All About Pharmacy Technician Schools

In many countries today, healthcare industry employment continues even while other industries falter, making a health service job a good choice for anyone considering a new career.

Pharmacy technician jobs are one of the main positions seeing drastic increases with hiring expected to increase as much as 25 percent over the next few years. This is a great opportunity for anyone with good attention to detail to consider a career as a Pharmacy Technician or `PT`, especially since it is possible to complete certification programs at reputable pharmacy technician schools in as little as two years and get into a well-paying job soon afterward.

Different Types of Pharmacy Technician Schools

In the US and Canada, some PT jobs do not require any certification or schooling although most do. Those who have schooling and certification are definitely preferable for positions, however, making schooling something that anyone looking at a career as a PT should consider very seriously.

In all likelihood, more jobs will move toward requiring certification as well, so skipping the education may reduce job hire and advancement opportunity.

Pharmacy Technician education is available in programs that last anywhere from 6 months to two years or more, depending on the depth of training.

Like many other medical training and technical programs, the shorter programs give a basic, fundamental overview of what to expect on the job and general education relating to basic pharmacology, pharmacology law, pharmacology records, inventory, labeling, ordering and many other relevant topics to working in a retail pharmacy environment.

Courses and diploma programs

Students that attend the shorter programs usually earn a Pharmacy Technician Certificate for completion of the program, but have no actual approved certifications.

Longer courses offered by schools include specialized diploma programs and Associates Degree courses that last between about 12 months to 24 months.

Diploma programs are great for students who already have some healthcare service experience and want to move into a position as a PT, as well as those entering the field new.

Study usually includes all that is mentioned above, plus pharmacology in more detail, dosage calculation, mixing medications and others, and usually includes an externship to prepare students to take the certification exam. Students completing a diploma course and passing their certification exam will earn the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician or CPhT.

Associates in Health Sciences with a PT specialty takes two years and is recommended for any individual if there is an interest in both obtaining a college degree, and being able to advance the fastest in their career.

Courses of study are much more in depth and include additional medical subjects. Externships are a required part of the curriculum, as is passing the certification examination. Those with their CPhT and an AS degree stand the best chance of being hired in non-retail pharmacy technician positions, and starting at the highest salaries.

Accredited vocational program

In the UK and many other countries a pharmacy technician is required to complete both an accredited vocational program in pharmacy services and a pharmaceutical science program, and must be registered with numerous UK healthcare organizations.

Courses of study include that which is mentioned above, as well as medicines management for patients and training in running and assisting in hospital clinics and more.

Please note however, in the UK there is a difference between a pharmacy technician and a pharmacy dispenser, with the former having more vocational and educational requirements.

Interested individuals are advised to contact local professional organizations in order to get additional details about attending school to become a PT such as which are the best courses and whether they offer job placement and financial aid.

In the US, contact the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians (AAPA) or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), in the UK contact the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPC) and in Canada the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Technicians (CAPT) to name a few.

Employment After Attending PT Schools

There are actually many more employment opportunities for PTs than most people assume. While the majority of jobs are in retail pharmacy positions there are much more specialized career options for pharmacy techs with the right training.

Hospitals, medication manufacturing and packing companies, medication compounding pharmacies, nursing homes, psychiatric facilities and any type of medical facility that either fills medication prescriptions or dispenses medications directly to patients make use of pharmacy technicians.

These positions can be very rewarding, and tend to pay more as well. Certain qualified technicians also have the ability to counsel consumers and patients on the use of their medications, as well as answer medication questions.

In any case, attending schools that offer the most detailed training and externships, and prepare students to become Certified Pharmacy Technicians are highly recommended for anyone interested in a career in healthcare services that pays well and offers plenty of room for advancement.