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How to Pick the Best Pharmacist Tech School Near Alabaster Alabama

Alabaster Alabama pharmacy technician taking prescription from shelfNow that you have decided to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near AlabasterAL, you may be wondering how to pick the best school to get your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. A number of prospective students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.

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The Job of Pharmacy Techs

Alabaster Alabama hospital pharmacy tech wearing lab coat

Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Alabaster AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice regarding medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily tasks a pharmacy technician may carry out are:

  • Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
  • Fill prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
  • Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
  • Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
  • Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
  • Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory

Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.

Pharmacy Tech Degree Programs

Alabaster Alabama pharmacy stockStudents wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two alternatives to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Alabaster AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.

Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered

Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to become certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Alabaster AL employers will only hire a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that offer certification:

  • National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
  • Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)

The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacy Technician Online Programs

Alabaster Alabama young female student enrolled in pharmacy tech training onlinePrior to choosing a pharmacist technician online college, it's important to realize that most schools do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in an area Alabaster pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy technician in order to get some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Alabaster AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online training might be the ideal solution for you.

Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Courses

Once you have decided whether you wish to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy tech colleges to select from in the Alabaster AL area and throughout the Country, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Alabaster home. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other variables that you should take into consideration in order to adequately compare programs. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.

Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Alabaster AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.

Does the College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous employers desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician college needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This qualification may be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.

Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the programs have associations with Alabaster Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.

Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Finding that initial position in Alabaster AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some assistance. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Alabaster AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Alabaster AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

More on How to Train to Become a Pharmacy Technician in Alabaster

Find the Best Alabaster Pharmacy Tech Course

Getting the right pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where helping customers with their health is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist tech programs include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to select a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate training and determination you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Alabaster Alabama.



 

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