A career as a pharmacy technician is a rewarding job which takes a lot of dedication, beginning with studying for a degree either on campus or through one of the online pharmacy technician schools. Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist, and their main job is to dispense medications according to prescription requirements. They also perform other duties such as handling the cash-register to make sales, filling in insurance claim forms, maintaining patient profiles, taking inventory of and ordering non-prescription medications, handling phone calls, advising patients about health and diet, and maintain an awareness of the latest medications and their availability.
Pharmacy technicians are employed in nursing homes, hospitals, medical stores, health and personal care stores, retail or mail-order pharmacies, and assisted living facilities. Pharmacy techs need to be dedicated, detail orientated, able to multi-task, possess excellent interpersonal skills and be team players. They may be employed on a full-time basis or part-time, and may have to work evenings, public holidays and weekends, depending on where they are employed.
Requirements For Becoming A Certified Pharmacy Technician Online
Certification is not compulsory but it is recommended. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board is a national certification program. It enables a pharmacy technician to work more efficaciously with pharmacists to extend safe and effective service and patient care. Although the certification is not compulsory, it has been proven that CPhTs earn a higher income and are offered more promotion opportunities. Employers usually prefer to employ pharmacy technicians who have been certified as they are then assured that the CPhT has met the predetermined qualifications by a passing the PTCE.
In order to become a certified pharmacy technician you will have to be in possession of a qualification from an accredited institution, and may not have been convicted of a felony or have any pharmacy or drug conviction. You may apply to sit for and must pass one of two exams; you can either take the National Certification Exam administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians exam. Once you have passed one of these exams you will receive and may use the designation Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).
In order to maintain this certification, which must be renewed every two years, you will need to incur 20 hours of continuing education. Ten of these hours may be accorded to hours incurred at work under the direct supervision of a qualified, licensed pharmacist.
Types Of Pharmacy Technician Programs And Degrees
There are various pharmacy technician programs and degrees which are applicable to the career Pharmacy technician:
- Associate Degree of Science in Pharmacy Technology (ASPT) – This is a two-year associate’s degree in pharmacy technology. Students will be taught how to be successful pharmacy technicians via a variety of courses.
- Pharmacy Technician Diploma (PTD) – This is a formal pharmacy technology diploma program which is offered in a classroom scenario.
- Pharmacy Technician Certificate (CPhT) – This is a certificate which is given to students who have sat for and passed the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.
Pros And Cons Of Online Pharmacy Technician Schools
- Studying online is very popular as it allows you to study at your own pace and to still work whilst you are obtaining your degree. Being able to do pharmacy technician online courses greatly helps those who have financial problems, as they may otherwise not had the opportunity to improve their job outlook.
- Pharmacy technician certification online allows one to move at your own pace, which means that if you get a subject quickly you can move on with the next portion of the pharmacy technician training and, by the same token, if you find a certain section rather difficult you can take your time over it and make sure that you understand it fully before moving on.
- Reputable online pharmacy technician schools should offer exactly the same quality learning that traditional pharmacy technician schools offer and have the same qualified instructors. Most of these online pharmacy technician schools offer what is also known as “distance learning” which means that they have instructors who are available to assist their students and answer questions by phone and e-mail.
- Something that could be a drawback when doing a pharmacy technician online course is the lack of an internship or externship as they are also known. Internships are very important as they allow the student to get hands-on experience in a work scenario under the direction and supervision of a licensed pharmacist.
- Generally, online pharmacy technician schools offer programs which are divided into modules with an exam at the end of each module. The next module is only made available to you once you have passed the exam.
Choosing Your Pharmacy Technician Online School
Doing your studying online is a great idea as it frees you up to continue working and lets you study at your own pace, but there are various things to consider before choosing where to do your pharmacy technician certification online.
- Firstly, do your research and find out what the requirements in your state are regarding qualifications and certification.
- Only consider schools which are established and have national accreditation.
- Make sure that the pharmacy technician online course that you are interested in offers the right courses.
- Make sure that you know exactly what it will take for you to finish the course successfully and commit to it.
