||CA||627|
|San Bernardino Valley College||San Bernardino||CA||12025|
|San Antonio College of Medical and Dental Assistants - Mcallen||Mcallen||TX||680|
|San Antonio College of Medical and Dental Assistants - Main||San Antonio||TX||734|
|Rock Valley College||Rockford||IL||7699|
|Rochester Community and Technical College||Rochester||MN||4778|
|Renton Technical College||Renton||WA||5065|
|Pomona Unified School District Adult and Career Education||Pomona||CA||971|
|Pinellas Technical Education Center||Saint Petersburg||FL||1232|
|Pima Medical Institute - Mesa||Mesa||AZ||71|
|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 Community College||Tucson||AZ||28078|
|Pensacola Junior College||Pensacola||FL||9985|
|Pasadena City College||Pasadena||CA||22948|
|Okefenokee Technical College||Waycross||GA||1263|
|Ogden - Weber Applied Technology College||Ogden||UT||1231|
|Oakland Community College - Bloomfield Hills Campus||Bloomfield Hills||MI||23188|
|O C Collins Career Center||Chesapeake||OH||502|
|Northwestern Technical College||Rock Spring||GA||1500|
|North Texas Professional Career Institute||Dallas||TX||50|
|North Idaho College||Coeur Dalene||ID||4049|
|North Dakota State College of Science||Wahpeton||ND||2425|
|North - West College - West Covina||West Covina||CA||187|
|North - West College - Pomona||Pomona||CA||149|
|North - West College - Pasadena||Pasadena||CA||73|
|North - West College - Glendale||Glendale||CA||80|
|National School of Technology Inc||Hialeah||FL||502|
|National School of Technology Inc||Miami||FL||544|
|Nash Community College||Rocky Mount||NC||2150|
|Mount Ida College||Newton||MA||1196|
|Mount Aloysius College||Cresson||PA||1297|
|Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College||Perkinston||MS||8768|
|Minnesota State Community Technical College - Wadena||Wadena||MN||No Data|
|Minnesota State Community and Technical College||Fergus Falls||MN||2082|
|Milwaukee Area Technical College||Milwaukee||WI||14296|
|Midlands Technical College||West Columbia||SC||9702|
|Middlesex County College||Edison||NJ||10398|
|Mid Michigan Community College||Harrison||MI||2316|
|Miami Dade College||Miami||FL||46834|
|Mesalands Community College||Tucumcari||NM||465|
|Mercy College of Northwest Ohio||Toledo||OH||208|
|Mcfatter Technical Center||Davie||FL||986|
|Madison Area Technical College||Madison||WI||14474|
|Louisiana State University at Alexandria||Alexandria||LA||2386|
|Long Technical College||Phoenix||AZ||299|
|Lamar State College - Orange||Orange||TX||1939|
|Lakeshore Technical College||Cleveland||WI||2742|
|Lake Superior College||Duluth||MN||3972|
|Kirtland Community College||Roscommon||MI||1307|