In this article, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about getting your pharmacy technician certification.
The World Wide Web is many things for many people. For some, the internet is like a massive virtual playground that will never run out of fun, weird, and entertaining stuff to offer. For others however, it’s the bridge that allows them to keep in touch and socialize with friends and relatives that are miles away. BUT there’s another group of people that uses the internet as a valuable tool for educating themselves and giving their professional career that much-needed boost.
The demand for pharmacy technicians is increasing at a rapid rate and as such, has exceeded projected estimates for job growth in the field. While this demand has increased, many more responsibilities have been attached to this role over time. That is why it’s important that you supply any potential employer with the qualifications and professionalism that can reassure them that you are capable of completing any task that is placed in front of you.
Back in 2010, pharmacy technicians (CPhT) held about 334,400 jobs. Not to mention the figures and projections from the US Dept. of Labor Statistics reveal a very bright job outlook with faster growth and greater job opportunities (through 2018) compared to other occupations that require on-the-job training and experience.
In 2009, pharmacy technicians have enjoyed an average hourly wage of $13.49, which translates to an annual salary of $28,070. And you can bet that these figures have increased since then.
And here’s even better news: While they are required to work full-time on brick-and-mortar pharmacies and drug stores, it is possible to get certified while in your PJ’s thanks to accredited online certification bodies!
Why a Certificate is so Important
Certificate programs have been created to help aspiring technicians further their careers as well as teach new students what is to be expected when taking up a career as certified pharmacy technician. Most programs range between 12 to 16weeks in length, during which time the student will be taught how to handle patients with practical experience, the theoretical aspects of the pharmaceutical field, as well as how to show adeptness in pharmaceutical calculations.
Although a certificate is not absolutely necessary everywhere to work, it may very well place you at the top of the list when applying for a job under a certified pharmacist. For this reason, it is vitally important that you consider becoming certified in the field.
As mentioned earlier, the requirements for pharmacy technicians are NOT as stringent (it only requires on-the-job training and previous experience) compared to other medicine-related careers.
However, the faster and massive career growth it is experiencing has spurred state pharmacy boards and employers to increasingly expect a HIGH degree of knowledge and professionalism before issuing a license or even accepting registration from applicants. YES, the world of pharmaceuticals just got even more competitive…BUT having an pharmaceutical technician certification can give you the edge!
We’re not even talking about the flexibility in schedule and pace that these online certificate courses allow you to enjoy…which is arguably the BIGGEST reasons why more and more people are moving to distance learning to expand their skills and education.
Where To Get Trained And Certified
In the United States, there’s no overseeing agency that governs and regulates the training. Each state in the country has their set of regulations that govern the licensure of new technicians.
Having said that, there are independent organizations and schools that provide training and preparation for the two National Examinations by PTCB and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT).
The National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA) – the largest association of CPhTs. While their program provides a certificate of completion (which is always a nice addition to your curriculum vitae), it is mostly geared towards preparing students for PTCB’s and ICPT’s national certification exams.
Make no mistake about it: NPTA’s online training program isn’t a degree and it doesn’t claim to be one. However, NPTA’s certification and training program has A LOT of benefits and advantages to offer.
For one thing, the association is run by professional CPhTs who have a deep understanding of what it takes NOT just to pass the national certification exams but to ACTUALLY work. As you’ll read on later, CPhT schools over the internet that provide real-life career training are to be preferred over those who stick to online only.
Here are other organizations and universities that provide online training for budding technicians all over the country:
- University of Florida (live web training for Florida and Virginia students)
- Ashworth College (with a program length that lasts as short as 6 months)
- Daymar College (accredited by ACICS)
- Brighton College (includes career services like resume building and cover letter assistance)
- Thomas Edison State College (provides mentor-supported, 450-hour program)
…and those are just to name a few!
Keeping Your Certifications Current
Upon the completion of the program, students will be able to apply to take their certification exam, which is offered by the PTCB. The certificate will last a maximum of two years. Once two years has passed, the pharmacist will need to retake the program to ensure the certified pharmacist is educated on updates within his or her field.
You can enroll in most programs over the web, though students must attend the certified courses. There are various different programs that concentrate on a number of concepts and teachings that are central to the pharmaceutical field. Knowing which concept will improve your skills is quite important before you enroll.
3 Things to Watch For When Picking An Online CPhT Training Program
Regardless of the school or certification program you’re setting your sights on, you won’t have to worry about the school’s location and other physical barriers that you have to put up with. And that’s nice as you have one less thing to worry about.
Having said that, not all CPhT programs are created equal. Here are three factors you need to keep your eyes peeled for when looking for a good training program:
One of the BIGGEST and NICEST perks of online certification is its speedy completion time. You want to pick a school that provides a training program that can be completed within 12 months or less (without watering down the information of course).
Extensive And Effective Career Training
Preparing you to sit and pass the certification exam is one thing…and gearing you up for real-life work before you even enter the workforce is another. You want a school that provides both – one whose program requires you to intern with community and hospital pharmacies.
It may seem like required internships defeats the purpose of taking up a course on the web, but its value in providing you with the much-needed hands-on experience cannot be overstated! True, accuracy in pharmaceutical calculations; familiarity with medical terminology; handling of computer-aided billing; and other essential skills are taught in the online training program…BUT it’s the internship that reinforces these new skills in preparation for ACTUAL work as a CPhT.
The Required Financial Investment
The training cost varies by school, with colleges and universities charging per credit hour. A program usually has 36 credits or more, and it’s NOT at all unusual for each credit hour to cost up to $400!
Yes, it can be very stressful on your pocket so it is important to evaluate all of your education options before taking the leap. If possible, go for an online pharmacy technician certification school that has financial aid advisors who can answer your financial and tuition questions.
Although you do not necessarily require a pharmacy technician certification to work, it may very well place you at the top of the list when applying for a job under a certified pharmacist. For this reason, it is vitally important that you consider becoming certified in the field.