How to Select the Right Pharmacist Tech Program Near Birmingham Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near BirminghamAL, you may be wondering just how to choose the best program to receive your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to locate schools that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. A number of future students begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are significant factors when selecting a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's review the diploma and degree options available.
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Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
The fastest route to becoming a pharmacy technician is through a certificate or diploma program. These take around two semesters, or one year to complete. Some states will require you to pass a certification exam after your program. Pharmacy technician associate’s degree programs provide a greater depth of study in the pharmaceutical sciences and in management and customer service, as well as general education classes. Associate’s degree programs take approximately two years to complete. Prospective pharmacy technicians who are considering an undergraduate degree in the future may want to go with an associates’ degree, as many of their credits can be applied to a future degree. Those who graduate from an associate’s degree program may find themselves in greater demand or eligible for more generous compensation. Often, degree holders are better positioned for advancement. The choice between these two paths will depend on your goals and the amount of money you have available to invest in your education, but it is important to select a program that is accredited.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Programs
Once you have determined whether you wish to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech colleges to choose from in the Birmingham AL area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Birmingham home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are several other issues that you need to take into consideration in order to effectively compare programs. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? Most pharmacist technician colleges and trade schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Be sure to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And many Birmingham AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous pharmacies desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician college should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This requirement may be met by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Birmingham Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Getting that initial position in Birmingham AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a challenging task without some assistance. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Birmingham AL home. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacy tech program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Birmingham Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the best pharmacy technician training is an important first step to starting your career in a rewarding profession where helping customers with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained technicians. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician colleges include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the right education and dedication you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Birmingham Alabama.