Pharmacy Technician
Schools and Degrees

The pharmaceutical industry is growing rapidly, and with the baby boomer generation aging up, job prospects in the industry are expected to be on the rise as well. Becoming a pharmacy technician can put you at the forefront of a different kind of patient care, responsible for both prescription and over the counter medications. This page will go in-depth into the varying levels of degrees one may pursue with the goal of becoming a pharmacy technician, including certifications, degrees and program information.

Schools and Programs

Pharmacy technicians support licensed pharmacists in a number of ways. They may measure, prepare and track medications; serve as intermediaries between pharmacists, customers, prescribing physicians and suppliers; and, in some states, compound certain medications. Mistakes can be costly, if not fatal, so pharmaceuticals and the professionals who work with them are tightly regulated. Rules regarding what duties pharmacy technicians perform and how they prepare for the job market vary by state, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, training and certification requirements are getting steeper.

Pharmacy technician certification verifies that candidates have certain practical skills – skills that require very strict training. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the National Healthcareer Association both require certification candidates to meet minimum education or work requirements as well as pass a national exam. Some of these future technicians continue to learn on the job, but an ever-growing number get their start in formal pharmacy technician schools. The American Society of Health System Pharmacists has accredited more than 200 pharmacy technician schools in the United States. Readers can visit the AMSHSP to learn more about how accreditation works and why it matters.

Vocational Schools

Vocational and career colleges are private institutions that specialize in workforce-ready training and credentials. Vocational pharmacy technician schools offer the same certificates, diplomas and associate degrees as other schools, sometimes in an accelerated format with fewer general education requirements. Online programs are also common. Typical coursework includes training in areas like pharmacy law, math and ethics, with some schools require hands-on clinical internships. Certificates and degrees through accredited vocational pharmacy technician schools meet or exceed training prerequisites for both PTCB and NHA certification exams.

Community Colleges

Community colleges are public institutions that provide both university transfer- and career-oriented certificates and degrees. Though community colleges are sometimes referred to as “2-year” colleges, many offer pharmacy technology programs that can be completed in far less time. These programs usually culminate the same types of certificates and associate degrees available at vocational pharmacy technician schools, but their public status can make them more affordable for in-state residents. Community college pharmacy tech programs sometimes require more general education requirements than career colleges, especially with associate-level programs. This can be a major plus for students considering 4-year and pharmacy schools. Accredited community college certificates and degrees meet or exceed PTCB and NHA certification exam requirements.

4-year schools

No states or certification boards in the United States currently require pharmacy technicians to earn bachelor’s degrees, so 4-year universities typically do not offer programs for them. Bachelor’s degrees in areas like pharmacy and pharmacy science are designed for students who intend to advance to graduate school and, eventually, become licensed pharmacists. The coursework these students complete, however, may satisfy pharmacy technician certification exam requirements. Those who pass can work as pharmacy technicians to get more practical experience in the field, offset education costs and, in some cases, satisfy practical externship requirements.

Pharmacy technician schools

Future pharmacy technicians looking for highly targeted training and plenty of practical experience may want to contact local employers to inquire about in-house pharmacy technician schools. Larger retail and hospital groups sometimes offer these internal training programs along with other unique benefits. The large national chain Walgreens, for instance, trains new employees through its own ASHP-accredited pharmacy technician program. Students enrolled in the program get hands-on training – as paid employees. They can also earn PTCB certification and participate in pharmacy technician externship programs. Some companies advertise these training programs on their corporate websites, but readers can also contact area employers directly to learn more about their options.

Top Pharmacy Technician Programs: 2016-2017

An increasing number of prospective students who are interested in helping individuals receive and learn about medication are choosing to enroll in pharmacy technician programs. With so many schools offering pharmacy technician programs, the search for the right school may seem overwhelming. To make this search easier, we have listed the top pharmacy technician programs in the country by analyzing factors such as class size, cost of enrollment and program competition rates. View the top-ranking pharmacy technician schools below.

Rank School Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-Teacher Ratio Grad RateDescriptionPlacement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
Arkansas State University - Beebe
99.81 $$$$$ 34% 3 17:1 N/A

To meet the high demands of the healthcare job market, Arkansas State University Beebe Campus offers allied health programs like pharmacy technology. The role of a pharmacy technician is to assist pharmacists in dispensing medications to patients. Under this program, students are required to earn 60 credit hours which can be completed within two years or four semesters. Students need to complete academic coursework and a few weeks of clinical rotation. Graduates of this program are qualified to take the Institute for Certification of Pharmacy Technician exam (ICPT) or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCB). These certifications are necessary so that graduates can obtain employment easily in different pharmaceutical environments.

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Eastern New Mexico University - Roswell Campus
98.47 $$$$$ 5% 2 14:1 N/A

Graduates of the pharmacy technician program at the Eastern New Mexico University Roswell Campus are trained to assist pharmacists by creating patient records, packing and labeling medication and dispensing routine orders. Students who are enrolled in this program are taught by the basic courses within two years or four semesters. Aside from the academic coursework, students are also required to complete a short clinical rotation. Graduates of the program are eligible to take the certification exam and find employment in different health care facilities. The program is offered for the fall semester but the schedule is yet to be announced.

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Central Louisiana Technical Community College
98.21 $$$$$ 20% 2 17:1 N/A

Central Louisiana Technical Community College offers a two-year pharmacy technician program in which students are trained how to professionally assist certified pharmacists to perform their tasks. Certified pharmacy technicians can work in different healthcare facilities like hospitals, drug stores, and nursing care facilities. Students are required to complete a total of 31 credit hours. Aside from learning the academic courses, students are also required to participate in a short clinical internship typically lasting a few weeks. Once the specified credit hours have been accomplished, students are eligible to sit for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCB) to become certified pharmacy technicians.

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Cape Fear Community College
97.77 $$$$$ 9% 2 13:1 N/A

Cape Fear Community College's associate in applied science in pharmacy technology program trains students to support and assist licensed pharmacists in providing medication to patients. This program is available as a daytime program and students are required to complete a maximum of 87 credit hours within four semesters, roughly two years. The students learn through classroom instructions, laboratory study, and practical, hands-on experiences. Aside from completing the required academic credit hours, students must do a clinical internship through an affiliated facility. Upon the completion of the program, students are eligible to take the certification exam.

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Eastern Arizona College
97.75 $$$$$ 26% 2 20:1 N/A

There are many allied health programs offered by the Eastern Arizona College including the associate degree in pharmacy technology. The program trains students for entry-level positions in the healthcare industry. Students are required to complete a minimum of 28 credit units. Aside from the academic coursework, students are also required to perform a few weeks of clinical internship under the supervision of a certified pharmacist. Students need to maintain a grade of C or better for all courses. Upon the completion of the courses, students are required to take the certification exam. They can also pursue a bachelor's degree in pharmacology or other related medical and allied health fields.

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Crowder College
97.62 $$$$$ 18% 2 15:1 N/A

At Crowder College, it's possible to earn a pharmacy technician certificate in 16 weeks. The curriculum prepares adults for entry level pharmacy technician careers at clinics, hospitals and pharmacies. Classes also prepare students to transfer into related associate degree programs at accredited colleges and universities. A recommended plan of study is developed for enrolled students. The certificate program at Crowder College emphasizes pharmacy techniques, pharmacology concepts and business computer applications. An internship and a one hour college orientation are required. As part of the program, students take the national Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT).

