Pharmacist Certification and Diploma Programs
Certificate- or diploma-level programs in pharmacy technology teach students the skills and knowledge to assist pharmacists in preparing and dispensing medications. Pharmacy technology diploma programs are suited for students who have a strong aptitude in science and mathematics.
While a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) is a minimum requirement for full pharmacists, students wishing to complete a shorter curriculum will find that many schools offer diploma programs in the related field of pharmacy technology. Pharmacy technology diplomas prepare students for work as pharmacy technicians, pharmacist's assistants and other entry-level positions. Pharmacy technician programs teach the methods used to store and label medications, mix medical substances, fill simple prescriptions and notate patients' medical records. Through a combination of classroom instruction and supervised clinical experience, students learn to operate medical equipment to mix medical compounds, form pills, fill capsules and compose liquids, as well as teaching relevant medical terminology and billing techniques as well.
- Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
- Online Availability: Diploma programs in pharmacy technology are very common, though most require students to complete an on-site clinical assignment
- Other Requirements: Supervised clinical experience
Diploma in Pharmacy Technology
Applicants need at least a high school diploma or equivalent to enter a pharmacy technician diploma program. Since working as a pharmacy technician involves understanding how to mix precise amounts of substances, students are advised to develop their mathematics and scientific skills before enrolling in a diploma program. High school courses in art or machine shop might help students develop the fine motor skills needed to operate the medical equipment used in pharmacy technology. The classes offered in pharmacy technician diploma programs emphasize practical skills used to assist pharmacists. Students learn about the effects of various medications on the human body, the equipment used to mix substances and computer programs used to monitor prescriptions. Common courses include:
- Pharmaceutical technology
- Mathematics for pharmacy technicians
- Legal aspects of the pharmaceutical industry
- Medicinal compound mixtures
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Retail pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and pharmaceutical companies all employ pharmacy technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) predicted that there would be job growth of about 20% in the field between 2012 and 2022. According to the BLS in 2014, pharmacy technicians earned an hourly median wage of $14.33.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education Options
Pharmacy technicians usually need to register with their state of employment. Registration requirements vary, but generally include holding a diploma in pharmacy technology and paying a registration fee. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) offer voluntary national certification tests for those interested in improving their job prospects.