possession of associate degree in Pharmacy Technology OR Any other course that provides a minimum of 240 hours of instruction as specified in Title 16 California Code of Regulation section 1793.6(c) OR A training course accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) OR Graduation from a school of pharmacy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE);
As the job description expands, career opportunities increase, and the outlook for employment as a pharmacy technician is very strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, with a large percentage of the population aging the field is expected to increase by 12 percent through 2026, which is faster than average. This means that now is an excellent time to become a pharmacy technician. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
The growth of pharmacists’ roles across health care settings has led to the need for a comparable evolution in the responsibilities and roles of pharmacy technicians. Traditionally, technician tasks have focused on cashiering, insurance claim processing, medication preparation, and order entry, usually within a community or hospital setting. Advancement opportunities have been limited to lead technician or supervisory roles, medication and supply purchasing, and sterile products compounding because of a lack of promotion opportunities.
With the appropriate amount of training and experience, pharmacy technicians may be promoted to supervisory roles, may seek specialization (e.g., oncology, nuclear pharmacy), or may pursue further education and training to become a pharmacist. Some technicians gain specialized skills in sterile products admixture, pharmacy automation, and health information systems. An ASHP survey of pharmacy practice managers in August 2009 revealed 56 percent of organizations offer career advancement opportunities for technicians. In an ASHP survey of pharmacy technicians, 81 percent indicated they expect to perform duties of a pharmacy technician for five or more years.
The structure of online pharmacy technician courses usually follows a “module” setup, where each section is its own module, most likely followed by an exam that you must pass to be sent the next module. Another program structure is called “distance learning.” If your program is labeled as such, you will have correspondence with your school via mail, email or online. There may be instances where your program requires that you attend certain classes on campus or at another convenient campus location.
An individual enrolled in a technician training course or program, or an individual who has not previously worked as a pharmacy technician and who accepts technician employment in an Iowa pharmacy, must register as a pharmacy technician trainee within 30 days of starting technician training or employment. A technician trainee must become a nationally certified pharmacy technician within 12 months of starting technician employment or training.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is the accrediting body for pharmacy technician programs. ASHP-certified programs are available at many community colleges and vocational schools. Most certificate programs can be completed within a year or less, while associate degree programs typically take two years to complete. Coursework covers technical and practical training in the following areas:
Since most certification and degree programs for pharmacy technicians require hands-on training through an externship or similar training, it’s important to determine what types of partnerships the school has secured for externships. Some schools offer externship placement as a courtesy to students, while others require students to seek out and apply for training on their own. In either situation, students are typically responsible for organizing their own transportation to the pharmacy, lab or other approved facility to complete this component of the program.
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