Pharmacy technician schools:
What should you look for?

It is difficult to choose among all of the pharmacy technician schools that are out there. But picking the right one is the way to ensure your success and ultimate happiness. There are a few things to think about before deciding on the right pharmacy tech school for you.

Some Basics and Background

One of the first things to consider when selecting a school is whether the program will fit your lifestyle. It is quite important that you ensure your success through selecting the program that allows you to complete your studies while taking care of your current obligations.

Although many pharmacy technicians are trained "on the job", many employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians.

Training is offered by some hospitals, career schools, vocational/technical colleges, and community colleges. Most pharmacy tech schools include both classroom and laboratory work in such areas as medical and drug (pharmaceutical) terminology, calculations, record-keeping, techniques, and laws and ethics. An important part of the studies includes learning about medication names, actions, doses, and uses.

Important Things to Look For

Accreditation is an important qualification for any school. Learn more from this video interview we did with a pharmacy technician instructor:

Of course, your end goal with going through a pharm tech school program is to GET A JOB. So, it is vital to find a school that offers job placement services (also called clerkships, internships, or externships) where students receive hands-on training at actual pharmacy sites. Make sure you ask about this when you obtain information from a prospective school.

Getting Certified

The final result of going through a training program is to get certified. Most employers prefer to hire certified pharmacy technicians (CPhTs). Some states require that you pass a certification exam that proves your grasp of the essentials. While some states don't require this exam, it is still a huge advantage in landing a job if you have a solid educational background. Here's a great resource for preparing for the certification exam.

Tip from a Pro

We interviewed another pharmacy technician instructor and here's the info he'd like you to know.

by Dewayne Dorman, CPhT

Important Aspects to Look For When Choosing Among Pharmacy Technician Schools

In my State of Utah, the school program must be accredited through the Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing, or DOPL. When looking for a program among all the pharmacy technician schools out there, check with your state’s requirements and that the program is accepted. They may even give employers that are qualified to perform on-the-job training.

For states that do not have requirements, check with the program as to which certification exam they prepare you for, PTCB or ExCPT. Then, check with the employers in your area as to which certification they will accept or prefer.

Planning to Transfer Credits?

If you plan on continuing your education, say you plan on getting your pharmacist or a medical degree, then check with those colleges for the transferability of the courses you’ll be taking in a former pharmacy technician training program. Just because you receive a diploma doesn’t mean that your credits will transfer to other schools.

I share my experiences with students in hopes that they recognize that they can find a rewarding career in the pharmacy industry whether they decide to go on to pharmacy college, move to a managed care position, or remain a pharmacy technician. There will be many opportunities to grow.

Dewayne is a CPhT who started his career by working as a cashier and was then promoted to pharmacy technician. He has 9 years of experience working in retail, and is currently a network manager for a cooperative of independent pharmacies. He has worked in hospital inpatient, prior authorizations, pharmacy auditing, pharmacy operations, and formulary management. He has a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and is an adjunct instructor in a pharmacy technician program at a career college. Dewayne, his wife, and four children live in Salt Lake City.

Learn about becoming a pharmacy technician instructor here.

Learn more about getting certified and the pharmacy technician test here.

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