A typical pharmacy technician program lasts from six months to two years and includes instruction on topics surrounding medical knowledge, pharmaceuticals, and customer service. (See a list of recommended programs here.) These classes can touch on many aspects of the trade, including medical law, drugs and treatments, and pharmacy practices.
Some typical pharmacy technician classes can include:
- Medical and pharmaceutical terminology
- Dosage calculations
- Drug reactions
- Pharmacy record keeping
- Interpreting prescriptions
- Pharmacy law
- Dosage forms
- Drug preparation
- Compounding of prescribed medications
Pharmacy Technician Externships
As part of a pharmacy technician degree program, students may participate in a clinical externship. There, they will use the knowledge they gained in the classroom portion of the program to perform the duties of a pharmacy technician in a live setting, such as in a hospital or retail pharmacy. They work under the supervicion of a pharmacist or manager, who reports their performance to the class instructor to contribute to their overall grade.
Some pharmacy tech graduates may continue as an employee at their externship site after graduation.
After graduation, a pharmacy technician may choose to become certified by taking an exam from either the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT). In some states certification is required, so check your state’s stipulations. Even if certification isn’t required, it gives the pharmacy tech a distinct advantage when it comes to finding a job. Click to learn more about pharmacy tech certification.
After some time working in a pharmacy, some techs use the experience as a stepping stone to return to school and become a licensed pharmacist. The first-hand knowledge gained handling medicine, learning the business and interacting with patients makes the pharmacy technician position an invaluable experience.
Click to see what pharmacy technician programs are available in your area. You can also see a list of top pharmacy technician schools, or find out about pharmacy technician degrees.