If you’re passionate about healthcare and want a career that doesn’t require you to spend several years in training, you may be considering becoming a pharmacy tech. Not only is the job market for pharmacy tech strong, but it’s also an exciting career with growth potential.
If you’re looking into entering a pharmacy tech program, read on to learn everything you need to know about these programs.
Is a Pharmacy Tech Program Required?
Prospective pharmacy technicians are not required to go through a pharmacy tech program. However, they usually will need at least some on-the-job training, and most states require certification.
Why Pharmacy Tech Programs Are Beneficial
While a pharmacy tech program isn’t required, it is recommended. Since most states require certification, it’s beneficial for potential pharmacy techs to develop a strong knowledge background. These programs can save a lot of studying time.
Programs also serve as good preparation before starting on-the-job training. Pharmacy techs do much more than just fill prescriptions. They also need to understand drug classifications and have good communication skills. New techs who’ve gone through a program won’t feel as lost once they start their on-the-job training.
Before entering a program, students should have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. In addition, they must have no felonies or any type of drug-related convictions on their record. Students also must not have any restrictions against them by the State Board of Pharmacy.
There are two different programs for prospective pharmacy technicians: certificate training programs and associate’s degree programs.
A certificate program typically takes less than a year to complete and is followed by on-the-job training. The main focus of a certificate program is preparing students to pass the certification exam.
An associate’s degree lasts two years and is more extensive. Classes will focus on the necessary skills to work as a pharmacy tech and usually include a clinical that can count as on-the-job training.
Choosing the Right Program
There are advantages and disadvantages to both certificate and associate’s degree programs. Prospective pharmacy tech students need to carefully consider each program and their career goals before making a choice.
Pros and Cons of a Certificate Program
For those whose primary goal is to get into the pharmacy tech career as quickly as possible, a certificate program may be a good option, as it’s usually completed in half the time. These programs are also usually more affordable, making them a better choice for people on a tight budget.
When choosing a certificate program, it’s essential to see which certifications it covers. Some programs are focused on state-specific certifications, while others prepare students for national certifications. A national certification program is typically a better idea since students will be able to get a job as a pharmacy tech in any state.
Certificate programs aren’t as robust. Students will get a great background, but not as much as they’d get with an advanced degree. Chances for promotion are also lower.
Pros and Cons of an Associate’s Degree Program
An associate’s degree will help pharmacy tech students stand out as they enter their careers. The degree program goes beyond the basics of pharmacy tech and includes science, math, and healthcare classes.
An associate’s degree makes students more appealing when it’s time to find a job. They tend to stand out among others who may only have a certificate. An associate’s degree is also a good option for those who want to advance their careers, such as working in a hospital or getting a full pharmacy degree.
One drawback to an associate’s degree is that it takes longer to complete. Most students need two years before getting their degree. It can also be more expensive than a certificate program, and the coursework will be more challenging. Even with a degree, most students will still need to take a certification test.
Tuition costs can range from $2,000 up to $11,000. These prices will depend on the program and whether the student chooses to go to college in-state or out-of-state.
One of the most important factors to look for in a program is whether it’s been accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. This group ensures that the program is following the current best practices.
Nature of the Program
While there are a few in-person programs, most pharmacy tech programs are online. Students will finish their courses with an in-person practicum.
Students will complete classes such as:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Pharmacy Law and Ethics
- Pharmaceutical Calculations
Pharmacy programs are definitely beneficial for those who want to become pharmacy technicians. These programs give future techs the training they need to excel at their jobs and make them more appealing to prospective employers.