- Be positive that you have the self-discipline to attend the online classes and take the tests when required to do so.
Accessing Financial Help For Online Pharmacy Technician Schools
Even if you are saving money by doing your pharmacy technician certification online, it may still be stretching your budget. Fortunately there are federal government grants available. Some of the online schools offer financial aid or will assist you to apply for financial aid, but you can apply yourself as well.
You will need to get all your paperwork together and complete a FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid in order to apply for a grant from the federal government and the school. Make sure that you check for early-priority deadlines, and do your research so that you are sure that you are applying to the most appropriate online pharmacy technician schools. Send in more than one application as soon as possible, as this will give you more of a chance of getting in.
Top Pharmacy Technician Online Schools
There are many online pharmacy technician schools springing up all over the internet, and with so many online courses to choose from it becomes very difficult to choose the best school. Unfortunately, as with any kind of online business, there are those fly-by-night institutions which are only interested in ripping you off for the tuition and when the time comes for you to receive your degree they are nowhere to be found.
With that in mind, here follows a list of reputable online pharmacy technician schools:
- Ashworth College offers a Pharmacy Technician Career Diploma which is a comprehensive pharmacy technician online course.
- The college offers its students the opportunity to pay monthly installments for tuition, which includes books and materials.
- The program consists of 20 modules which are comprehensive yet easy to follow.
- The course includes side effects, indications, dosage calculations, and administration methods of the major classes of pharmaceuticals.
Penn Foster Career School
- Penn Foster Career School is one of the top online pharmacy technician schools which is internationally renowned.
- It offers an online Pharmacy Technician Certificate course.
- This pharmacy technician online course offers all the necessary practical training and includes all learning aids and textbooks.
The curriculum includes how to:
- Receive prescriptions from doctors and hospitals
- Verify insurance and prescription information
- Prepare prescriptions for patients
- Assist the pharmacist with everyday duties
- Penn Foster Career School offers various financial aid options
- CDI offers two courses, a Pharmacy Technician – Retail diploma program and a Pharmacy Technician program.
- CDI teaches students all the practical knowledge and skills required.
The curriculum includes:
- Anatomy, microbiology, physiology, and pharmacology.
- Communications and customer service skills
- Compounding, computer processing, dispensing, mathematics, drug/body interactions, and drug delivery systems among other subjects.
- CDI places students in workplaces to gain on-the-job experience.
U.S. Career Institute
- The U.S. Career Institute offers a four-month pharmacy technician online program.
- The U.S. Career Institute is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council.
- The curriculum includes drug types, dosages and your role in the healthcare industry.
Ultimate Medical Academy
- The Ultimate Medical Academy offers a Pharmacy Technician Diploma program which prepares career-oriented individuals for a career as a pharmacy technician.
- This online program is flexible and is designed to prepare students for both the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board national certification exams.
The curriculum includes:
- Dispensing operations and prescription preparation.
- Stock-taking and inventory prescription.
- Counting or pouring medications into dispensing containers.
- Billing and cash-register handling.
- How to maintain patient medication records.
Other online pharmacy technician schools and schools which include courses for pharmacy technician certification online amongst the many other courses and programs that they offer include Kaplan University, South University, the Ultimate Medical Academy, Allied Schools, and Virginia College.
Resources For Pharmacy Technician Students
- American Association of Pharmacy Technicians: They provide continuing education programs which pharmacy technicians can access in order to keep up with the changes in the industry and keep their skills updated. Their career centre page also affords employers the space to post jobs and techs to post their resumes.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics-Pharmacy Technicians: This site offers all the updated information regarding the career of the pharmacy technician.
- National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA): A good resource for available pharmacy technician jobs, upcoming conventions, information on continuing education courses, and current industry news.
- Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians: A good resource for study aides, training materials, and practice exams.
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB): This board administers the NCCA accredited national certification program for pharmacy technicians. A good resource for anything and everything to do with the certification exam.
Hopefully this article has given you food for thought and answered all the questions that you had about online pharmacy technician schools and has helped you to make the correct decision for your future.