A pharmacy technician performs many pharmacy-related functions under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians generally assist the pharmacist in dispensing medication and other health care products to patients. Their work is typically a combination of routine tasks in the preparation of prescribed medication (e.g., counting tablets, labeling bottles, etc.) and administrative duties such as stocking shelves, answering phones, keeping records, and handling payment by customers.
Pharmacy Technician Schools
The material covered in a formal pharmacy technician education program encompasses pharmaceutical techniques, medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy record keeping, and pharmacy law and ethics. Most programs are comprised of a combination of classroom and laboratory work along with a period of internship, in which students gain valuable hands-on experience working in an actual pharmaceutical setting. Here are some schools who offer these types of programs:
- Penn Foster Career School - This school offers an online, self-paced pharmacy technician training program. Graduates of this program receive a pharmacy technician career diploma and are automatically eligible to take the PTCB (Pharmacy Technician Certification Board) exam.
- Ashworth College - This college offers online diploma programs specifically for prospective pharmacy technicians. The program prepares students for the PTCB exam, and also offers hands-on training.
- Altierus Career College (formerly Everest College) - This college offers pharmacy technician career training programs at its campuses located across the country. These diploma programs can typically be completed in less than a year.
- San Francisco State University - This state university offers a pharmacy technician certification program at its San Francisco, California campus or online, and prepares students to take the PCTB exam.
- Rasmussen College - This college offers an online, career-focused program that can lead to either the PCTB exam. Students wishing to continue their education will be prepared to enroll in an associate degree in health sciences.
Pharmacy Technician Education Requirements
While there are many paths to take for employment as a pharmacy technician, many employers prefer to hire candidates with formal education, certification or previous pharmacy experience. According to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), education programs are available through a variety of organizations, including:
- Community colleges
- Vocational schools
- The military
These kinds of training programs help job candidates reach pharmacy technician requirements by focusing on coursework involving both classroom and laboratory training, covering a variety of subjects, such as:
- Medical terminology
- Pharmaceutical calculations and techniques
- Pharmacy record keeping
- Pharmacy law and ethics
You can complete many pharmacy technician training programs in as little as six months or as long as two years, depending on the coursework and involvement of the program. Prerequisites for many pharmacy technician training programs require a high school diploma or equivalent. The College Board suggests that students who wish to pursue pharmacy technician training study mathematics, communications and language, and sciences to prepare for later coursework.
Pharmacy Technician Training
Most states require that pharmacy technicians be registered with an official board of pharmacy. Often, the minimum pharmacy technician requirements for licensure and certification are a high school diploma, payment of a small fee and a clear background check. Certification is offered through professional organizations such as:
- The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
- The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT)
Pharmacy technicians who pass exams offered by these groups have demonstrated that they have the proper skill set to help dispense life-saving medications and provide customers with essential medical information.
Certification from these professional groups often comes with continuing education requirements. Certified pharmacy technician requirements include re-certification every two years. To be eligible for recertification, pharmacy technicians must complete 20 hours of continuing education. Up to ten hours of continuing education training can be earned by working directly with a licensed pharmacist, while other continuing education pharmacy technician requirements include college courses, pharmacy associations and other formal pharmacy technician programs.
Pharmacy Technician Resources
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pharmacy Technicians and Aides
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
- Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT)
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
- American Association of Pharmacy Technicians (AAPT)
- National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA)
- Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT)
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Ashworth College, https://www.ashworthcollege.edu/career-diplomas/pharmacy-technician/
- Altierus Career College, https://www.altierus.org/program/healthcare/pharmacy-technician
- Penn Foster Online, http://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/medical-and-health-careers/pharmacy-technician-career-diploma
- Pharmacy Technicians, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm
- Rasmussen College, http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/health-sciences/pharmacy-technician/
- San Francisco State University, https://cel.sfsu.edu/pharmacy