Your Online Guide for Pharmacy Technician Schools
PharmacyTechnicianOnlineSchools is a guide to online Pharmacy Tech programs, including degrees and certifications. Pharmacy technicians work directly under a pharmacist at retail pharmacies across the nation. Pharmacy technicians have become increasingly in demand as the number of pharmacists shrinks, creating a need for support in the pharmacy. A growing number of accredited healthcare schools are adding online options to their programs, with some even making online Pharmacy Technician training available.
Information on Pharmacy Technician Online Schools
There’s been a mass influx of prescription drugs in the past 20 years, which requires far more pharmacists and techs on hand than ever before. Pharmacy technician programs are now available online, making it easy to obtain a certificate while still working full time. They are also available through traditional means, such as community colleges and technical or trade schools.
Is There a Demand for Pharmacy Technicians?
It’s predicted there will be a 25 percent increase in pharmacy technicians in the next five years. This is drastically higher than the average growth rate of other industries. Pharmacy technicians are needed at nearly all pharmacy locations because they are qualified to take care of much of the work that previously only a pharmacist could handle. With well-trained techs, a pharmacist is free to fill prescriptions at a rapid rate versus working directly with clients and filling out paperwork for new prescriptions. The mix of the pharmacy technician position and technology allows the modern pharmacy to run more smoothly and efficiently than ever before.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
The average program takes about a year to complete. Some programs may take longer if a student is enrolled in the program part time. An online pharmacy tech program takes place entirely online and you sit for a certification exam after it’s complete. This is a great education and career path for someone who is working full time and wants a short program to improve their opportunities. The certification exam for pharmacy techs is valid nationwide. After you take it once, you are certified to work as a tech in any capacity. Some work in hospitals, while others work in stores. Regardless of where you work, you’re certified for life. Some employers may require upkeep of the certificate by paying for continuing education classes every year or few years.
Accredited Schools for Pharmacy Technicians
It is very important you attend an accredited pharmacy tech program. These programs are available online and are often a virtual extension of traditional schools. You must enroll in a program that’s accredited by The American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists (ASHSP). Attending a program accredited by this group means you will be prepared to sit for the certification exam that’s required for all pharmacy techs. Be wary of programs that are not accredited by this organization, since you may not be allowed to sit for the exam when you’re done with the program. Certification is essential for all pharmacy technicians in order to gain employment. Few, if any, employers will consider a tech without the proper certification. The number of students enrolled in these one year programs is expanding, which means employers can pick and choose whom they want for a position. Be prepared by having certification when interviewing for a pharmacy tech position. The website for the ASHSP shows a current list of accredited pharmacy tech programs in the United States. Any program you explore online typically states their accreditation source on their web page.
Prerequisites for Pharmacy Technician Online Schools
Most programs require a student to have a high school diploma or a GED. Some programs are extensions of traditional schools only accept students with a high school diploma. Regardless of your background, understand there are accredited pharmacy tech programs that accept students with a GED. Because you are attending school online, take your time researching a variety of schools to get an idea of what program works best for you. For the most part, pharmacy tech programs are the same across the board, but it’s important to watch for those that are unaccredited. While these programs may seem legitimate, they will not allow you to sit for the certification exam needed to gain employment.
How Do Online Pharmacy Technician Programs Work?
Students cover the same material at the same pace in an online program. There are no shortcuts and students should be ready to devote ample time and energy to any program conducted online. Instructors are usually experienced in the online medium and understand how to keep students engaged and active regarding material and curriculum. Some courses call for participating on a message board where students chat and discuss ongoing material, assignments, and preparation for exams. For some classes, participation on the message board is required and worth a grade. For others, it is simply a supplement. At the beginning of the course, you will receive a syllabus online that explains the structure of the class and what students are expected to learn during the coming months. Because a pharmacy tech program is a yearlong, courses are often shorter than an entire spring or fall semester. Some only last a few weeks, but these specifics depend on the program.
Work Experience for Pharmacy Technicians
Before you become a pharmacy tech, you can gain work experience in pharmacies by applying to be a pharmacy assistant. Pharmacy assistant usually work with clients and conduct paperwork while pharmacy techs and pharmacists fill prescriptions. This is a good way to learn your way around a pharmacy environment, become familiar with protocol and procedures and learn about the various pharmaceutical drugs you will be working with after you become a certified pharmacy tech. You do not need any prior pharmacy experience to work as an assistant.
If you are currently a pharmacy assistant and eager to explore your career options while staying in pharmaceuticals, a pharmacy tech certificate could be for you. Some employers may reimburse employees who intend to stay with a company after receiving certification. Talk to your supervisor or contact someone in human resources for information on reimbursement. Online pharmacy tech programs allow you to continue working regular work hours and completing course work and exams on your own time. You do not have to enroll in a program full time, in most cases. There are many online pharmacy tech programs and the majority do require full time enrollment, but there are exceptions where a student takes half of the courses. Keep in mind these programs do take longer than a year to complete. The average completion time for part time programs is usually a year and a half.
Where Do I Take the Pharmacy Technician Exam?
The exam is administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and usually done through the pharmacy tech program or on designated days at testing centers. Preparation for the pharmacy tech exam can be done online and through books and other resources available to students. A portion of the pharmacy tech program is spent teaching students how to take the test. Students can also take practices test only for a fee of $29 per practice exam. This is well worth the investment to get a feel for the test layout, how questions are phrased and the various parts of the exam. There are also guidebooks specially created for the PTCB and these have a supplemental practice exam for students.
Who Is Eligible for the PTCB Certification Exam?
A student must have the minimum required hours of education to sit for the exam. In addition to this, a student cannot have a criminal history. Misdemeanors usually do not count, although they are taken into consideration if you the crime has to do with drugs or prescription drugs. Be completely honest with your application for the exam. Failure to do so can result in dismissal from a pharmacy tech program and you will be banned from over sitting for the exam. This goes for any conviction, not just drug-related charges. PTCB makes the final call on who can sit for an exam. If you have a misdemeanor for shoplifting when you were in your 20s, you will most likely be allowed to sit for the test. However, if you fail to divulge this information and PTCB does a background check (which is common practice) and finds out about a charge, you may be dismissed from taking the test.
What Courses Are Studied for a Pharmacy Technician Program?
Students study areas such as:
- The top 200 drugs
- Drug distribution
- Pharmacy law
- Basic pharmacology
All of these courses prepare students for the PTCB exam and train students on the national level. Pharmacy techs can apply for supervising or lead tech positions after a few years of work experience. While working, they can also attend school part time to become a pharmacist. After years of working in the same position, some pharmacy techs choose to return to school and complete a bachelor’s degree that allows them to work as a pharmacist after additional certification.
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