Pharmacy technicians can find training through short-term certificate programs and two-year associate's degree programs. A pharmacy tech curriculum provides students with the knowledge needed to work effectively in a hospital or retail pharmacy.
A high school diploma or GED is required and applicants may need to pass a pre-certification exam.
Pharmacy Technician Certificate
Students develop professional skills such as filling prescriptions, processing insurance information and communicating with patients and providers. The course of study also covers federal and state laws and the differences between hospital and retail pharmacies. Course subjects include:
- Pharmacology and therapeutic principles
- Introduction to pharmacy practice
- Pharmacy law and ethics
- Metric measurements
Associate of Science in Pharmacy Technology
An associate's degree program in pharmacy technology is a two-year course of study that includes classroom, laboratory and hands-on instruction covering all aspects of the pharmacy technician profession. Students receive a foundation in fundamentals such as medical terminology and coding, pharmacology and medical calculations, as well as business-related areas such as customer service and communications. Students must also fulfill a school's general education requirements for graduation.
The curriculum of an associate's degree program includes specialized areas of pharmacy technology and broader topics in the empirical sciences. Course subjects include the following:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Operating systems
- Medical terminology
- Pharmaceutical products
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) has projected that pharmacy technician jobs will increase by 9% between the years 2014 and 2024. The job requirements for pharmacy technicians are also expected to expand because pharmacists are beginning to take a greater role in patient care. In 2015, the annual median salary for a pharmacy technician was $30,410.
Students hoping to work as pharmacists can apply certain general education course credits, such as anatomy or chemistry, toward a bachelor's degree, which is generally required for admission to a Pharm.D. program.
Graduates of a certificate program are prepared to take one of the two national certification exams for pharmacy technicians, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) exam, or the ExCPT, which is offered by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. These exams are voluntary. Training and education requirements vary by state.
Aspiring pharmacy technicians have the option of enrolling in a pharmacy certificate or associate's degree in pharmacy technology program. Graduates may then apply for professional certification.