A pharmacy technician is a health care provider who performs pharmacy-related functions, generally working under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of locations (usually in community, retail, and hospital pharmacies), but can also work for long-term care facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturers, third-party insurance companies, computer software companies, or in government or teaching. Job duties include dispensing prescription drugs and other medical devices to patients and instructing on their use. They may also perform administrative duties in pharmaceutical practice, such as reviewing prescription requests with doctor's offices and insurance companies to ensure correct medications are provided and payment is received.
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Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists by performing duties such as measuring and analyzing the quality of food and agricultural products. Duties range from performing agricultural labor with added recordkeeping duties to laboratory testing with significant amounts of office work, depending on the particular field the technician works in.
If you prefer flexibility and freedom for your studies, an online program may be right for you. Many people have full-time jobs and families to take care of, so the online option is a great fit for them. Getting your pharmacy technician degree online allows for the same quality of instruction as on-campus programs, but you have the ability to study when you want. If you’re having trouble with a particular topic, it’s convenient to be able to go back to the online content to review it as many times as you need.
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.
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.
After obtaining technical school education, an associate degree, or work training, the technician may take a certification exam. Exam preparation may also be provided by some employers. Examinations are offered by two certifying bodies. The first is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), which is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The second is the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technician (ExCPT) offered by the National Healthcare Association (NHA). Upon successful completion of the examination, the candidate is granted certification. The technician must then complete continuing education to maintain certification.
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