Pharmacy technicians mainly assist a licensed pharmacist in filling prescriptions. However, their job requires more than just their ability to count medication.
Educational Requirements and Training
Pharmacy technicians must have at least a high school diploma. However, employers usually prefer applicants who received formal pharmacy technician training. Many employers also give preference to pharmacy technicians who earned a certification from organizations such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Candidates for the position as a pharmacy technician also need good communication skills, customer service skills, basic math skills, and great attention to detail. Their training and skills are necessary to help them fill prescriptions accurately, since the health and safety of the customers are partly in their hands. Precision is critical to this profession.
Finding a pharmacy technician program is the right step towards completing the requirements for an entry-level position in this healthcare field.
Many pharmacy technicians gain knowledge in their field through on-the-job training programs. The subjects covered and time required to complete these programs vary based on the employer’s requirements.
There are also pharmacy technicians who choose to join the field once they completed a postsecondary education program in pharmacy technology. These are often offered by community colleges and vocational schools. They often last for a year or less and award students with a certificate, although there are longer programs that help students earn an associate’s degree. These programs usually take up subjects such as recordkeeping, pharmacy-related arithmetic, pharmacy law and ethics, and dispensing medications. They may also cover clinical experience courses to help students receive hands-on experience.
Students who want to find reliable pharmacy technician programs should look for those accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP). These programs are those that have logged in more than 600 hours of instruction within at least 15 weeks.
Distance Learning Options
Aside from going to a local college or university, there are also distance learning opportunities for those who want get a pharmacy technician degree. There are programs for a certificate, diploma, and associate degree. These programs usually last from six months, in the case of a certificate program, to two years, in case of an associate degree program. Some distance learning programs can be completed depending on the pace the students want to take.
Some of the top online schools offering a pharmacy technician program include:
- Rasmussen University. They offer a Pharmacy Technician Certificate program that prepares students to work in hospitals, retail, home health care, or mail-order pharmacies. They teach students to understand pharmaceutical and medical terminology and the effects of drugs on the human body
- Stratford Career Institute. They offer a Pharmacy Assistant program that gears students up for a career in the pharmaceutical industry. The program teaches students more about product information and communicating clearly with the customers and the medical professionals.
- Penn Foster Career School. They offer a Pharmacy Technician program that can be completed at the students’ pace. This program teaches students to read prescriptions from the hospitals and doctors, fill prescriptions for the patients, and check the prescription and insurance information.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 20% from 2012 to 2022. This is possibly due to the aging population that requires more medications than the younger population, the increasing rates of chronic diseases, and the recent developments in pharmaceutical research.