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Augusta Technical College
97.17 $$$$$ 20% 2 14:1 N/A

Augusta Technical College supports adults and businesses in east central Georgia. Locations of the school's four campuses are Augusta, Waynesboro, Thomson and Grovetown. The pharmacy technology undergraduate programs are administered within the college's Allied Health Sciences and Nursing division. A two year degree and a diploma are available in pharmacy technology at the school. It takes about two years to earn the associate's degree and 70 weeks to complete the diploma. Program advisors help students develop study plans. Skills that the program aims to equip students with include measuring drugs and heating, grinding and blending chemicals. The program also prepares students for registration with the Georgia Board of Pharmacy.

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Johnston Community College
97.15 $$$$$ 4% 2 16:1 N/A

Johnston Community College's diploma and degree pharmacy technician training programs are accredited by the American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Technical standards built into the training programs enhance students' communications, interpersonal and critical thinking skills. Organizational skills, visual abilities and abilities to prepare, measure and distribute chemicals and drugs are additional takeaways associated with the programs. A total of five semesters and 56 credits are built into the degree option. Students receive at least six clinical hours of training experience during all but the first semester. It takes three semesters and 40 credits to graduate with a diploma.

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Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
97.11 $$$$$ 9% 2 18:1 N/A

Two training options are open to undergraduates seeking educational training at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. The first option is the diploma program. Classes run for three semesters and cover 45 credits. It takes about one and a half years to graduate. The second option is the Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology degree. Five semesters and 71 credits are required to graduate. Classes are narrowly defined and focus on topics like human biology, pharmacology, trends in pharmacology, pharmacy calculation and sterilizing products. Hands on training in a health clinic reinforces classroom learning.

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State Fair Community College
97.00 $$$$$ 14% 2 17:1 N/A

In addition to an Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology, State Fair Community College offers students opportunities to earn a professional and a skills certificate. It takes approximately one year to finish the professional certificate training. Adults can finish the skills certificate training program in 16 weeks. Basic skills gained during all three trainings prepare students to operate computer software, grind and measure drugs and communicate with the general public as well as insurance companies. The college offers students the chance to complete all three training programs on campus or online.

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Durham Technical Community College
97.00 $$$$$ 3% 3 18:1 N/A

Durham Technical Community College's pharmacy technology program is a preparatory training program. Purpose of the program is to prepare students to enter the pharmacy technician field so that they can mix and dispense customer medications. Classroom instruction is supplemented with simulated laboratory lessons. Clinical experience is delivered via an internship at an approved medical facility. Among the approved facilities are the Duke University Medical Center, Person Memorial Hospital and University of North Carolina hospitals. Six semesters are built into the degree program, while the diploma program is comprised of three semesters of learning.

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Casper College
96.96 $$$$$ 42% 2 12:1 N/A

Classroom and clinical based studies offered in Casper College's pharmacy technology courses aim to equip students to work in retail and healthcare environments. Shorter of the college's two credentials is the pharmacy technology certificate. This program can be completed within six months. A two year commitment is required with the associate degree. Human anatomy, pharmacy operations and calculations for compounding are types of core courses in the curriculum. Prerequisites are required to get admitted into both training programs. Minimum GPA in core courses for the certificate and degree programs is a 2.0. Students must possess at least a cumulative 2.3 GPA for both programs.

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North Georgia Technical College
96.62 $$$$$ 1% 2 17:1 N/A

North Georgia Technical College trains pharmacy technology students to work alongside a licensed pharmacists. Clinical experience and entry level pharmacy technician knowledge and abilities are gained through the school's diploma program. Through the associate degree program, students broaden their professional and technical learning. Emphasis of both programs is on chemical preparation, mixing soluble drugs, handling pharmaceuticals and creating and maintaining customer records. General education classes in both curriculums improve communications, critical thinking and problem solving skills. It is recommended that adults seeking to enroll in the college's pharmacy technology programs have strong math skills.

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Western Iowa Tech Community College
96.57 $$$$$ 46% 2 17:1 N/A

Goals of Western Iowa Tech Community College's pharmacy technology classes are career focused. Courses aim to provide students with abilities to pass the national pharmacy technician certification exam and to work in a retail, medical or healthcare setting under a licensed pharmacist's supervision. Required courses in the certificate program introduce students to pharmacy technology. They also cover pharmacology and include a practicum. Required classes in the diploma program cover topics like medical terminology, applied math, anatomy and physiology. The lowest GPA allowed in any class is a 2.0.

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Ashland Community and Technical College
96.53 $$$$$ 7% 2 14:1 N/A

Ashland Community and Technical College offers three certificates, a diploma and a degree pharmacy technology credential. Retail pharmacy technician, pharmacy technician assistant and community pharmacy assistant are the three available certificates. These certificates generally take one year to finish. Students pursuing the pharmacy technician diploma receive training in three required courses that are not covered during the certificate programs. Associated career paths are in hospitals, medical centers, clinics and retail environments. Academic advising and a learning lab are open to pharmacy technology majors. Admissions adhere to a set schedule and are not accepted year round. Acceptance into the programs is selective.

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Lakeshore Technical College
96.45 $$$$$ 19% 2 13:1 N/A

The two term employed pharmacy technology certificate program at Lakeshore Technical College has two start dates. Students can enroll in the program that has a Fall start date or the program that starts in the Spring. Program accreditation is by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. As part of the Interface Project, the college's pharmacy technology curriculum make assistive technologies available upon request to eligible students. Classes are held Monday through Friday. Courses directed related to the occupation teach about subjects like medical terminology, health insurance, pharmacology and drug distribution systems. Lakeshore Technical College also offers a pharmacy services management associate degree.

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Pikes Peak Community College
96.43 $$$$$ 1% 3 23:1 N/A

Pikes Peak Community College pharmacy technology diploma and degree programs combine basic, general education and occupational courses. Both the diploma and degree program align with career paths for pharmacy and medical technicians in retail and healthcare industries. The diploma option is 33 credits. Sixty-four credits make up the degree option. Three prerequisites provide entry into the Associate of Applied Science Pharmacy Technology degree. College Composition and Reading is the five credit hours prerequisite. The second prerequisite, Computer Literacy, is a three credit hour course. Quantitative Literacy, the third prerequisite, is four credit hours long.

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Georgia Northwestern Technical College
96.22 $$$$$ N/A 3 19:1 N/A

Graduates of Georgia Northwestern Technical College's pharmacy technology diploma program could fulfill a variety of medical related tasks. They could update and maintain customer records, prepare prescriptions and monitor and stock inventory. The diploma program is offered at the school's Walker County campus. Classes start twice a year, once in the Spring and again in the Fall. Students must be at least 18 years old to enroll. Training is not limited to the classroom. Students put their knowledge into practice in a simulated clinical setting. Forty of the 56 hours in the program are subject specific.

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Guilford Technical Community College
96.08 $$$$$ 5% 2 20:1 N/A

Guilford Technical Community College's pharmacy technology diploma and associate degree classes are held Monday through Friday. During the trainings, clinical and professional interactions are blended with classes like functional anatomy, physical therapy and pathology. Minimum credit hours needed for the diploma are 37. The associate degree can be completed with 68 credit hours. Students have to meet with an admissions advisor before they are approved for enrollment. A writing, reading or math placement exam may also be required. To get into the associate degree program, graduates of the diploma program must take and pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board test.

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Atlanta Technical College
96.08 $$$$$ 33% 3 16:1 N/A

Four semesters of study are built into Atlanta Technical College's pharmacy technology diploma. Courses provide integrated theory and technical training. At the start of the semester, students select a practicum to finish. The college offers a pharmacy technology practicum and a pharmacy assistant practicum. Both are comprised of 225 contact hours. During the practicum, students receive hands on training in a supervised environment. Immunizations are required to enroll. Prerequisites associated with the practicum are a background check and drug screening. Clinical, theory and technical training prepares students to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification exam.

