The career of a pharmacy technician may be a great choice for students interested in healthcare but who aren't sure they want to go to medical school or pursue another medical field. This profession plays a valuable role in caring for patients by helping them to get and understand their medications.
Fortunately, it's also a career that students can train for online, often in a year or less.
Some pharmacy technicians train on the job. However many states and employers require certification. Both the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Heathcareer Association (NHA) offer certifications. Many online colleges for pharmacy technicians prepare graduates for certification.
On this page, you will find details about featured online pharmacy tech programs. Plus, read about what pharmacy technicians do, how to train for this career and what to expect from online programs.
Degree Overview: Pharmacy Technician
From courses in pharmacology and chemistry to opportunities for hands-on experience in some of the largest pharmacy chains in the nation, students planning to work as pharmacy technicians have a wealth of knowledge available to them through online programs. Here's a primer on what you may encounter on the journey.
Online Pharmacy Technician Courses
It is possible to complete the vast majority of pharmacy technician programs, whether online or on-campus, within a very short time frame, usually about nine months. The goal is to prepare students with real-world knowledge and experience, so they are prepared to move into the workforce immediately upon graduation. Students usually receive a diploma or certificate of completion, which most employers accept as suitable for entry-level work.
Common courses a students might encounter include:
- Introduction to Pharmacy Technician
- Pharmacy Software Management
- Pharmacy Management and Operations
- Pharmacy Billing and Reimbursement
- Pharmacy Sterile and Non-Sterile Compounding
- Pharmacy Law and Regulations
- Dosage Calculation
- Therapeutics and Medical Safety
- Health Science Business Procedures
An important part of any pharmacy technician's education is practical experience, which might seem difficult to acquire through an online program. However, most online schools have agreements with local and/or chain pharmacies that allow an online student to work at a pharmacy in their own community and have their experience documented by their school despite the distance. Each school has different ways of doing this, but in short: a student who needs hands-on experience for their program rarely has to travel to the school itself to get that experience. When it comes to a feature as integral as pharmacy technician externships, this is very important!
Some states require pharmacy technicians to be certified. Certification is available through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Even if the certification is not required in a certain state, it is recommended as a way to give graduates an edge during hiring time.
In some states, students who want to work in hospitals, long-term care facilities and the like must earn a higher level of education, such as an associate or bachelor's degree. Since programs for pharmacy tech at these levels are few and far between, most students opt to earn their degree in a related field, such as chemistry or microbiology, then take pharmacy courses to prepare for certification.
Career-Related Skills to Develop
Pharmacy technician programs often involve a hands-on component, which prepares students for one of the most important aspects of the job: customer service. Good customer service skills are essential when dealing with individuals seeking not only the filling of prescriptions, but information concerning their health and medication. As part of delivering a quality customer service experience, the ability to carefully listen is vital, as are verbal and written communication skills.
Much of the work a pharmacy tech does involves serious attention to detail, strong math skills, top-notch organizational skills and decision-making skills. Pharmacy technicians are often expected to figure out dosages of medications; fill prescriptions with accuracy; stay organized when handed numerous prescriptions and medication requests; and understand when it's time to refer the patient to a pharmacist or even a physician for further instruction. Though these skills are honed on the job, the use of them begins during the pharmacy technician program, in particular during those crucial externships.
Pharmacy Technician Career Outlook
Pharmacy technicians are often the first people to speak with pharmacy customers. Usually, customers know very little about their medications. Some may even be nervous about their illnesses and treatments. Pharmacy technicians play an important part in the process of getting the correct medications to patients and helping them understand their prescriptions. Below you will see a description of the pharmacy technician job and details about the outlook of the career.
Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Projected Job Openings
Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Projected Job Growth
Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
High school diploma or equivalent
The job of a pharmacy technician keeps changing as new drugs are developed and healthcare needs shift. More and more, pharmacists are relying on technicians to go beyond their regular duties. They aren't just selling prescriptions. They are working closely with patients to gather information about allergies and symptoms, as well as patient information needed to fill prescriptions. They are also providing needed information to pharmacists. Many even train and evaluate less-experienced technicians. Of course, techs also measure prescriptions, label drugs, answer phone calls, and work with insurance companies and doctors. Pharmacy technicians with formal training and certifications may be preferred by employers.