Pharmacy technician programs will teach students how to work alongside professional pharmacists, filling prescriptions, providing customer service and performing inventory management. Students interested in a career as a tech can enroll in an associate degree or certificate pharmacy technician program.
Enrollment Requirements and Certificate Program Information
Only a high school diploma or GED is required in order to become a pharmacy technician. However, there are some states and the majority of employers that will require or prefer those applicants that have completed a formal training program. The certificate pharmacy technician program can be found through vocational schools, community colleges and online universities. Degree programs will take two years to complete whereas the certificate programs will vary at one to two years for completion.
The certificate programs will usually cover medical terminology, fundamental pharmacology, drug regulations, patient documentation and recordkeeping. The student might also have the opportunity to complete an internship at local retail pharmacies, public or private hospital pharmacies and medical clinics. Advanced courses included in a program will involve pharmacy practice in specific industries, safety and sterilization practices, inventory and documentation procedures, legal dispensary and labeling requirements, proper drug handling and measuring methods, insurance, medical billing and coding, inventory control and documentation procedures.
Those students that are interested in pursuing the associates of specialized technology in pharmacy technology can learn that this degree is not offered at every college or university. An alternative to this type of degree is enrolling in the associate of applied science in pharmacy technology. This program will teach the skills that are necessary in order to become a certified technician.
This associate’s degree program will typically take two years to complete, unless the student enrolls in an accelerated program which can be completed in 16 to 18 months. Students will learn how to prepare medications, create patient profiles, keep patient information up-to-date, take pharmacy inventory, and work with insurance companies regarding medication coverage for patients. Students will also come to know how a pharmacy actually functions, and the role the pharmacy technician will play when assisting the pharmacist. The technician’s main goal in a pharmacy setting will be to complete as many tasks as possible in order to free up the time of the pharmacist so that they may better serve customers when giving consultations.
Graduates from this program will also have a better understanding of the legal limitations and responsibilities of the technician. By law a tech will not be able to provide consultation to a customer, regarding any questions they may have about their prescriptions and will be required to refer the customers to the pharmacist instead. Students that are interested in applying for a program will need to have a math and science academic background and have their CPR and First aid certification. Some programs might also require the students to pass a criminal background check or drug screening prior to being accepted.
Courses Included in the Program
In a technician program the students will complete both classroom and clinical study courses. Students will also participate in seminars as they learn more about working as part of a pharmacy team. Future techs can learn about specialized skills such as pharmacology, pharmacy law, accurately measuring and weighing medications, sterilization and safety and medical terminology.
Certification for pharmacy technicians is required by some states and while not mandatory in others, many students will still choose to obtain certification in order to increase their chances at finding employment or making a higher salary in their current position. Technicians can obtain certification through such organizations as the Pharmacy technician Board, which will only require the applicant to have their high school diploma and completion of a formal training program, with no past history of drug related crimes.
To maintain certification a pharmacy technician must provide proof of twenty hours of continuing education credits every two years after the initial certification.