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Somerset Community College
96.04 $$$$$ 8% 2 18:1 N/A

Somerset Community College teaches the retail pharmacy technician certificate and the pharmacy technician diploma programs at its Laurel campus. Applications are accepted until program class limits of 20 students are reached. All applicants must complete a preadmission interview with a program coordinator. In addition to becoming a certified pharmacy technician, the programs prepare students to compound, package, stock and label prescription drugs. The certificate program is 19 credit hours long. The diploma program takes 39 to 48 credit hours to graduate from. Minimum ACT math scores are necessary to get admitted into the certificate and the diploma programs.

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El Paso Community College
96.04 $$$$$ 3% 2 26:1 N/A

El Paso Community College gets students ready to work in healthcare and retail facilities through its pharmacy technology programs. Academic options that area students can choose from are the pharmacy technology certificate and the pharmacy technology associate degree programs. A one year commitment is required with the certificate program. Minimum time commitment for an associate degree is two years. Strong math, computer, analytical, organizational and communications skills are advantages when entering either program. Post graduation, students should be prepared to pass the national pharmacy technician certification test.

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North Dakota State College of Science
95.96 $$$$$ 31% 2 12:1 N/A

Flexibility is a key takeaway with the North Dakota State College of Science. Classroom and online learning are available. The school also provides academic credits for approved working experience. Disciplines in the North Dakota State College of Science pharmacy technology program cover pharmacotherapy, drug delivery systems and drug treatments. Students can expect to take core courses such as medical terminology, human anatomy and general pathology. International students and active duty military members are generally accepted through the online option. The Pathway Program strengthens the school's traditional programs and prepares students to work in demanding research environments. At the end of the Pathway Program, graduates could enter North Dakota State University to earn a four year degree.

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Central Georgia Technical College
95.74 $$$$$ N/A 2 15:1 N/A

Central Georgia Technical College incorporates clinical experiences, similar to those found in actual retail and medical work locations, with lecture and technical lessons in its pharmacy technology diploma program. Classes are taught at the Milledgeville and Macon campuses. Minimum age to start classes is 16 years. Applicants must also have a high school diploma or equivalent. The 56 credit hour program centers around topics like mathematics, pharmacy technology fundamentals, medicine dispensation and human anatomy. A five credit hour practicum is needed to graduate.

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Southern Regional Technical College
95.74 $$$$$ N/A 2 12:1 N/A

Learning outcomes of the pharmacy technology associate degree at Southern Regional Technical College equip students to blend, measure and dispense medications in liquid and powder form. Prerequisites cover two semesters. After these courses are completed, students start core courses. Each student is assigned an academic advisor at the start of the first semester. Online tutoring helps to keep students on track, especially if students are struggling with technical or general education courses like math, computers or composition. Prior to graduation, a background investigation is required so that students can complete clinical rotations and take the pharmacy technician certification exam.

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Spokane Community College
95.74 $$$$$ 14% 2 17:1 N/A

Spokane Community College's pharmacy technology instructors and the program director have hands on working experience at hospitals and medical facilities within and outside the Spokane area. The college's Health Sciences Division administers the three quarter pharmacy technician undergraduate program. A 2.0 GPA or higher and a background check are required to finish the training. As many as 176 clinical hours in a community setting and another 176 clinical hours in a healthcare setting are also required to graduate. The pharmacy technician diploma can be earned in half the time that it takes to earn the associate degree.

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Lone Star College
95.70 $$$$$ 13% 2 18:1 N/A

The pharmacy technology certificate and the Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology are workforce credentials conferred at Lone State College. Both programs are taught at the North Harris and Tomball campuses. Entrance requirements are associated with the programs. Day and evening classes are offered. Prior to entering a career field as a pharmacy technician, students must pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board's national exam. They must also register with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. Community, healthcare, clinical and retail pharmacy education is provided, equipping students to work in a variety of environments.

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Jefferson Community and Technical College
95.59 $$$$$ 1% 2 16:1 N/A

Adults seeking to enter the pharmacy field could get their foundational training at Jefferson Community and Technical College. The school offers pharmacy technician certificates and a diploma. Program plans provide students experience in public speaking, medical office terminology, pharmacology and calculations. Under certificates there is the retail pharmacy technician certification and the pharmacy technician I certification. Students can finish each certification in a single year. The 38 to 49 credit hour diploma program takes about one and a half years to complete. Earning the diploma better prepares students to get an associate degree in pharmacy technology.

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National Park College
95.57 $$$$$ 71% 2 26:1 N/A

The Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology and the pharmacy technician technical certificate are two academic plans taught at National Park College. The certificate plan operates for 12 months. Full-time students should expect it to take two years to finish the associate degree. Courses are not flat. Instead, they are complex and demanding, a blend of lectures, internships and clinical laboratory lessons. As part of the academic plans, students take the national pharmacy technician certification test. Internships take place at approved facilities and typically last for seven or eight hours a day.

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Clark College
95.48 $$$$$ 11% 2 15:1 N/A

Clark College's pharmacy technology certificate is an expanded academic plan. In addition to preparing students to enter the pharmacy career, the curriculum prepares students to get accepted into two year degree programs. Focus of the certificate plan is to provide students with leadership, technical, critical thinking and professional skills. Two year degrees offered in pharmacy technology at Clark College are the pharmacy technician associate degree and the Associate in Applied Technology in Pharmacy Technician Leadership. Medical terminology, compounding, practical reasoning and health information services are major requirements in the degree plans.

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Fayetteville Technical Community College
95.38 $$$$$ 1% 2 20:1 N/A

Pharmacy technology academic programs at Fayetteville Technical Community College are health plans with a competitive admissions process. Prerequisites and points are needed to get admitted into the academic plans. Health application counseling sessions, a discussion with a web advisor and student advisement are phases of the admissions process. Options to gain entrance to the pharmacy career path are the college's diploma, certificate and associate degree academic plans. A major difference between the three plans is time. Both the diploma and certificate plans can be completed in a year or less. The associate degree is a two year plan for students who attend school full-time.

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Wake Technical Community College
95.26 $$$$$ 2% 2 18:1 N/A

Wake Technical Community College's pharmacy technology academic plan is a collaborative effort, joining Wake Technical Community College and Johnston Community College's workforce development center. Through the collaboration, Wake Technical teaches the plan's general education classes, while Johnston Community teaches the occupational or core classes. Takeaways for graduates include the ability to screen prescriptions, grind or compound chemicals, dispense medications and accept and process patient payments. Training is not limited to textbooks. Laboratory tools are a key part of the academic plans. At the end of the program, students receive an Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology.

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Renton Technical College
95.24 $$$$$ 15% 2 14:1 N/A

Places where Renton Technical College pharmacy technician graduates could enter their careers include hospitals, emergency clinics, retail pharmacies, grocery stores and veterinary centers. Available credentials that the school offers are a certificate and an Associate in Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology. Four quarters and 77 credits are built into the certificate plan. The associate degree plan is comprised of six quarters and 97 credits. Both plans are accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists and the Washington Department of Health. Students must pass the COMPASS exam and be at least 18 years old to start taking courses associated with the academic plans.

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Vance-Granville Community College
95.18 $$$$$ 18% 2 16:1 N/A

At Vance-Granville Community College, the pharmacy technology degree is offered through the Division of Health Sciences. The Associate in Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology prepares students to meet all of the regulations to practice in a live environment as set forward by the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy. Areas that classes focus on include managing inventory, customer communications, medication therapy management and chemical compounding. The school also offers a diploma program. Students can get a diploma in one year, then continue their education and finish the associate degree in another year. Admittance in the degree plan requires students to have passed the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board exam.

