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Selecting Your Pharmacy Technician School

By: CareerFactsheet editors- Updated: Aug 24, 2012

When people begin to look into a career as a pharmacy technician they will initially have many questions. This can include the basics of what to expect as a pharmacy technician as well as questions regarding education. While come people begin to look into this kind of career directly out of high school, others consider it once they have already been working for several years. No matter what a person's situation, however, becoming a pharmacy technician can be a deeply rewarding career choice which offers job security, good pay and a quick return on their education investment.

Career Overview

To put it simply, a pharmacy technician's job is varied and multifaceted. He or she will be responsible for the day to day running of the pharmacy as an office, dispensary and work environment. Typical responsibilities include order supplies, cleaning and sterilizing equipment, checking orders, handling billing questions and preparing prescriptions while working directly with a licensed pharmacist. Depending on where they work they can also expect room for advancement, particularly when thy work within a large hospital. Generally the salary for a pharmacy technician is quite good. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2011 the average salary for a pharmacy technician was around $30,000 annually or just over $14 per hour. This career does require an Associate's degree as a pharmacy technician and many programs are available through community colleges, specialized schools and online programs.

Pharmacy Technician Schools and Programs

Programs to become a pharmacy technician take two years to complete. There are options which can give students a certificate as a pharmacy technician in much less time, but that certificate is not a degree. While they may be able to find work with a certificate they will not have the same earning power as someone who has gone through the full two year program. These programs give students a comprehensive review of pharmacy terms, rules, procedures and education including chemistry and biology. They will also offer students a clinical internship where they can begin to learn more in a real world setting before they ever leave school. Finally, these programs will prepare students to take their own state examinations, which are necessary in order to become a fully licensed pharmacy technician for their state.

Is Online Learning the Right Choice?

Online Pharmacy Technician College Students

Among the choices in pharmacy technician programs are online schools. These online learning programs are especially attractive for students who may already be working as the vast majority of the work can be completed on their own schedule and in their own time. However, students considering online learning options need to be honest about their own level of focus and determination. An online university will not offer the same kind of in person motivation working with fellow students can offer. The pressure with be on the student himself to be disciplined about sitting down and working through modules on their own, completing coursework on time and generally staying motivated to complete the full program.

But for the properly motivated and focused student, online learning can provide unparalleled freedom and flexibility when it comes to completing the course. Students who are already working full time can fit in coursework and class time around their own schedule. This can mean spending time on the coursework itself over their lunch, reviewing reading before they go into work and catching up on class videos or interactive presentations in the evening.

Due Diligence on researching Online and On-Campus Schools

Whether students prefer to work from home or through a more traditional college there are things to look out for. Not all schools are run as reputable institutions and it is up to the student himself to research a school and ensure they offer proper training. Here we'll review the top 3 pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Is the School Fully Accredited?

School accreditation means that a school is a recognized education establishment. Their credit will transfer from one school to another and the degree students receive will be accepted by any employer or other school. Before agreeing to any program with a school be sure you see they are an accredited school with a solid reputation and the ability to transfer credits.

What Are you Getting For the Cost?

Pharmacy Technicians Working

Not all schools are priced the same. This is especially true when comparing physical schools with their online counterparts. Compare the cost of tuition along with the services and courses the school provides. Most schools offer the same standard classes and training. Part of the education they offer should always include an internship with a real, working pharmacy. This is a standard part of any pharmacy technician program. Watch the small print and details in order to make sure you're not paying two or three times the tuition for the same education.

Research and Review

Unfortunately the world is full of unscrupulous people and a school can tell you just about anything they think you want to hear. No matter how glowing a school brochure or promotional ad may seem, take the time t do some independent research on your own. Simply typing in the name of the schools and Reviews online should lead you to posted reviews from past students all over the Internet. These honest and unbiased reviews can hep you avoid truly bad schools while taking note of ones that have received positive feedback from past and present students.

Choosing to become a pharmacy technician can be a rewarding choice both in terms of a career where you have the opportunity to help others as well as the chance to make good money and have opportunities for advancement. The best way to ensure your future as a pharmacy technician will be bright is to take the time to pick the right school for you. Choosing a community college or specialized school with a local campus provides support and personal help. Online education options provide increased flexibility and the ability to work at your own pace. Being honest about your own discipline, dedication and what you need in order to succeed will help you to make the right choice.

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