Schools for Pharmacy Technicians

The best way for a person to accelerate entry into a career as a pharmacy technician is to receive formal schooling. The options are getting a certificate or a two-year associate’s degree. The certificate programs are much shorter in length (2-6 months) but combined with self-study and on-the-job training are still effective in preparing a student to take a certification exam. Here is information on some of the typical requirements and costs of such schooling and how to go about choosing the best one for you.

Minimum Requirements

To get into a pharmacy technician school, the requirements are normally a high school diploma (or equivalency). Although not required, there are other courses you can take in high school that will help you through your program such as:

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  • Health education
  • Computer applications
  • Math and science
  • Chemistry
  • English communication

Health education classes give you the fundamental knowledge of how the human body works which will be helpful when you start taking courses on human anatomy, drug interactions, and physiology while in the pharmacy technician school program.

The job of a pharmacy technician also involves mathematical formulas used in measuring dosages and other procedures. A basic knowledge of chemistry does well for understanding the content of medications and how they can affect the human body.

A person seeking to be a pharmacy technician should also have good ability to read, speak, and write English. One of the reasons why reading is so important in this field is because of drug safety and interaction information. A technician should be able to read the information and pass it along to customers through spoken English.

How to Choose a School

There are many pharmacy technician schools so you need some criteria to go by when choosing the best one for you. You must weigh factors such as:

  • Curriculum
  • Location
  • Internship
  • Program length
  • Tuition cost
  • Convenience

It is important to look at a school’s curriculum to make sure the program covers the important subjects. Typical curriculums will cover such topics as current drugs, drug laws, handling of drugs, insurance practices, effects of drugs on the human body, and medical ethics. Basically, the curriculum must be well-rounded and teach you all of the minimum skills needed to do this job.

The location of the school is closely related to convenience. Convenience also deals with the time when classes are held. It is not uncommon for students in pharmacy technician programs to attend classes while also working in a pharmacy.

Does the school have an internship program where you can receive on-the-job training prior to certification? This allows you to get the hands-on training that you need and will be helpful when you actually get a job in the field.

Then there is program length and tuition cost. The shorter programs will get you working in the field faster. It depends on your financial resources and how quickly you need steady employment. Consider that even if you can only attend a short program for a certificate that you can later opt for the two-year associate’s degree.

Tuition Costs

The tuition costs for attending a formal pharmacy technician training program can range from around $1,200 to $27,000 or more. It depends on the location of the school, its length, and if it is online or on-campus. You can work while you go to school but a pharmacy technician’s pay is relatively low at the entry level so tuition is something that needs to be weighed carefully.

There are also various ways to get help with tuition such as an employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement program, loans, grants, and scholarships. All assistance will require that you qualify.