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Hutchinson Community College
95.18 $$$$$ 59% 1 15:1 N/A

This almost-90-year-old college, located less than an hour from Wichita, offers a flexible, practically-focused certificate program. Students can complete the 33 credit program in three semesters if attending full time. Hutchinson offers online courses which allows students flexibility in completing both their prerequisites and their theory-based classes. On-campus courses cover practical skills in lab settings. The program also includes a rigorous practicum: students will observe and participate in two different pharmacy settings for a total of 120 hours of practical work-enough to prepare students to sit for the board exam and become licensed.

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Tulsa Community College
95.08 $$$$$ 39% 1 17:1 N/A

Tulsa Community College's certificate program is perhaps one of the most clinically-focused pharmacy technician programs offered. The school limits each admitted class to 24 students, guaranteeing plenty of individual attention. The program includes 160 hours of clinical practice, and any enrolled students already working in a pharmacy may be eligible to apply advanced credit toward the 160. Students can expect to learn hard skills such as dosing calculations and medical terminology but also ethical pharmacology and communication skills. Post-graduation job placement is higher than average from this nationally accredited certificate program.

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Texas State Technical College-Waco
95.02 $$$$$ 38% 1 13:1 N/A

Considered one of the best community colleges in the region, Texas State Technical College in Waco offers a small but highly successful pharmacy technician certificate program. The application process includes a meeting with a Success Coach in order to ensure that the full-time, three-semester program is the right fit for potential students. TSTC's program costs less than $6,000 for in-state students and allows graduates to work as either pharmacy technicians or pharmacy aides. While the national median salary for pharmacy technicians is $29,000, for TSTC graduates, it's $32,000, and they boast a 97 percent employment rate for graduates.

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Wayne County Community College District
94.89 $$$$$ 1% 2 24:1 N/A

Located in Detroit, Wayne County Community College District puts a strong emphasis on job training for diverse populations, and their pharmacy technician programs reflect that emphasis. In order to be admitted, applicants must receive at least a "B" in an introduction in pharmacy tech class and at least an 85 on a rigorous math test. Students can complete a certificate in three semesters or an Associate's degree in five semesters-including a semester of pre-requisites. Graduates of both programs are eligible to sit the national board exam and become licensed, and graduates of the Associate's program can go on to complete a Bachelor's degree if desired.

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Davidson County Community College
94.86 $$$$$ 7% 3 20:1 N/A

Davidson County Community College's pharmacy technician programs are suited to a variety of traditional and nontraditional students. The North Carolina school offers traditional Associate's degree and diploma programs, but they're best known for their High School Career and College Promise program. Eligible high school students can take several classes in the fall and spring of senior year. While there is a $175 fee, tuition and books are free, and students graduate with a certificate, allowing them to work in a pharmacy as an aide or a pharmacy care associate or to continue with the certificate or Associate's degree in order to become a licensed technician.

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College of the Mainland
94.84 $$$$$ 27% 2 14:1 N/A

This medium-sized school, boasting just over 5,000 students, guarantees small class sizes for students. College of the Mainland has a two-semester certificate program with tuition and fees totaling around $2,500. There is also a four-semester Associate's degree option, which prepares students for management-track positions. CotM offers distance learning opportunities including online courses and a wide variety of participating pharmacies for the practicum. The flexibility of both programs makes CotM suitable for both working students and students with families. Graduates of both the two- and four-year programs are eligible to take the licensing exam, and in 2014, 100 percent of graduates taking the exam passed on their first attempt.

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Sinclair College
94.74 $$$$$ 28% 1 15:1 N/A

This Dayton, Ohio-based school offers two paths for those interested in becoming pharmacy technicians. The short-term program takes 18 to 20 semester hours over 32 weeks and includes two core courses that will help students prepare to take the board exam in order to become licensed. The more comprehensive program takes 30 to 32 semester hours-including 105 hours of directed practice at a participating pharmacy. Sinclair is also known for its vast number of online courses, so those taking the advanced pharmacy tech path may complete their prerequisites online, making the degree flexible and accessible for those who work full-time.

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Columbus Technical College
94.72 $$$$$ N/A 2 18:1 N/A

Located in the small city of Columbus, Georgia, Columbus Technical College boasts high job placement rates in its pharmacy technician programs. Both the diploma and the Associate's are extended-length programs that put strong emphasis on practical knowledge, and both are comprehensive enough to sit for the national licensing exam. Functionally, the difference between the two programs comes down to whether or not a student wants to go on to receive their Bachelor's degree. The diploma program requires 52 credit hours. The Associate's degree requires 62 credit hours and is suitable for students considering continuing their education at a four-year university.

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Albany Technical College
94.59 $$$$$ 2% 2 18:1 N/A

This small technical college in Albany, Georgia offers evening courses for both its diploma and Associate's degree programs, with the exception of practical experience, which must be competed in the daytime in a lab setting and at any of a number of participating pharmacies. There is a secondary campus in Cuthbert, a small town about an hour from Albany, making it easier for those in the workforce or with families to make their schedules work around their individual needs without a sometimes deal-breaking commute. While most pharmacy technician programs focus on all pharmacy atmospheres, Albany focuses on hospital and retail settings.

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North Iowa Area Community College
94.50 $$$$$ 43% 2 20:1 N/A

Student interested in studying pharmacy sciences can begin their academic career at North Iowa Area Community College. This program is included in NIACC's Career Cluster and Transfer system and is designed to give students access to introductory pharmacy technician courses that can transfer to larger institutions for advancement. With 75 percent of faculty having master's or doctorate degrees, student may receive valuable instruction from highly educated professors. NIACC also provides prospective students with access to their Career Coach which details various degree and career information such as current local employment statistics, income rates, available positions and required levels of education.

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Cerritos College
94.49 $$$$$ N/A 2 30:1 N/A

Cerritos College's pharmacy technician certificate and Associate's degree programs provide a wide survey of the different forms of employment pharmacy techs can seek out through their rigorous externship program; students are required to shadow professionals and eventually begin to work in a professional setting. They can shadow professionals in community pharmacies, long term hospital care, and home health. There are also opportunities to learn about manufacturing and pharmaceutical sales. At $46 per credit, the tuition for the 60-credit Associate's degree is only $2,760 and the 31-credit certificate is $1,426. They offer both day and evening classes, allowing for maximum flexibility.

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Chemeketa Community College
94.30 $$$$$ 5% 2 22:1 N/A

Chemeketa is home to the only accredited pharmacy technician program in the state of Oregon. For those interested in taking the national board exam and becoming licensed, Chemeketa offers either a one-year certificate or a two-year Associate's degree program. With two main campuses and four distance education centers, online and evening classes, schedules are flexible. Students can expect to learn about patient records, inventory control, and communication strategies. For those interested in management track positions, leadership training is also available. With no more than 30 students to a class, the program is also academically rigorous: the graduation rate is 87 percent, and the board exam pass rate is 100 percent.

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Angelina College
94.20 $$$$$ 8% 1 15:1 N/A

A medium-sized school located in Lufkin, Texas, Angelina College offers a 32-credit pharmacy technician certificate. 15 percent of Lufkin's population is 65 or over, a number set to increase, which means an anticipated increase in demand for pharmacy technicians. Full-time students can complete the program is a year and will learn about drug classification, pharmaceutical mathematics, community practices and pharmacy law. Online and evening classes are an option. Students are also eligible to become certified in the preparation of intravenous admixtures through the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, a specialized skill that will make graduates more desirable to potential employers.

