Best Pharmacy Technician Schools

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Pharmacy technicians, or as they are sometimes known, pharmaceutical technicians, are responsible for helping licensed pharmacists prepare and distribute medication to their clients. The majority of them work in hospital or commercial and retail dispensaries, but these days they can be found in a number of other locations, such as long-term care facilities and pharmaceutical manufacturers. This is due to a relative shortage of licensed pharmacists, which has led to a need for more pharmacist technicians.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the industry is growing at a faster than average rate, and will continue to do so for the next ten years at least. A job as a pharmacy technician guarantees long-term employment opportunities.

Pharmacy Technician Certification

National certification as a pharmacy technician is available through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). A certified pharmacy technician is considered a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). Those who achieve certification will receive a certificate and wallet card indicating their achievement after completion of the exam. The certification is valid for two years.

Those who are qualified may pay a $105 fee to schedule an exam. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) is a computerized test that consists of 90 questions. Ten of these questions are not pharmaceutical-related, but will appear in random places throughout the test. Otherwise, the other 80 questions of the test are broken down into the following categories:

  • Assisting the Pharmacist in Serving Patients (approx. 60 questions): In this section, you must demonstrate knowledge of how to properly process prescriptions, collect data, communicate with patients and other clients, compound and administer drugs, and so forth.
  • Maintaining Medication and Inventory Control Systems (approx. 13 questions): In this section, you must demonstrate knowledge of pharmaceuticals and medical supply identification, inventory, record-keeping, quality control, and so forth.
  • Participating in the Administration and Management of Pharmacy Practice (approx. 7 questions): In this section, you must demonstrate knowledge of federal regulations and professional standards, safety practices, quality assurance, use and maintenance of various pharmaceutical technologies, billing, accounting, and so forth.

Online Pharmacy Technician Certification Training

The following programs all offer pharmacy technician certification training.

CDI College
There are three pharmacy technician programs available through CDI College. The Pharmacy Technician program teaches practical pharmaceutical skills such as compounding, dispensing, and communications, alongside pertinent medical knowledge such as drug/body interactions and internal drug delivery systems. The Pharmacy Technician - Retail program teaches similar subjects, but focuses on retail rather than hospital work environments. Finally, the Pharmacy Assistant program enables students to become competent as a direct assistant to a licensed pharmacist. All programs have a mandatory fieldwork component, which involves a practicum in an actual pharmacy.

Penn Foster Career School
Penn Foster Career School caters directly to an adult crowd of learners. Their flexible schedule maximizes the potential of its students to learn while they are already gainfully employed. The Pharmacy Technician program focuses on developing a broad range of competencies that will be required to work in hospital and retail pharmacies.

Ashworth College
Ashworth College offers both an online and an offline Pharmacy Technician degree. Its online degree teaches you how to compound and dispense drugs within a pharmaceutical environment, as well as preparing you to manage the day to day rigors of working within a pharmaceutical setting. You will learn how to communicate with doctors, clients, and insurance companies.

Colorado Technical University
Colorado Technical University offers an online Associate in Science in Health Administrative Services, which makes students competent in fields above and beyond the average pharmacy technician. Those who complete CTU's degree will understand the ethical and legal ramifications of their careers, as well as be prepared to enter into other related fields within the healthcare industry.
Requirements to Become a Certified Pharmacy Technician
Once you have completed certification training, you should apply to take the PTCE through PTCB. In order to do so, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent (GED or foreign diploma)
  • No felony conviction
  • No drug-related convictions, including misdemeanors. Any violations must be reported to the PTCB.
  • No denial, suspension, revocation, or other punitive restriction from any State Board of Pharmacy. No record of misconduct or regulation violations by any State Board of Pharmacy.
Choosing an Online Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program
When it comes to choosing your online pharmacy technician certificate program, you should take two things into consideration above all others. Namely, the content of the program, and the success of the program.

In regards to the content, you must conduct research to see if the program will educate you in the fields you need to understand in order to become a pharmacy technician. What courses does the program offer? What are the rigors of the various courses? How will you be graded, and what competencies will you be expected to demonstrate by the conclusion of your degree training?

As for the success, you must look into the careers of those who have completed the program before you. How able were they to find jobs as pharmacy technicians following completion of the program? What advantages did the program afford them? Knowing the answers to these questions is an absolute imperative before making your decision as to which school to attend.
Pharmacy Technician Career
A career as a pharmacy technician means a career in the health industry. These careers are notoriously taxing, but also famously rewarding. Through your career as a pharmacy technician you will be able to make direct contact with those in need of your specific expertise. Furthermore, with the diminished number of licensed pharmacists, more demands are being placed upon pharmacy technicians, which will lead to faster and greater advancement within the field.
Pharmacy Technician Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of pharmacy technicians was $29,320 in 2012, or $14.10 per hour.
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