Most employers prefer to hire formally-educated pharmacy techs. Registration or certification with the state board of pharmacy is usually required for pharmacy technicians. Gaining this approval may involve documenting education and disclosing any criminal background. Many students complete an associate's degree in pharmacy technology before working. Pharmacy techs can choose to become formally certified by a national organization.
Students are expected to have a high school diploma or GED before being admitted into a program. During study, it is also common for students to undertake an internship or other form of hands-on practice.
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Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology
The Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology is a 2-year, undergraduate degree program that is designed to prepare students for immediate entry into the pharmacy technician workforce. Students may take courses in pharmacology (the study of how drugs affect the body), physiology (cellular functions of the body), medical terminology and pharmacy law. General education courses, such as college math and English composition, may also be required. Required courses may include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology
- Pharmacy maintenance
- Medical Office Practice
- Pharmacy externship
Most pharmacists prefer to hire pharmacy technicians who already have some experience in the field. Pharmacy technicians generally receive hands-on practice during the degree program. Some may engage in internships or apprenticeships with local pharmacists before applying for a job. Pharmacy techs should be comfortable assisting with prescriptions and interacting with patients.
Licensing and Continuing Education
Although there are no nation-wide certification requirements for pharmacy technicians, state requirements for licensure vary. Most states require that a student either hold degrees from accredited institutions or complete a set number of hours of formal training. Nearly all states require pharmacy techs to reveal any criminal or drug conviction record or to assert that they do not have such a record. Some states may license pharmacy techs only after they earn voluntary national certification.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians both offer voluntary certification for pharmacy technicians. Certification involves passing an officially administered examination. Certified pharmacy techs may have additional opportunities available to them, but certification must be renewed every two years.
Workshops may be available to pharmacy technicians who wish to stay up to date on the most recent advancements or developments in the field. Organizations like the American Pharmacists Association and the National Pharmacy Technician Association offer yearly meetings that provide a forum for discussion and seminar opportunities.
Certified pharmacy technicians are required to complete at least 20 hours of continuing education in pharmacy technology every two years. Local colleges and pharmacy associations may offer continuing education pharmacy courses. Pharmacy techs with a great deal of experience could decide to become pharmacists. They would need to earn a bachelor's degree and a 4-year professional pharmacist's degree: the Doctor of Pharmacy.
For pharmacist technician training, students can undertake an associate's degree in pharmacy technology. Typical topics include medical terminology, pharmacology and medical office practice, all of which prepare students for a pharmacists tech career.