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Jones County Junior College
94.09 $$$$$ 35% 1 25:1 N/A

With a mix of classroom, lab, and clinical settings, Jones County Junior College's pharmacy technician Associate's degree prepares its students for either traditional employment in a pharmacy setting or nontraditional employment, such as with medical software companies. A full-time student can complete the five-semester program which includes a summer term practicum in two years. The degree is workforce-focused: students work in lab settings as early as their second semester. JCJC also offers public speaking and pharmacy management classes, which prepares students for customer-facing positions and upward mobility.

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Gateway Community and Technical College
94.08 $$$$$ 9% 1 12:1 N/A

Gateway Technical College considers their pharmacy tech program a "technical diploma." The Wisconsin school puts such a heavy emphasis on clinical settings that in the two semester program, students spend 160 hours in a variety of pharmacy settings, both shadowing professionals and doing hands-on training. Most courses including all labs are offered at the Burlington Center, which is home to GTC's nursing program, though some general courses may be taken at the main campus in Kenosha or online. Students are quickly introduced to potential employers, and the program is so rigorous that graduates qualify to sit for the licensing exam.

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Miles Community College
94.07 $$$$$ 46% 1 10:1 N/A

Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Miles Community Colleges offers a two-year Certificate of Applied Science Pharmacy Technician. After completing one year of prerequisite classes, students take two semesters of classes specialized to their major for a total of 66 required credits. The program was created for full-time students, but part-time is possible. During the final semester, students have the opportunity to work in a pharmacy as an intern to gain on the job experience. Upon completion, students can take the national Pharmacy Technician Certification exam and work as a licensed Pharmacy Technician in the state of Montana.

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Rank School Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-Teacher Ratio Grad RateDescriptionPlacement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
Pensacola State College
99.72 $$$$$ 23% 2 21:1 N/A

Aspiring pharmacy techs studying at Pensacola State College complete four semesters and 40 credit hours of courses to earn their degree. The program's start date is in January, and there are no prerequisites. Curriculum provides an overview of the legal and ethical responsibilities of pharmacy employees, as well as safety and security procedures, healthcare technology, and pharmaceutical abbreviations and terminology. Students will learn to work with medications, including preparation, delivery, and pre packing unit doses. Courses are delivered in several ways: through online study, traditional classroom courses, and simulated laboratory experiences. In their final semester, students practice their skills in community and institutional settings through a clinical internship.

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Vincennes University
99.52 $$$$$ 18% 2 17:1 N/A

Vincennes University offers a certificate and associate's degree program for pharmacy technicians. Students who complete the certificate program will graduate with the basic skills needed to work as a pharmacy technician. Those who pursue the associate's degree will be prepared for an entry-level management position in a pharmacy. Areas of study include pharmacy law, dispensing medications, and pharmacy calculations. Students also complete a practicum at an affiliated hospital or pharmacy in a one-semester course taken at the conclusion of the program. Graduates of both the certificate and associate's degree program will be prepared to take the National Pharmacy Technician Exam.

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North Seattle College
99.01 $$$$$ 17% 2 16:1 N/A

North Seattle College's pharmacy technician certificate program takes nine months to complete. Students spend the first semester taking courses on campus, and split their time in the second and third semesters between classes and internships. The program provides practical training in the technology used in the industry, such as computerized prescription processing. The school also offers a model pharmacy within a classroom where students can practice their skills. All instructors work concurrently in pharmacies. 432 hours of clinical experiences are required, with potential sites including hospitals, long-term care facilities, home health care facilities, and retail pharmacies.

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Baker College
97.95 $$$$$ 74% 2 19:1 32%

Students in Baker College's pharmacy technician program graduate with an associate's degree and the skills needed to work alongside a licensed pharmacist in a clinical or retail setting. Curriculum includes how to prepare, label, and record medications, and how to follow the appropriate principles and procedures of a pharmacy. Instruction is delivered through online classes, hands-on experiences, and clinical placements. Students begin their studies with a three-week orientation to introduce online learning, after which they can take general education and major requirement courses. The 62-credit program has open enrollment, allowing students to enter the program on one of several start dates throughout the year.

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Seminole State College of Florida
97.87 $$$$$ 18% 2 29:1 N/A

Students in Seminole State College of Florida's Pharmacy Technology program can earn an associate's degree in six semesters or a diploma in four semesters. Courses are taught by experienced faculty and center on current pharmacy technology and equipment. While core courses are held on campus only, general education classes can be completed online. The school also offers free career services to help students find job placements after graduation. Curriculum prepares program participants to work in a variety of settings: hospitals, drug stores, long-term care facilities, and health maintenance organizations. Graduates may also find employment with drug manufacturers.

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Florida State College at Jacksonville
97.83 $$$$$ 15% 1 22:1 N/A

Florida State College at Jacksonville has a pharmacy technician workforce certificate program that teaches students the planning, finance, technical, and management skills needed to work in a pharmacy. Curriculum also addresses community issues, health and safety issues, and environmental issues that may be significant in their workplace. The program takes 10 months to complete, with a start date in the fall term. Courses are delivered in the evenings, 5pm to 10pm, Monday through Friday. Prior to graduation, students must sit for the National Pharmacy Technician certification exam. After completing the program, students are eligible to apply to become Registered Pharmacy Technicians in Florida.

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West Virginia University at Parkersburg
97.73 $$$$$ 16% 1 15:1 26%

The pharmacy technician certificate program at West Virginia University at Parkersburg is delivered through classroom learning, laboratory practice on campus, and clinical experiences in the field at local hospitals and retail pharmacies. Students will learn how to safely prepare and deliver medications to patients in both community and institutional settings. Curriculum also covers maintenance of patient profiles and management of inventory. Students in the program have had a high success rate in passing the Pharmacy Technical National Certification Exam. After graduation, pharmacy technicians will be prepared to work under the supervision of licensed pharmacists in a clinical setting.

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Jackson College
97.30 $$$$$ 21% 1 18:1 N/A

At Jackson College, aspiring pharmacy technicians can earn a certificate with four semesters of study. The program stresses both technical skills in working with medication and soft skills like customer service and communication, both desirable for pharmacy employees. Students will learn to prepare prescription medications, perform administrative duties, and work effectively with customers. Curriculum also includes inventory control, business support, and nutrition. The program requires general education courses in writing, computer technologies, and biology. Graduates will be prepared to sit for the national certification exam, and will have the skills needed to work in retail or hospital pharmacies.

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Marygrove College
97.23 $$$$$ 92% 1 9:1 16%

The pharmacy technology certificate program at Marygrove College takes two semesters to complete. Classes are held primarily in the evenings, and students progress through their courses with a cohort of peers. Transfer students are accepted, but credits for pharmacy technology classes will not be counted. In addition to studying medical terminology, pharmacy practices, and pharmacology, students complete an externship in their second semester. The 80-hour practicum allows students to practice their skills, such as serving patients, inventory control, and medication distribution, under the supervision of a registered pharmacist. At the end of the program, graduates will have the skills needed to work in retail pharmacies and hospitals.

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Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City
96.94 $$$$$ 10% 1 19:1 N/A

Oklahoma State University - Oklahoma City offers a preparation program for students who wish to pursue a pharmacy degree. The program includes the specific prerequisites needed for the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy and Southwestern Oklahoma State University College of Pharmacy. Students interested in other pharmacy schools should consult their offices of admissions to see if there are any additional requirements. Pre-pharmacy students at OSU are advised to shadow a pharmacist, visit pharmacy schools, and gain direct exposure to the field during the preparation program to help them decide if they ultimately want to pursue the career.

