A pharmacy technician assists a pharmacist in job functions such as filling prescriptions, customer service and inventory management. No formal education is required to become a pharmacy technician, though completion of a training program is preferred by most employers; still, many pharmacy technicians are trained on the job.
Schools with Pharmacy Technician Programs
There are numerous schools that provide the necessary programs required to become a pharmacy technician, including but not limited to the following:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)|
|Louisiana State University-Alexandria||Alexandria, LA||4-year, public||Certificate||$6,158 (in-state); $13,150 (out-of-state)|
|Madonna University||Livonia, MI||4-year, private not-for-profit||Associate's||$18,740|
|Marygrove College||Detroit, MI||4-year, private not-for-profit||Certificate||$20,930|
|Miami Dade College||Miami, FL||4-year, primarily associate's, public||Certificate||$2,834 (in-state); $9,661 (out-of-state)|
|Robert Morris University Illinois||Chicago, IL||4-year, private not-for-profit||Associate's||$25,200|
|The University of Montana||Missoula, MT||4-year, public||Certificate||$6,158 (in-state); $23,048 (out-of-state)|
|University of Alaska Anchorage||Anchorage, AK||4-year, public||Certificate||$5,545 (in-state); $17,177 (out-of-state)|
|Florida State College at Jacksonville||Jacksonville, FL||4-year, primarily associate's, public||Certificate||$2,830 (in-state); $9,944 (out-of-state)|
|College of Southern Nevada||Las Vegas, NV||4-year, primarily associate's, public||Certificate||$2,805 (in-state); $9,450 (out-of-state)|
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School Selection Criteria
Laboratory education and a background in health education, chemistry and English are beneficial in training to become a pharmacy technician and preparing for the certification exam. Here are some additional things to consider when choosing a school:
- Some schools offer information sessions for prospective students to determine if a pharmacy technician program is right for them before actually applying for admission, covering topics such as cost versus benefits, curriculum and overall job duties of a pharmacy technician.
- In some states, certification is voluntary, while in others it may be required, so prospective students interested in eventually pursuing certification may want to investigate various schools' curricula and take into consideration whether they offer sufficient preparation.
- Different schools offer different internship, cooperative or assistantship programs, with some offering more lab time than field training, so individuals may want to take such details into consideration in school selection.
- Some schools may require students to complete a pre-admission test prior to enrollment.
Certificates and Associate's Degrees
Pharmacy technician training is available through certificate and associate's degree programs. Both include classroom and field training. A typical certificate program requires completion of 35-40 vocational class credits, along with clinical internship requirements. An associate's degree program follows a more traditional curriculum, including courses in behavioral and social science, natural science, mathematics and general education elective courses, in addition to specialized training in pharmacy technician-related classes such as terminology, dosage and professional ethics, for a total of around 60 required credits.
Each college offering a pharmacy technician program has its own set of requirements, but applicants must generally be 18 years old, hold a high school diploma or GED, complete an application for admission and provide transcripts to the admissions department for review. Most school programs have limited entry due to capacity and demand, and enrollment is based on review by a committee or admissions counselor. In addition, some schools have a pre-admission testing or college prep course requirement.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the foremost employers of pharmacy technicians as of May 2015 were, in descending order, health and personal care stores, hospitals, grocery stores, other general merchandise stores, and department stores. Top-paying industries for pharmacy technicians, again in descending order, included the federal government, outpatient care centers, doctors' offices, elementary and secondary schools, and specialty hospitals.
While many responsibilities of a pharmacy technician are learned on the job, employers tend to prefer employees to have some level of training prior to being hired. When choosing a school, it is important to consider if the program offers coursework related to the certification exam, as well as the program's cost benefit and hands-on options.