Pharmacy tech degrees are not available at the baccalaureate level. However, students can enroll in an associate's degree program in pharmacy tech. An Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Tech can be completed in two years of full-time study. Students enrolled in the program will learn how to prepare and dispense medicine. Communication skills are also emphasized, because many pharmacy techs interact with pharmacists and customers on a daily basis. Additionally, students will learn about administrative responsibilities, such as maintaining an inventory and handling insurance claim forms.
Associate's Degree in Pharmacy Tech
Many community colleges require prospective students to complete high school and meet the minimum general education requirements in areas such as English, mathematics and science. Applicants who have not completed high school should hold a GED certificate. Some community colleges may also require ACT scores for admission into a pharmacy tech program. Students enrolled in the A.A.S. program will be introduced to core concepts of pharmacy technology that are needed to succeed in the workplace, such as pharmaceutical law, sterile compounding and intravenous admixture. Other course topics include:
- Classification of drugs
- Pharmacy treatment and drug therapy
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology
- Mathematics for pharmacy techs
- Drug delivery systems
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' projections for 2014-2024, the employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by about 9%. The primary reason for this faster than average job growth is the growing number of elderly patients and their need for prescription medications. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for a pharmacy technician was $30,410 in May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Students who wish to continue their studies can enroll in a bachelor's degree program in pharmacy. The degree will prepare students for entrance into pharmacy school. Alternatively, graduates of an associate degree program in pharmacy tech can take the exam for national certification. Currently, two organizations, the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, administer this exam. Once a pharmacy tech has passed the exam, he or she will have to undergo a recertification process every two years.
In addition to learning how to prepare and dispense medicine, communication, and administration skills are also very important for students to acquire as part of a pharmacy tech degree. The degree gives graduates the necessary skills to apply to pharmacy school or a certification exam.