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Miami Dade College
96.88 $$$$$ 24% 1 23:1 N/A

Students studying pharmacy technology at Miami Dade College complete 35 credits over two to three semesters. Curriculum stresses the packaging and distribution of medications, preparing students to support licensed pharmacists in a variety of settings. Due to the demands of the program, participants are urged to limit employment to 20 hours per week while they complete their courses. Students are also encouraged to consider their family and personal responsibilities and ensure that they have enough time to dedicate to their studies before beginning the program. In addition to traditional classroom courses, the program includes a practicum that takes place in a clinical facility in Miami Dade County.

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Pasco-Hernando State College
96.52 $$$$$ 7% 1 27:1 N/A

Aspiring pharmacy technicians can earn a technical certificate from Pasco-Hernando State College after one year of full-time study. Courses are held in daytime hours, Monday through Friday, in the fall and spring semesters. Each semester is divided into two terms, and students earn between seven and eleven credits each term. Students will learn all of the typical functions of pharmacy technicians, including measuring and filling prescription and medication orders, verification of health insurance, customer service practices, and managing inventory. After the successful completion of the program, graduates will be prepared to take the certification examination and work in a retail or hospital pharmacy setting.

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Cabarrus College of Health Sciences
96.25 $$$$$ 72% 1 6:1 N/A

Cabarrus College of Health Sciences offers students a pharmacy technology program with a diploma track and an associate of science degree track. Courses are delivered through both face-to-face and distance instruction. Students learn pharmaceutical calculations, inventory management, dispensation of medicines, relevant technologies, and quality assurance measures. The program also outlines the legal, ethical, and professional standards that are expected of pharmacy employees. Prospective students who are already working as pharmacy technicians may be able to take tests that demonstrate their proficiency and allow them to skip some classes in the degree program; this will be evaluated on a student-by-student basis.

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Louisiana State University-Alexandria
96.17 $$$$$ 23% 1 19:1 14%

The pharmacy technology certificate program at Louisiana State University in Alexandria includes instruction in pharmacy-specific areas such as pharmacology, calculations, and pharmacy management, and more general areas of study including computer literacy and communication. Curriculum emphasizes the importance of treating patients with caring and compassion, as well as professional and ethical behaviors in the workplace. The program is 41 credits, including a practicum where students have the opportunity to work in retail, institutional, and long-term care pharmacy settings, including local hospitals and a veterans' medical center. Graduates sit for a national certification exam before applying for pharmacy technician positions.

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University of Rio Grande
95.84 $$$$$ 24% 1 19:1 28%

The University of Rio Grande provides a one-year certificate program for aspiring pharmacy technicians. Beginning in the fall semester each year, the program is designed to help students prepare for the national certification exam. Courses give students the knowledge they need to properly identify, measure, and distribute medications, as well as how to enter patient and prescription information into the pharmacy's computer system. Communication with coworkers and patients is also stressed in the curriculum. The school suggests that graduates may find work in the typical retail or hospital settings, or in other growing areas of need including mail-order pharmacies, nursing homes, and home infusion businesses.

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Indian River State College
88.19 $$$$$ 11% 1 26:1 N/A

Students in Indian River State College's certified pharmacy technician program can complete the required coursework and practicum in nine months. Prospective students can attend a health science information session at the school's main campus in Fort Pierce to learn more about the program before applying. Courses stress the code of ethics for pharmacy technicians, including honesty and integrity, respecting the confidentiality of the patient, and valuing the contributions of colleagues. At the end of the program, students complete a clinical portion in a community or institutional pharmacy. After completing the program, students are invited to participate in a certificate recognition ceremony in front of family and friends.

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Gulf Coast State College
88.17 $$$$$ 28% 1 19:1 N/A

At Gulf Coast State College, students seeking a career as a pharmacy technician can earn an applied technology diploma through a three-semester hybrid program of online and face-to-face study. Courses provide instruction in math and biology, as well as pharmacy operations and calculations. Students practice their skills in on-campus labs, and later in real-world settings through clinical placements in local retail stores and institutional pharmacies. The program also centers on supportive faculty who guide students in their academic success and in meeting their career goals. There is one start date each year in the fall semester.

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The University of Montana
87.91 $$$$$ 67% 1 18:1 49%

Students who wish to pursue a career as a pharmacy technician can earn a certificate from the University of Montana - Missoula College. This program, which takes two semesters to complete, combines classroom, lab, and clinical learning to prepare students to work in hospitals, community pharmacies, and numerous other pharmacy settings. During their practicum, students rotate through several experiential sites. Some may be outside of the Missoula area, so reliable transportation is required. The program begins in the fall, with one start date each year, and is 33 credits in total. Upon graduation, students are awarded a certificate of applied science.

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Snow College
87.88 $$$$$ 84% 1 20:1 N/A

Aspiring pharmacy technicians at Snow College complete six courses totaling 20 credit hours to earn their certificate. The program includes both classroom instruction and clinical rotations, and on-campus classes can be taken at the Richfield or Ephraim campus. Prior to joining the program, students are advised to take human physiology, medical terminology, and a chemistry course at the high school or college level. Curriculum centers on the fundamentals of pharmacy work, including the ethical considerations involved, as well as understanding drugs and their uses. Students will also learn about pharmacy calculations and any applicable laws or regulations.

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Remington College-Memphis Campus
87.64 $$$$$ 82% 2 18:1 N/A

Remington College's Memphis campus offers a training program for pharmacy technicians that guides students in forming a positive relationship between the pharmacist and the pharmacy technician. Students also learn technical skills including prescription interpretation, and sterile product mixtures and compounding. The campus has two labs that provide simulated pharmacy operations. One is an outpatient pharmacy where students practice dispensing medications, taking phone calls, and working with customers. The other is an inpatient pharmacy where students work with IV flow hoods and manage a 24-hour patient floor stock. Classes often include group work, where students collaborate with several peers as they train in the labs.

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Remington College-Dallas Campus
87.59 $$$$$ 88% 2 22:1 N/A

The Dallas campus of Remington College offers numerous levels of support to students in their pharmacy technician program. Teachers help students prepare and study for their certification exam, and externship coordinators and career service representatives are available to assist students as they graduate and seek employment. Students can practice their skills in on-campus labs that include over 30 compounding agents and 200 placebo prescriptions. Labs also house industry-grade equipment such as IV bags and tubing, tablet makers, and weighing scales. Instructors take students on field trips to local medical centers, and professionals working in the field often visit the campus as guest speakers.

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South Texas College
87.54 $$$$$ 1% 2 27:1 N/A

At South Texas College, students studying pharmacy technology can earn an associate's degree with two years of study, or a certificate with one year of study. Classes are held during the day, and students must take courses full-time. In addition to studying medication-related topics including drug classification and pharmacotherapy, students take courses on math and law as they relate to the field. As part of both the associate's degree and certificate programs, participants complete a practicum in a local pharmacy. Graduates will have gained the skills needed to work in a variety of pharmacy settings, including retail, institutional, and mail-order pharmacies.

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University of Alaska Anchorage
87.54 $$$$$ 44% 1 19:1 26%

The pharmacy technology program at the University of Alaska Anchorage is offered exclusively online. The 17-credit, six-course program leads to an occupational endorsement certificate that prepares students to work as pharmacy technicians, and to sit for the national certification exam. The program also provides students with a foundation to continue further study in the field: a pre-pharmacy undergraduate degree, and/or a doctor of pharmacy degree. Courses are delivered through the Blackboard online learning management system. Program participants are highly encouraged to meet with an academic advisor at the school, who can assist them in meeting educational and career goals.

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Remington College-Shreveport Campus
86.65 $$$$$ 90% 1 11:1 N/A

Students seeking to become pharmacy technicians can train at Remington College Shreveport campus. The diploma program prepares students with the use of hands-on projects and creative instructional methods held in a realistic mock pharmacy on campus. Students will work with the same tools used in retail and institutional pharmacies, from packaging items and ointment tubes to IV bags and syringes. Instructors have real-world experience in the field as certified pharmacy technicians, and provide guidance to students on what skills and traits local employers seek. In addition to classroom learning, students in the program can participate in campus events and field trips.

