Earning your pharmacy technician certification could set you up to enter an important area of healthcare.
As a trained and certified pharmacy technician, you’d be able to provide essential healthcare services to patients and customers. You could enter the workforce ready to take on the responsibilities of this job.
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Through online college classes, you could complete the coursework for a pharmacy technician training program and grow confident in your ability to pass an industry certification exam.
Online Pharmacy Technician Certification Programs
Starting a job in healthcare doesn’t have to take years and years of schooling. Rather, when you go through a pharmacy technician program, you might be able to begin a new healthcare career in under 1 year.
Pharmacy technicians work with pharmacists to make sure that all of the important tasks in a pharmacy get done. Key responsibilities include helping customers, preparing medications, and communicating with insurance companies.
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Doing those jobs well requires knowing about healthcare, the human body, and customer service. You can learn all of that and more in a college pharmacy technician certificate program.
The classes might cover:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Computer software for pharmacies
- Customer care
- Drug classifications
- Medical terminology
- Patient privacy
- Reimbursement and payers
You might also participate in an externship during your schooling. Some online certificate programs partner with national pharmacy chains so that you can more easily find a local placement. Accredited programs are designed to prepare students for certification exams offered by industry organizations.
Toward the end of your program, you’ll likely be eligible to sign up for a test. Once you pass it, you’ll officially be a certified pharmacy technician (CPhT) who’s ready to work in a community or hospital pharmacy.
Pharmacy Careers and Salaries
Since online pharmacy technician programs prepare students for a specific career, it makes sense that most graduates decide to become pharmacy technicians.
If, at some point, you’re ready for a change, you may find that your pharmacy skills are useful in other contexts as well. Studying pharmacy topics will acquaint you with the human body and the healthcare system. You could choose to offer direct patient care by working as a medical assistant or a dental assistant.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for healthcare support occupations is $29,880.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Medical Records Specialists||$46,660|
|Pharmacy Technicians — Hospitals||$38,270|
|Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||$37,450|
|Customer Service Representatives||$36,920|
|Pharmacy Technicians — Food and Beverage Stores||$36,090|
|Pharmacy Technicians — Pharmacies and Drug Stores||$35,940|
Some of these careers may require more education or additional certification programs. If you’d rather work behind the scenes in healthcare, you could consider jobs in medical transcription or medical records.
The science lessons from your pharmacy tech program could be useful for jobs in medical laboratories. You might also have opportunities to work in pharmaceuticals as a sales rep or to sell other medical supplies. Pharmacy technicians often interact with customers.
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If you want to branch out beyond healthcare, you could work as a customer service representative or a receptionist in another industry. Of course, there’s also the option to work as a receptionist or a secretary in a medical office.
Pharmacy Tech Certificate Curriculum & Courses
When you pursue your pharmacy technician certification online, your certificate program’s coursework will include the content that’s covered by industry certification exams.
Here are some course examples:
- Anatomy and Physiology: Getting to know the systems of the body will prepare you to understand how pharmaceuticals work.
- Delivery Systems: You’ll study how various medications get into a person’s system and make a difference in their health.
- Drug Names and Classifications: This class will familiarize you with drugs that are on the market today and how they’re named and grouped.
- Medical and Pharmaceutical Law: It’s important for healthcare workers to understand the laws and regulations that influence their practices.
- Payment and Billing: This course will introduce you to health insurance billing and payments as well as other reimbursement systems.
- Pharmacy as a Profession: You may study the history of pharmacies and learn about the different roles in today’s pharmacies.
- Pharmacy Math: You’ll practice the math skills, including algebraic concepts, that are regularly used in pharmacies.
- Pharmacy Operations: The practical skills covered in this course might include inventory management and customer service.
- Software for Pharmacies: This class will help equip you with the computer skills that are necessary in a modern pharmacy setting.
- Sterile Practices: You’ll learn how to maintain a clean, healthy environment, especially when compounding prescriptions.
Your program may end with a comprehensive review to prepare you for taking a certification exam.
While career training programs often have generous admission policies, there are some qualifications you’ll be required to meet.
Often, pharmacy technician schools will require you to:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Fill out an application form
- Have a high school diploma or a GED certificate
- Pay an application fee
Some colleges may have a more stringent admissions process, so it’s beneficial to carefully read all the qualifications and requirements of your specific school before you apply.
Pharm Tech Programs Accreditation
When you’re considering where to go for your pharmacy technician certificate program, it’s strategic to take a close look at regionally accredited colleges.
For many students, schools with regional accreditation offer the best opportunities in pharmacy technician preparation. Regionally accredited schools meet a set of high standards. Other colleges appreciate the academic quality that’s associated with this type of accreditation. You may decide later that you want to go back to college for an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree.
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If you did your training at a regionally accredited school, some of your previous coursework may count toward your degree program.
Pharmacy Technician Licensure and Certifications
Your state may require certification or licensure for pharmacy technicians. The rules vary among states, but yours might accept one of the following credentials:
- Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). This credential is from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PCTB) and is based on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).
- Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). This credential is from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) and is based on the ExCPT exam.
- State licensure. Licensing requirements often vary by state.
