Working in a Pharmacy

So, you are interested in working in a pharmacy, but want to know how long is pharmacy tech school. Pharmacy is one of the fastest growing medical fields in the United States. If you are interested in a career in the medical field, and want to help people in your community without going to school for a decade, pharmacy technician school might be the right choice for you.

Before you make a commitment to getting an education in the pharmacy field, or worry too much about how long is pharmacy tech school, it’s important to know what it is a tech does. Pharmacy technicians are responsible for assisting the pharmacist in all aspects of the prescription filling process. Retail workers are the people that take in prescriptions and enter them into the computer system.

How long is pharmacy tech school? This infographic shows explains what each semester of pharmacy tech school involves.

Techs are also responsible for filling, counting, and labelling prescription medications. In addition to these tasks, techs are responsible for ordering medications and ordering pharmacy supplies such as prescription vials and bottles. They will process patient insurance to ensure proper reimbursement to the pharmacy. As a tech, you can answer basic questions about medications, such as the medication name and how much the medication costs.

Pharmacy technicians have more opportunities than just working in retail pharmacy, though, which accounts for how long is pharmacy tech school. Some go on to work in a hospital setting. One of the major responsibilities of a technician in a hospital setting is preparing intravenous, or I.V. medications for patients in the hospital. This requires you to be well-trained in sterile preparation of medication products.

Technicians in this setting will also be responsible for stocking medications in the hospital units. They will participate in medication rounds, where they deliver daily medications to each patient unit. In a hospital setting, techs could be required to work any shift as hospitals are open 24 hours a day. Due to this, hospital technicians are generally paid a higher salary than those in retail.

How long is pharmacy technician school?

That is a lot of responsibilities and a lot to learn, and you may be wondering how long is pharmacy tech school. Most pharmacy technician schools last about 2 semesters. The programs are often a combination of several different learning environments.

As part of your curriculum, you will take part in didactic lectures in the classroom as well as hands-on experience in a pharmacy lab. In the pharmacy lab, you will be able to practice the prescription filling process in a low stress environment with the help of an instructor.

After didactic and hands-on training, most programs will require eligible candidates to complete an externship at a local pharmacy in order to get real world pharmacy experience.

The first semester of the program is generally dedicated to retail pharmacy practice. During the first semester, you will learn about different aspects of pharmacy such as pharmacy law, medications, and the prescription filling process.

You will also learn basic pharmacy calculations used in all settings of pharmacy. The first semester will be mostly didactic learning and hands-on experience in the pharmacy lab.

The second semester is more geared towards the hospital pharmacy setting. During this semester, you will learn aseptic technique which is used to make I.V. medications in the hospital. You will also learn how to fill crash carts and other medication cabinets that are located all through-out hospitals.

During this semester, there will be didactic training, hands-on training in the pharmacy lab, as well as a pharmacy technician externship. This should give you a fairly accurate representation of how long is pharmacy tech school, and what you can expect to learn while you are there.

Getting Certified

 After you have completed your pharmacy technician training, you will be eligible to take the national certification exam. This exam is offered by two different organizations, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcare Association (NHA). Both certification exams will earn you the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). This career path is fast-paced, and so is the schooling. But spending the money and time on your education is well worth the investment.

As a technician, you can expect to make an average salary of $29,810 per year. So while you may have started off this article wondering how long is pharmacy tech school, you can see now that for the amount of training as well as the amount of opportunities that follow the completion of the program, the schooling is not very long at all!