Pharmacy technicians are responsible for handling all aspects of the prescription fulfillment process and assisting the pharmacist with day-to-day operations. Aspiring pharmacy techs can complete a one-year diploma or certification program at a pharmacy technician school or a two-year associate degree program. This career guide provides in-depth information about pharmacy technician training, careers and job opportunities in this fast-growing field.
The AVTA exists to promote interest in the discipline of veterinary anesthesia. The Academy will provide a process by which veterinary technicians may become certified as a Veterinary Technician Specialist-Anesthesia. The veterinary technician who becomes certified as a VTS (Anesthesia) demonstrates superior knowledge in the care and management of anesthesia cases.
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.
The California State Board of Pharmacy is managed by the California Department of Consumer Affairs. It was established in 1891 in order to regulate the practice of pharmacy and sale of poisons in the State of California. As of 2009, the Board consisted of seven pharmacists and six public members, for a total of thirteen members. All seven pharmacists and four public members were appointed by the governor of the state. The remaining two were appointed by the Assembly Speaker and Senate Rules Committee.
There are many scopes of the workplace for the Certified Pharmacy Technician. In a retail setting, a CPhT works under the direct supervision of a pharmacist who dispenses prescription medication (tablets, capsules, gels, ointment, creams, suspensions, injections, and inhalation medications), and must be familiar with over-the-counter areas as well as third party insurance billing processes. In an inpatient setting, the CPhT works throughout the hospital, packing and dispensing medications in satellite pharmacies and to the various nursing units; compounding intravenous medication while using aseptic technique; narcotic medication dispensing and inventorial procedures; as well as documenting patients' weight, height, drug allergies and other needed information in medication records.
In early 2017, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) held a national stakeholder meeting to develop industrywide consensus on qualifications and standards for advanced practice and entry-level technicians.4 Attendees drafted recommendations for the advanced practice certification, education, entry-level requirements, and regulation of technicians. As a result of this meeting, the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the PTCB have implemented more stringent and uniform requirements regarding certification, education, and continuing education for technicians, with new standards for ACPE accreditation and PTCB certification taking effect in January 2019 and January 2020, respectively.5,6 The PTCB has also developed a second certification program focused specifically on sterile compounding.7
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 75% of pharmacy technicians in the U.S. work in a retail setting, such as an independently owned drugstore, a mass retailer chain, or a mail-order or online pharmacy. An additional 16% of pharmacy technician jobs were in hospitals, while others worked for nursing homes, pharmaceutical wholesalers, or the Federal Government. To work in any of these settings, certain requirements must be met. Requirements vary by state.
Two organizations offer certification. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification requires a high school diploma and the passing of an exam. Applicants for the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) certification must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, and have completed a training program or have 1 year of work experience. Technicians must recertify every 2 years by completing 20 hours of continuing education courses.
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Veterinary technicians have been educated in the care and handling of animals, the basic principles of normal and abnormal life processes, and in many laboratory and clinical procedures. In general, veterinary technicians obtain 2-4 years of post-high school education and have an Associate's or Bachelor's degree in veterinary technology. They must pass a credentialing examination and keep up-to-date with continuing education to be considered licensed/registered/certified (the term used varies by state) veterinary technicians.
The Associate’s program at Navarro College is based at their campus in the town of Corsicana. This public college has in the order of 9,999 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Tuition fees for in-district students are generally around $2,218 and are $3,568 and $5,068 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost around $1,581, depending on the program chosen.
There are primarily two levels of education and training for entry to this occupation—a 2-year program for veterinary technicians and a 4-year program for veterinary technologists. Most entry-level veterinary technicians have a 2-year degree, usually an associate degree, from an accredited community college program in veterinary technology, in which courses are taught in clinical and laboratory settings using live animals. A few colleges offer veterinary technology programs that are longer and that may culminate in a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. These 4-year colleges, in addition to some vocational schools, also offer 2-year programs in laboratory animal science. Search for schools that provide training for this career.
Pima Medical Institute offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are based at their Houston campus in the city of Houston. The majority of of the school’s 993 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Tuition fees for the Vet Tech program are likely to be in the order of $12,024 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $743. Program completion is usually 8 months.
Clinics and animal hospitals have increased their use of vet techs to provide general care and lab work. This demand has led to a much faster than average projected job growth through 2026. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that veterinarians are employing veterinary technologists and technicians instead of veterinary assistants because of their higher skill level.
Lone Star College System offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are based at their campus in the city of The Woodlands, Texas. The college has in the region of 69,395 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-district students are usually about $1,504 and are $3,184 and $3,544 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Learning materials may cost in the order of $2,000, although this will vary with the program.
To accommodate work and family obligations, distance learning is an option for many students wishing to earn a degree in veterinary technology from home. The AVMA accredits several distance-learning courses that meet the same standards of accreditation as traditional programs and include a clinical component. Students fulfill the clinical training through sponsorship by a licensed veterinarian.
Technicians work in a variety of settings, including laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices. Technicians who work in processing plants and agricultural settings may face noise from processing and farming machinery, extreme temperatures, and odors from chemicals or animals. They may need to lift and carry objects, and be physically active for long periods of time.