While not all states require such credentials, some employers may prefer to hire licensed or certified technicians. The Board of Pharmacy Technician Specialties (BPTS) also offers advanced credentials, such as the Hazardous Drug Management Certificate.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you qualify, you may be able to get some financial help with your college certificate classes. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will help determine your eligibility to receive government support, such as state or federal grants or loans.
To qualify for government aid, there’s a minimum course load required per semester, so your eligibility may depend on how many classes are included in your program. You can also look into scholarships for your schooling.
Some colleges give select students a discount on classes. It may also be possible to win scholarships from community or national organizations, including those dedicated to pharmacy professions. If you already work for a pharmacy, your employer might fund a portion of your schooling.
What Is a Certified Pharmacy Technician?
A certified pharmacy technician is a healthcare professional who works alongside pharmacists. Pharmacy techs do a variety of tasks, including speaking with patients, filing paperwork, tracking inventory, and preparing prescriptions. The exact tasks that a pharmacy technician is allowed to handle depends on state regulations.
Certified pharmacy technicians are techs who have passed one of the industry’s credentialing exams. They completed preparatory programs or accrued many hours of work experience in pharmacy settings in order to take the test. Certification shows that a technician is well-versed in what it takes to be a proficient member of a pharmacy team.
What Can You Do with a Pharmacy Technician Certificate?
After going to pharmacy technician school, you can take your credentialing exam so that you can look for work as a pharmacy technician.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies and drug stores. Others are employed by hospitals and grocery stores. Other potential jobs to consider after pharmacy technician training include medical receptionist, medical secretary, and customer service representative.
With some additional training, you might be able to pursue a job as a medical assistant, a dental assistant, or a medical records specialist.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
Pharmacy technicians often interact with pharmacy customers. They may take payments, scan insurance cards, hand out prescriptions, or answer phone calls. Techs can also prepare prescriptions. That might mean compounding the right formulas or counting out the correct number of pills.
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Since the pharmacist is ultimately responsible for all prescriptions that go through the pharmacy, these orders may need to be approved before they can be given to customers. Pharmacy technicians can take care of billing and paperwork matters as well. They may keep track of inventory or file reimbursement requests with insurance companies. Technicians’ responsibilities may vary by state.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacy Technician Online?
It typically takes 3 to 12 months to complete a pharmacy technician training program. Online programs often allow students to go at their own pace, so how quickly you finish may depend on how much time you can dedicate to your studies.
Some online pharmacy schools require an in-person externship at a pharmacy in your area. That experience is included in the one-year-or-less timetable. You can take your national certification exam as soon as you wrap up your program. In fact, you can apply as a PTCB exam candidate once you’re within 60 days of your program’s end date.
What’s the Difference Between a Pharmacist vs. Pharmacy Technician?
For a career in a pharmacy, you could choose to become a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician.
The salary data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As you decide which job to pursue, you might consider how quickly you want to enter the workforce and how much you hope to earn someday.
Is a Pharmacy Technician Certificate Worth It?
Yes, a pharmacy technician certificate is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5% job growth is expected for pharmacy technician positions over the next ten years. As the population ages, so does the need for healthcare services, including those offered by pharmacies.
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Pharmacy technicians help pharmacies function effectively. Today, pharmacists are delivering a greater number of healthcare services, such as administering vaccines. Pharmacy techs are taking over some of pharmacists’ past duties. If you’re interested in the satisfaction of contributing to people’s health, then you might consider pursuing pharmacy technician training.
Universities Offering Online Pharmacy Technician Certificate Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Auburn University at Montgomery offers an online pharmacy technician course online. The course aims to help prepare for taking the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board National Certification Exam, and to apply for an externship at a nearby pharmacy chain. There are typically no prerequisites to take the course.
Auburn University at Montgomery is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
California State University–Long Beach offers an online pharmacy technician certificate program. The program is usually self-paced but may take about 50 hours to complete. Upon completion of the program, eligibility to sit for national certification exams from the National Healthcareer Association and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board may be available.
CSU Long Beach is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
The City College of New York offers a pharmacy technician certification course online. The 75 hour course is designed to help prepare for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. Topics covered typically include pharmacy law, inventory control systems, management, anatomy and physiology, and more.
CCNY is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
San Francisco State University offers a pharmacy technician program either in a hybrid format, with some components on campus in downtown San Francisco, or entirely online and self-paced. The program aims to help prepare for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board exam. An 80 hour clinical externship is also commonly offered as part of the program.
San Francisco State University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Tyler Junior College offers an online program to help prepare for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam. Topics covered include inventory control, dosage calculations, medical terminology, and more. The program often provides interactive labs and learning exercises, and commonly offers mentorship and access to career resources. Coursework is often self-paced and on a flexible schedule.
Tyler Junior College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Pharmacy Tech Certificate Online
Pharmacies depend on qualified technicians to assist patients and take care of essential tasks. A strategic way to prepare for this important career is through an official college training program. You could earn an undergraduate certificate and acquire the knowledge needed for industry credentialing exams.
You can even earn your pharmacy tech certification through online classes. So, if you’re interested in this certificate program, you don’t need to let a busy schedule hold you back from signing up.
Thanks to the flexible format of online studies, you can complete your coursework on a schedule that suits your life. Why not start exploring your options for accredited pharmacy tech programs today?