Do You Need a Degree to Be a Pharmacy Tech? (And Everything Else You Need to Know)
What is a Pharmacy Technician?
A Pharmacy Technician is an entry-level health care professional that can be found working alongside Pharmacists, Doctors, and Nurses to prepare and package medications prescribed for patients and keep up with inventory for a pharmacy. Pharmacy Technicians may also be responsible for some administrative tasks for a pharmacy such as processing insurance claims and filing paperwork.
Where do Pharmacy Technicians work and what are their salaries?
After completing a high school diploma or GED, along with a PTCB recognized diploma program and pharmacy technician certification exams (CPhT), Pharmacy Technicians can work in a variety of environments that distribute and fill prescription medications. Many Pharmacy Techs work in retail pharmacies like Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and others that provide drive-thru or walk-in options.
Pharmacy Technicians can also find jobs in hospitals or critical care facilities that have an in-house pharmacy to serve in-patient needs. Other employers include mail-order, institutional, compounding, and specialty pharmacies, as well as settings such as insurance companies, long-term care facilities, and clinics.
Salaries are often dependent on the education required, work experience, and the location and place of work. However, for entry level pharmacy technicians, the pay scale is the same whether you have a degree or certificate. Possible careers and salaries include Pharmacy Aide ($24,988), Pharmacy Technician ($28,890), or with additional schooling, a Pharmacist ($139,624).
Do you need a degree to be a Pharmacy Technician?
No, but it helps.
Here are some reasons why you need a degree to be a pharmacy technician:
You can become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) by completing a certificate or an Associate of Applied Science from an accredited American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) pharmacy technician training program at a community college or vocational school, like Texarkana College.
Each state board of pharmacy decides the eligibility requirements and clinical job training for pharmacy technicians. Texas State Board of Pharmacy requires pharmacy technicians to be nationally certified and apply for licensure to work. National certification, CPhT credential, is granted to students who have taken and successfully passed a national exam. Currently there are two national exam options: the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT) from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
To apply to take a national exam, students must have successfully completed and passed a training program, undergone a background check, or have a certain number of work experience hours. Texarkana College provides four pathways to obtaining national certification.
In addition to being certified, states may require that Pharmacy Techs apply for and receive a license to practice.
What is the difference between a degree and a certificate?
A pharmacy technology certificate can be finished faster than an associate degree and help you enter the field as a Pharmacy Technician as quickly as possible. The Pharmacy Technology Certificate at Texarkana College is a Level II workforce certificate. This certificate is earned through a 2-semester training program where students earn 30 semester credit hours while obtaining 192 clinical hours. Classes begin each Fall and conclude in the Spring.
Training toward an Associate of Applied Science degree typically mimics that of the Certificate training, except for completing additional basic courses in subjects such as English, mathematics, science, or liberal arts that typically can be completed online and in as little as a semester. Texarkana College offers a flexible pharmacy technician degree to help students start a career as a Pharmacy Technician. An Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology is 30 semester credit hours of pharmacy-specific courses, which include 192 clinical hours, and 30 semester credit hours of academic core courses. This college degree normally takes 2 years but could be completed sooner.
Why should I get a degree in Pharmacy Technology?
A few reasons why you should get a degree in pharmacy technology are:
1. Showcase your commitment to higher learning
Students who enroll in the Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology take classes to receive a well-rounded education. Core courses are taken to further equip students with skills, such as public speaking, problem-solving and critical thinking, that will help them succeed in their careers. An Associate Degree in Pharmacy Technology portrays a commitment to learning more than just pharmacy-specific courses.
2. Earn degrees to create future options for growth
One of the main benefits of a degree in Pharmacy Technology, is the ability to transfer that degree to a 4-year college. Many Pharmacy Technicians go on to further their education and careers in the pharmacology field. With the starting salary for a Pharmacy Technician at $28,890 per year, most Pharmacy Techs look for growth opportunities that lead to salary increases.
Students who desire to become Doctors of Pharmacy, PharmD, must complete a Bachelor’s degree to apply to pharmacy school. Pharmaceutical sales representatives require a Bachelor’s degree. The transfer of semester credit hours from Texarkana College to the student’s preferred university is dependent on the matriculation agreement between the two institutions. Earning a degree opens the door for you to continue to grow in your education and your income.
3. Be a role model for those around you
Education brings opportunities and a better quality of life for those who complete, and pharmacy technician programs are no different. Showcase to your family, friends, co-workers, and those around you that education can be a path to a better life by being a role model and completing your degree.
4. Work while completing other degrees
Working as a Pharmacy Technician while continuing an education allows students the ability to earn money while gaining valuable work experience. This will ultimately make you more competitive while applying for graduate programs and more advanced jobs. Find a job flexible with your schedule and pay your way through the rest of your education without having to take out loans or go into debt.
The benefits of a degree in pharmacy technology can grow as far as you go! Once you complete a pharmacy technician program, you can work your way up in the health care industry and expand your horizons to create even more positive outcomes for yourself through your hard work.
You might NOT want a degree in Pharmacy Technology if:
1. You’re looking to finish fast.
An Associate of Applied Science Degree in Pharmacy Technology can only take one more semester to complete than a certificate. However, if you are in a time-crunch looking for quick training to get a job, the certificate may be a better option for you. Texarkana College places both associate degree and certificate graduates in jobs quickly, but certificate grads typically finish a few months earlier than associate degree grads who started at the same time.
2. You’re just trying to complete the pre-requisites necessary for admission to a Pharmacy Doctoral Program
If you’re looking for the long-haul and pursuing admission into a School of Pharmacy Doctoral Program, you may want to explore some other options to start your education. Most Texas Pharmacy Schools require science courses like Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and more to be able to start training to become a Pharmacist. If you are interested in pursuing this path, we recommend you try our Associate of Science in Health Sciences to start your pre-requisite classes to enter a graduate program.
3. You aren’t typically organized
Being organized and on top of your game is very important in the pharmaceutical field, because Pharmacy Technicians are handling potential life-altering medications. Pharmacy Techs have a large responsibility to patients and customers to ensure that they keep insurance paperwork, laws, and pharmaceutical principles always top of mind to ensure nobody is harmed through wrongful disbursement of medications. If you aren’t the most organized person, you may want to look for another career option that doesn’t have as many high-stakes situations.
What skills would I need to be a good Pharmacy Technician?
- Critical Thinking
- Problem Solving
- Technical Proficiency
- Cultural Awareness
- Safety Awareness
Can I do more than be a Pharmacy Technician with an Associate in Pharmacy Technology?
Texarkana College’s Pharmacy Technician Program has graduates that are now Pharmacists, Nurses, Educators, Business Owners, and beyond.
A recent graduate from the TC Pharmacy Technician program is now completing her Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and is working at Wake Village Elementary School. This student gained confidence while at Texarkana College and has transformed their life.
Our instructors write letters of recommendation and help students find a job upon graduation. Many of our Pharmacy Technician students go on to nursing school, pharmacy school, and other allied health programs.
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