Degree Requirement for Pharmacy Technician
There’s a world of jobs within the health sector, providing fulfilling, long-term employment opportunities. If you want a rewarding career that’s also stable, becoming a pharmacy technician is one of the best roles out there.
But, what degree do you need to be a pharmacy technician certification board? Or do you require a degree at all?
This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about becoming a pharmacy tech. We will walk you through the prerequisites to getting into pharmacy technician programs, including whether a degree is the best course of action or not.
What Do Pharmacy Technicians Do?
Pharmacy techs are highly skilled individuals who work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist.
They have various duties, but the main area of concern for pharmacy technicians is accurately dispensing prescription medications. Members of the public coming into a pharmacy will sometimes have a lot of questions regarding their medication. These queries must be communicated clearly and coherently to the pharmacist in charge.
There will be a lot of patient interaction, so you’ll hopefully enjoy speaking to a wide variety of people. This is something that pharmacy technician training will not be able to fully teach you; therefore, social interaction should be a personal attribute that comes naturally to you.
You’ll likely be in charge of filling prescriptions at your pharmacy or part of a team that does. You’ll need to measure, count, weigh, pour, or potentially mix the medication your patients require.
Once the pharmacist in charge has verified the perception, pharmacy techs will choose the correct container, prepare the label and place the label on the container. There will also be instances where you will be responsible for filling out insurance claim forms and keeping patient profiles and records up-to-date and accurate.
When you become a pharmacy technician, there is a variety of environments that you could be working in. Anywhere that distributes medications will need qualified pharmacy techs.
Some pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies within retail, like Walgreens and Walmart. Some will choose to work in critical care facilities, which will provide an in-house pharmacy service for their in-patients.
On average, a pharmacy technician will earn $35,000 per year.
Does a Pharmacy Technician Need a Degree?
Not all pharmacy technicians will be required to have been part of any pharmacy technician degree programs. Some employers will only require a high school diploma to become a pharmacy technician, without the need for licenses – in certain states.
If you have a degree, however, you’ll stand out from the crowd and be much more likely to be accepted for a job than someone with a high school diploma or certificate (which we will discuss in more detail later).
Completing a degree shows your dedication and drive, and it is likely you’ll find much more success in your field and opportunities for continuous growth in education. And, the higher you move up the career ladder thanks to your degree, the more income you will earn.
Pharmacy Technician Degree vs. Certificate Programs: What’s The Difference?
You might be forgiven for thinking that a degree and a certificate are practically the same things. However, you’d be wrong.
Having a degree in pharmacy shows an employer that you already have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the job you are applying for. Since you have spent many years studying the subject.
A degree will provide you with a detailed understanding of the legal, mathematical, medical, and pharmaceutical necessities of pharmacy technicians’ careers. You’ll also have a rounded knowledge of social sciences and perhaps even psychology or communications, which will help when dealing with a wide variety of patients with a range of complex needs.
Those with more education behind them have been proven to be better communicators than those without, and this skill is a big part of the role of a pharmacy technician
A degree needn’t take a long time to complete. In fact, an associate’s degree in pharmacy can take as little as two years at a community college. However, a full degree will be preferable. It will lay the foundations required for later success as you’ll be able to transfer credits at a later date if you wish to do so,
In short, having a pharmacy technician program under your belt is something that the majority of employers want to see when it comes to hiring successful pharmacy techs.
The knowledge, and critical thinking skills, as well as the range of modules you complete as part of a pharmacy technician program, will stand you in very good stead for the hard work ahead as a pharmacy tech.
When it comes to certificate programs, these are much easier to complete than a degree. Usually, these courses take less than a year to complete. Therefore, you won’t gain just as much of a comprehensive education as you would with a degree.
Why Should I Get A Degree In Pharmacy Technology?
Completing a pharmacy technician degree program isn’t always vital to becoming a pharmacy technician. But, there are many reasons why having a degree in pharmacy technology is a very good idea.
Gain life skills and prove your dedication to your chosen career
Prospective pharmacy techs who have been to university will receive a well-rounded, comprehensive, and detailed education. This will allow them to excel in their field. The skills they will gain over the duration of their college life include:
- effective communication
- public speaking
- critical thinking
- and much more
Although gaining these skills doesn’t always happen at just university, it is a great way to become more familiar with the important life skills required to excel as a pharmacy technician.
