Pharmacy Technician Associate's Degree
As a pharmacy technician, you ease a pharmacist's workload. Among other things, you're trained to process and prepare prescriptions; you also assist with distributing medication to patients. Read on for information about how to qualify to become a pharmacy technician by achieving a 2-year associate's degree. Schools offering Pharmacy Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Degree Do I Need to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
According to the Pharmacy Technicians Education Council (RXPTEC), there aren't any federal education requirements and very few state education requirements for you to be able to work as a pharmacy technician. Though on-the-job training is still the most common preparation for this occupation, the RXPTEC states that your chances of being hired may improve if you graduate from a formal education program (www.rxptec.org).
Some universities offer suitable training programs. However, it might be easier for you to locate a pharmacy technician associate's degree program through a technical college, vocational school, community college or career school. Online programs are quite rare.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists maintains an online directory of schools that offer accredited pharmacy technician training programs. In addition, the National Center for Education Statistics is an excellent source of postsecondary education institutions; as of July 2011, an online search for pharmacy technician yields nearly 200 schools offering associate's degree programs.
What Are Some Required Courses?
An associate's degree program for prospective pharmacy technicians can take you up to two years to complete and may consist of up to 95 credits. Depending on the school you might earn an Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Occupational Science in pharmacy technology or pharmacy technician. Once you graduate, you're prepared to work with pharmacists behind the scenes to process prescriptions and deal interpersonally with customers.
Typical medical courses can include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pathophysiology, psychology and human relations. Pharmacy-specific courses may address pharmacology, pharmacy administration, pharmacy computer software, inventory management, processing and dosages.
Often, you have the opportunity to complete an externship or practicum at a school-approved pharmacy department or facility. In order to participate in an externship, you may be required to undergo a criminal background check and drug-screening test.
What's My Occupational and Salary Outlook?
According to the 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for this profession is good. In July 2011, the BLS projected that employment for pharmacy technicians will increase 25% over the period 2008-2018, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations (www.bls.gov).
The BLS further stated that your chances of employment can be enhanced by sitting for a certification examination. Examinations are administered by a national organization such as the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. Though officially voluntary, some states and employers require you to be certified in order to practice.
The BLS emphasizes that you may earn more as a certified technician than non-certified. In May, 2008, the median hourly wage for a pharmacy technician was $13.32. The bottom ten percent earned less than $9.27, while the top ten percent earned more than $18.98 per hour.
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