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Robert Morris University Illinois
86.00 $$$$$ 82% 1 21:1 73%

The pharmacy technology program at Robert Morris University leads to an associate in applied science degree after 15 months of study. Students learn about pharmaceutical terminology and techniques, as well as the laws and regulations that apply to the field. Curriculum includes compounding and packaging medications, maintain drug inventories, and preparing sterile products. Students will become familiar with medical terminology used in the pharmacy setting. The program also provides coursework on career management, helping students to develop a professional presence to further their careers. After graduation, participants will be prepared to sit for the national certification exam.

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The decision to enter an educational program in pursuit of a degree as a pharmacy technician is the first of many important decisions the prospective student must make. Studying and research need to begin well before the first day of class, as sifting through the number of available programs can be a huge task in and of itself. We’ve given you a jump start on the process, comparing schools on topics like available financial aid, program options and faculty, to see who matches up and who falls short. Check out the schools that made the cut below.

Must-Haves of Pharmacy Technician Schools

Special career services. Online or hybrid classes. Student organizations. Pharmacy technician schools can offer students much more than a basic education. Some programs offer so many features, in fact, that it can be difficult for prospective students to sort through them. Which characteristics are nice, and which are essential? Here are a few things to look for when researching pharmacy technician schools.


Accreditation refers to a process in which an independent organization reviews educational programs to certify that they meet certain curricular, instructional and quality standards. Certification boards, employers and other schools’ admissions departments often consider accreditation status when reviewing applicants’ educational credentials. Pharmacy technician schools are accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, which publishes its standards and model curriculum on its website. Only programs that offer a minimum of 15 weeks and 600 hours of targeted instruction are even eligible for ASHP review. There are more than 200 fully-accredited community college, vocational and employer-based pharmacy technician schools in the United States. Future students can visit the ASHP’s online Technician Training Directory to review them.

Certification-Geared Coursework & Preparation

Pharmacy technician certification signals that candidates have met certain training and skill benchmarks. The BLS reports that most states and employers prefer, or even require, technicians to be certified by the PTCB or the NHA. Each organization sets its own certification criteria and publishes it online. The NHA’s educational requirements are more advanced than those of the PTCB, but both groups require techs to pass exams that test candidates’ knowledge of areas like pharmacy law, medication safety and quality assurance. Pharmacy technician schools with certificate-geared courses and test preparation services better prepare graduates for what could be an otherwise intimidating exam process.

Clinical Experience

Relaying knowledge in a classroom is one thing; demonstrating it in a clinical setting is quite another. Pharmacy technician schools that offer plenty of hands-on training through labs and externships give students the practical experience they need to not only hit the ground running, but also avoid costly mistakes. PTCB and NHA certification exams both test techs’ clinical savvy, and the ASHP considers practical learning opportunities in the course of accreditation. Prospective students should look for programs offering these valuable experiences.

Up-to-Date Tools & Equipment

Pharmacy technicians rely on a wide cache of tools to do their jobs. They might use special machines to dose and package prescriptions, like filling and auger dose machines, or equipment to sterilize tools, tubes, bottles and surfaces. Technicians working in states that allow them to blend and compound medication may also use laboratory mills, blenders and emulsifiers. Pharmacy technicians must know how to properly use, clean and maintain this equipment in accordance with health and safety regulations. Future students should confirm that prospective pharmacy technician schools have these tools, keep them up to date and give students plenty of time to work with them.

Current Computer and Software Instruction

Computers have revolutionized the way most healthcare professionals do their jobs, including pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy techs rely on computers and software to manage prescription orders, patient records and billing activities. They use special databases to review drug safety and compatibility information, and tools like Pyxis CII Safe to track inventories and reorder items as needed. Technological innovation and regulatory shifts mean the hardware and software pharmacy technicians rely on can change. Students who attend pharmacy technician schools that invest in the most current and widely used systems require less training in the workplace – something employers can appreciate.

Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates

Pharmacy technicians once traditionally learned on the job, but stricter employer standards and NHA certification requirements have given rise to more formal training programs. Certificate and associate degree programs are common, but because no states and certification organizations currently require pharmacy techs to earn bachelor’s degrees, baccalaureate programs at 4-year universities are tailored more with the future pharmacist in mind.

Postsecondary certificates in pharmacy technology are the most prevalent training path pharmacy technician schools offer, reports the BLS. These targeted, entry-level programs require less than one year of study and establish basic knowledge and skills with minimal general education coursework. Associate degrees, by contrast, require up to two years of study and include a balance of core and general education coursework, especially in science and math. Most pharmacy technician schools offer Associate of Applied Science, or AAS, degrees in pharmacy technology.

Pharmacy Technician Associate Degrees

Associate degrees are a relatively recent addition for pharmacy technician schools, and though they are not necessary for certification, the extra training they offer may give graduates an edge in the job market. Associate of Applied Science degrees in pharmacy technology are especially common, but some schools offer degrees in pharmacy science. Because these programs usually require students to complete some general education coursework, they can take up to two years of study to complete. Practical labs and externships complement other core pharmacy technician classes. The following table details typical courses from real associate-level pharmacy technician programs.

Introduction to Medical Vocabulary

This course introduces students to basic medical terminology and the fundamentals and rules of building these words. Emphasis is on common word roots, prefixes and suffixes.

Pharmacy Technology

Students review the history, current use of, and legal and ethical issues surrounding computers and other technologies in a healthcare setting. Includes a laboratory component to build proficiency with basic pharmacy software.

Sterilization and Aseptic Technique

Introduces sterilization products and techniques used in healthcare settings. Students will learn how to use and maintain aseptic devices common to laboratory and pharmacological settings.

Job Skills & National Exam Preparation

This course, taken near the end of the program, highlights key job hunting skills like resume and interview development. Students will also learn more about the national certification exam, particularly how to register and prepare for the text.

Pharmacy Technician Certificates

Pharmacy technician schools frequently offer postsecondary certificates in pharmacy technology, though some award career diplomas – a comparable credential – instead. Certificates are more common, if more basic than associate-level programs, and students can complete them much faster: ASHP accreditation only requires programs to offer 15 weeks, or 600 hours, of instruction. Certificates are usually highly targeted, emphasizing industry-geared coursework. Even more general courses, like math or science, tend to focus on practical workplace applications. Hands-on labs and practicums are also common.

The following table offers a glimpse into the kind of coursework pharmacy technician certificate programs provide.

Pharmacology for Allied Health Professionals

This course offers an introduction to contemporary drug therapies and their applications. Students learn how certain medications work, how they interact and which body systems are impacted. Basic immunological and physiological concepts are applied throughout.

Pharmacy Math and Dosages

Students review basic math functions and concepts, but within the scope of practical pharmacy applications. Topics can include using ratios, proportions and conversions to calculate doses, and basic business math for billing and inventory purposes.

Pharmacy Law and Ethics

This course analyzes state and national regulatory systems and ethics as they apply in healthcare settings. Students will study patient privacy laws, medical fraud, pharmaceutical abuse and other best professional practices

Pharmacy Technician Practicum

Students complete at least 90 hours of practical experience in outpatient settings, like retail pharmacies. Throughout these externships students will work alongside licensed pharmacists, performing typical pharmacy technician duties.

