Pharmacy Technician Associate's Degree
A pharmacy technician processes and prepares prescriptions; he or she also assists with distributing medication to patients. Learn more about the prerequisites, common course topics, industry statistics and salary figures. 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 post-secondary education institutions; as of April 2016, an online search for pharmacy technician yields nearly 200 schools offering associate's degree programs.
|Education Requirements||No federal education requirements for pharmacy technicians, but completing an academic program may improve job prospects|
|Online Options||Yes, but rare|
|Common Courses||Anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, inventory management, pathopsychology, pharmacy administration|
|Job Outlook (2014-24)||9%*|
|Hourly Median Salary (2015)||$14.62*|
Source: *U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics
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 personally 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 Occupational Outlook Handbook of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for this profession is good. In 2014, the BLS projected that employment for pharmacy technicians will increase 9% over the period 2014-2024, which is faster than the national average for all occupations (www.bls.gov).
Examinations for certifications 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.
In May 2015, the BLS reported that the median hourly wage for a pharmacy technician was $14.62. The bottom ten percent earned less than $10.07, while the top ten percent earned more than $21.65 per hour.
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