Having a degree in pharmacy technology also shows a dedication to the job and a clear foresight in your career path. This could give you the upper hand when applying for a pharmacy technician job over someone who doesn’t have a degree in a related field, or a degree at all, for that matter.
2. Create pathways for growth and development in your career
Having both a degree in pharmacy technology as well as on-the-job pharmacy technician training means that you can process from a pharmacy tech to other growth opportunities. These will lead to more experience and a higher income.
There are lots of pharmacy technicians who climb the job ladder after beginning with a solid foundation in pharmacy technology.
3. Be a role model for those around you
There’s no doubt that education brings a wealth of opportunities and offers many a better quality of life. Those with degrees are generally seen as more intelligent than those without. It sets a good example for your friends, family, and peers. On top of that, it shows that you are committed and fully dedicated to your choice of career.
4. Earn while you learn
There may be instances where you can study part-time or full-time at university while also working as a pharmacy technician. You’ll be gaining invaluable work experience while also learning lots of theory, legislation, and science behind the job.
This will always increase your chances when you want to apply for a more advanced career within pharmacy or the wider health sector.
What Are Pharmacy Technician University Courses Like?
There’s a range of courses and subjects you’ll be required to take when it comes to a pharmacy technology degree. However, it’s important to remember that each university will have its own specific topics. Yet, there will be core modules that most courses will have, including the topics of:
Let’s look at each of these subjects in a bit more detail.
To be a certified pharmacy technician, you’ll need to be proficient in maths. There will be four different dosage systems that you will need to understand. These are:
- and metric
You also need to have a firm grasp of basic accounting, as a minimum. However, the more you know about accounting, the better. The reason behind this is that you’ll be in full control of federally regulated pharmaceuticals. So you’ll need to be able to manage full accounting of them.
As part of your degree, you will also be required to take courses in biology. A good understanding of the human body and its functions is a must when it comes to being a certified pharmacy technician. You’ll do extensive anatomy and physiology studies, and you may be able to elect to take on additional biology-related courses if you wish.
To become a pharmacy technician, chemistry will form an intrinsic part of your studies. You’ll need to have good laboratory skills for mixing oral compounds, for example. So, it’s easy to understand why chemistry takes up such a sizable chunk of a certified pharmacy technician university degree program.
On top of lab skills, you’ll need to have a sound working knowledge of chemical reactions, particularly how chemicals react in the human body.
A comprehensive grasp of the working of businesses is a must, considering you will be an important cog in a pharmacy business once you graduate. You’ll learn about health insurance, how to comply with the law, and much more surrounding the day-to-day operation of a pharmacy.
If you are studying for a full-time degree, it’s usual to work on as many modules as possible. There will be certain courses within the degree that will be elective. Consider studying modules such as communications, psychology, or sociology.
These subjects will be very handy when dealing with people from all different walks of life, as well as those suffering from not just physical illnesses but mental health complexities too.
A wide range of elective courses is available for future pharmacy technicians. It’s worthwhile to understand what your prospective university has available in its pharmacy technician training program. Some of the best elective modules to become a pharmacy technician are:
- Pharmacy Law & Ethics
- Pharmaceutical Chemistry
- Healthcare Systems
- Medical Terminology
Once you finish university or college and become a fully-fledged and certified pharmacy technician, the learning doesn’t cease. In fact, there will be a lot of on-the-job training that courses simply can’t teach you. And you’ll be required to continue taking exams every two years. This exam is known as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) is administered by either the National Healthcare Association (NHA) or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Prior to taking the exam, you must have completed 20 hours of education, as a minimum. This includes activities such as seminars, lectures, workshops, conferences, or college courses.
You’ll be required to keep a full and detailed record of your education over the two-year period and then submit it online prior to applying to take the test. As well as this, there is a fee required for recertification when you are a pharmacy technician.
Final Thoughts On How To Become A Pharmacy Technician
While having a degree is not always a prerequisite to becoming a pharmacy technician, it can help get you on the career ladder and cope with the complexities of the job within the healthcare system.
However, a degree won’t teach you everything it takes to become a pharmacy technician. As a pharmacy tech, you’ll be required to have a keen attention to detail, be diligent, trustworthy, and able to manage in a fast-paced, dynamic environment.
As pharmacy techs, you’ll also be required to have invaluable communication skills; you’ll need to be able to speak with people from all walks of life.
While it’s not an easy job, it’s a highly rewarded employment opportunity for the right people, with many pathways to get there. These pharmacy technician programs range from a high school diploma to a certificate from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or a degree.