Pharmacy Technician Toolbox

Pharmacy technician schools can provide techs with the basic knowledge and technical savvy they need to perform their jobs effectively, but employers consider more than just a candidate’s training. There are many other qualities that make an excellent technician. Pharmacy techs must be friendly, cooperative and have a strong attention to detail, for instance, and administrative tasks are common. They must also be able to stand for several hours a day and keep their cool under pressure. Here are some of the professional and personal skills and qualities that serve pharmacy technicians well.

  • Job-specific knowledge.

    The duties pharmacy technicians perform can vary by state and employer, but most rely on a similar set of professional skills. These including knowing how to:

    Read, verify and manage patient prescription requests

    Properly dose and fill prescription orders

    Use and maintain laboratory equipment and tools

    Store prescription and over-the-counter medications properly

    Track inventories

    Maintain a safe, sanitary environment

    Find, review and relay drug safety information, including potential interactions

    Keep records in accordance with patients’ privacy rights

    Communicate with pharmacists, insurance companies, patients and healthcare providers

    Bill and collect payment for prescription orders

  • General workplace skills.

    Pharmacy technicians often need other workplace skills that are not industry-specific. Among them:

    Strong customer and personal service skills

    Clerical and administrative know-how

    Using computers, software, printers and related equipment

    Organizing, planning and prioritizing work

    Working well independently and in a team

    Communicating with colleagues, supervisors and other work groups

  • Personal aptitudes.

    Like most professionals, pharmacy technicians can benefit from having a number of seemingly more innate skills and qualities. These include:

    Service orientation

    Excellent time management


    Active listening

    Strong reading comprehension

    Excellent critical thinking and problem solving

    Time management and organization

    Social perceptiveness

  • Personal qualities.

    According to O*Net OnLine, it is often helpful for pharmacy technicians to have the following qualities and characteristics:

    Near vision

    Clarity of speech

    A warm disposition



    Personal initiative

    Problem sensitivity

    High tolerance for stress


    A cooperative nature

  • More key resume-builders.

    Formal training can give some pharmacy technicians an edge over lesser trained career competition, but there are other ways candidates can set themselves apart. Among them:


    Graduation from an accredited program

    Membership in educational and professional organizations

    Practical experience via labs and externships

    Continuing education courses, especially to maintain certification

    Participating in extracurricular and community service activities

    Personal and professional recommendations from former employers, instructors and other qualified contributors

    Work history and experience

Future pharmacy technicians who want to get a better sense for the field’s demands and requirements can look for pharmacy internships or entry-level jobs as cashiers in retail clinics. Some pharmacy technician schools may also connect current students with more experienced graduates and mentors.

Quick Facts

Demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to grow faster than the national average for all occupations through at least 2022

Pharmacy techs in hospitals and other health facilities sometimes work with nurses or deliver medications to patients directly

Pharmacies with patient care services, like medical clinics and vaccinations, may require techs to take patient medical histories and prepare intravenous medications

Pharmacy Technician Specializations

One way even seasoned pharmacy technicians can set themselves apart through specialized certifications. Unlike general certification, which confirms basic skills, professional certificates verify that candidates have advanced training certain procedures and therapies. Technicians in pharmacies offering patient care services like flu shots might become certified in intravenous therapies while those in hospitals and other medical facilities specialize in chemotherapy or nuclear medicine. Professionals working in states that allow them to mix certain medications could become certified in pharmaceutical compounding. The National Pharmacy Technician Association certifies candidates who successfully complete a training program and pass an exam. Readers can visit the NPTA online to review specialty areas, course requirements and exam details.

Interview with a Pharmacy Technician

Maliya Jackson is a full-time college student and pharmacy technician for a large retail chain in Virginia. She is preparing for national certification.

What inspired you to become a pharmacy technician?

Well, I have wanted to be a doctor since I was 8 years old. Now that I am older, I saw an opportunity to become a certified pharmacy tech. I realized that as a doctor, it could be very helpful for me to see the “other side” of medicine, as I like to call it. To see the types of medicine doctors prescribe, why and the different strengths. Many doctors may not have been able to start out with an opportunity like that, and I thought it would be perfect for me. Also, it would look great on my resume that I have such well-rounded experience.

How did you complete your training?

I [could] choose to become a pharmacy technician on-the-job [or] go to school to become a pharmacy technician prior to working as one. Both options are good, but I’m learning on the job. They put you right in with the mix and teach you each step-by-step how everything in the pharmacy works. It’s a lot of work and certainly a lot to learn, but definitely worth it. You learn a lot about medicine and the [common medications] people take.

Can you tell us about the certification process?

When I got hired I had to take a little bit of training online for the company I work for, and then I was told that I must be certified within 9 months. During that time it is up to me to ask for help in areas I need in addition to constant training. I have textbooks to assist with learning all of the laws for the pharmacy and the top medicines we use. I’ll schedule my test when I feel I am prepared and if I pass, I am officially a nationally certified pharmacy technician. Be sure that the test is a national test and not just state level.

What has been the most challenging part of being a pharmacy technician?

For me, being a full-time college student and studying to become a pharmacy tech at the same time is most difficult. I have to make sure I practice and study when I can. I have to schedule [the certification exam] when school is a little less stressful, closer to the end of the semester. For those who may be only focusing on becoming a certified pharmacy technician, [it] can still be challenging trying to learn, understand and memorize the laws, math, drugs and operations of pharmacy required to pass the test. However, you can do it! It’s possible and it’s a fun job!

What do you love best about your work?

I love learning new things, and my co-workers make the environment fun. I get to see all the names of prescriptions. Actually working in a pharmacy inspires me to want to be healthy and I can look at both natural and medicinal ways to handle sickness. Sometimes we need medicine and sometimes things can be handled naturally.

What’s Next? After Pharmacy Technician School

Pharmacy technician schools may offer students similar skills, but how and where they will use them can differ significantly. The BLS notes that more than half of pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies and drugstores; others report to hospitals, general merchandise stores and grocery stores. Ambulatory, outpatient and other patient care centers may also staff pharmacy technicians. Where techs work can have a major impact their duties, training demands and even work schedules. Techs working in retail settings are more likely to field questions from the public than those in hospital pharmacies, but are less likely to work overnight shifts and holidays (24-hour pharmacies are an exception). Techs in pharmacies with patient care services like “minute clinics” may take patient health information, schedule appointments and prepare shots – tasks few other professionals do. Geography matters, too: some states allow pharmacy technicians to mix and compound special medications; others do not.

Future pharmacy technicians who want to get a sense for work early on may be able to find entry-level work as cashiers or assistants. Some employers allow pharmacy technicians to work for a certain period of time on a provisional basis before other requirements kick in, meaning they might have a few months to test the waters before they must invest in mandatory formal education or certification. Pharmacy technician schools with externship programs are another excellent way to gain valuable work experience. Readers can speak with admissions advisors before applying to programs to confirm the nature and extent of these valuable learning experiences.

Featured Careers tool

  • Pharmacy technician

    Pharmacy techs help out the pharmacist in a variety of settings to prepare, dispense and record medications. They may also prepare compounds and take patient information.

    Median Salary: $29,320

    Median Hourly: $14.10

    Est. Growth: 20%

    No. Employed: 355,300

    Minimum Education: High school diploma

  • Pharmacist

    Those who continue their schooling may go on from pharmacy technician to full pharmacist. Pharmacists dispense and prepare prescription medications, and provide education to patients regarding a number of issues, from medication to lifestyle.

    Median Salary: $116,670

    Median Hourly: $56.09

    Est. Growth: 14%

    No. Employed: 286,400

    Minimum Education: Professional or doctoral degree

Advice from a Pharmacy Technician

“Stick with it! You will have challenges, but it’s worth it! Study
every chance you get – do NOT wait until it’s close to the time to take your test.”

Maliya Jackson