Associate of Pharmacy Technology or Pharmacy Technician programs are commonly offered through community colleges and vocational schools. In general, a student interested in enrolling in a 2-year associate's degree program has earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. Many academic institutions prefer that students pursuing pharmacy technology training complete courses in chemistry, biology and medical terminology prior to enrolling, as well as complete a background check and/or drug testing. Online courses and programs are available at some schools.
Associate's Degree in Pharmacy Technology
Most pharmacy technology associate's degree programs are comprised of technical training and traditional classroom instruction, both of which prepare students for the national certification examination. Students learn to handle insurance claims and patient paperwork, and they are prepared to fill and price patient prescriptions, stock and take inventory of medications and work alongside pharmacists. Additionally, students are trained to package and distribute medications to patients in home care, extended care, acute care and ambulatory care settings. Courses include:
- Law and ethics in pharmacy
- Systems of the human body
- Pharmacy mathematics
- Principles of pharmacology
- Pharmacy trends
- Computer literacy
- Use of sterile products
- Disease processes
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology
Popular Career Options
Program graduates are prepared to assist pharmacists with the daily goings-on in a pharmacy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graduates can seek employment in:
- Mail order and retail pharmacies
- Assisted living facilities
- Nursing homes
- Healthcare agencies
The BLS notes that pharmacy technicians earned a mean annual income of $31,680, as of May 2015. The job outlook for these workers is good, with a 9% increase in employment expected between 2014 and 2024.
Continuing Education Information
Most programs are designed to act as platforms to earn advanced degrees in pharmacy and other related health fields. Additionally, upon program completion, students can take national certification examinations administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians, reported the BLS (www.bls.gov).
Students who complete a 2-year associate's degree program in pharmacy technology can pursue employment in a wide range of settings and are eligible to take the national certification exam. Courses that students can expect to study while in the program include pharmacy trends and pharmacy mathematics.