A pharmacy technician is a member of the health care team who assists the pharmacist in the practice of pharmacy. The pharmacy technician’s scope of practice is determined by regulation of the state Board of Pharmacy.
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The Alabama Board of Pharmacy has specific requirements for certification as a pharmacy technician This guide provides an overview of the steps you will need to take to become a pharmacy technician in Alabama.
There are two ways to become a certified pharmacy technician in Alabama: Complete a training program at an accredited school, or complete on-the-job training under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist.
If you decide to complete a training program, it must be accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) or the National Healthcare Association (NHA). Programs typically take between six and twelve weeks to complete, and include both classroom instruction and hands-on training.
Once you have completed a training program or on-the-job training, you must pass the pharmacy technician certification exam (PTCE) administered by the Institute for the Certification of pharmacy technicians (ICPT). Once you have passed the exam, you will need to register with the Alabama Board of Pharmacy and pay a fee. You will also need to renew your registration every two years and complete continuing education requirements.
Searching for a Program
Pharmacy technicians in Alabama are required to complete a formal education program and earn certification before they can begin working. Formal programs for pharmacy techs are offered at community colleges, technical schools, and some hospitals. Some programs may offer externship opportunities that allow students to gain hands-on experience in a real-world pharmacy setting.
When searching for a program, consider accreditation status, length of the program, cost of tuition, and whether the program offers externship opportunities. Most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed an accredited program and earned certification. Programs that are accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) are generally considered to be the most reputable.
The length of formal education programs for pharmacy technicians varies depending on the type of institution offering the program. Certificate programs can usually be completed in one year or less, while associate’s degree programs typically take two years to complete. Some institutions offer hybrid programs that combine online coursework with on-campus lab work and clinical rotations.
Cost of tuition is another important consideration when choosing a formal education program. Community colleges and technical schools typically have lower tuition rates than private institutions. Hospitals that offer training programs may also offer tuition assistance or scholarships to qualified candidates.
After completing a formal education program, pharmacy technicians in Alabama must earn certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Both organizations offer two levels of certification: Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) and Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician (CSPT). Candidates must pass a written exam to earn either credential.
Admission to a Program
Pharmacy technician programs are available at community colleges, technical schools, and health science centers. Admission to these programs is generally open to anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent, although some programs may require students to take basic courses in math and sciences before beginning the pharmacy tech curriculum.
Prospective students should check with their chosen program for specific admission requirements. Applicants to pharmacy technician programs will also need to submit to a criminal background check and drug screen as part of the admissions process.
Coursework in a Program
Most pharmacy technician programs will include classroom, laboratory, and clinical components, often spread out over several months. Some community colleges offer shorter certificate programs that can be completed in as little as one semester, while others may take two years or more to complete. Below is a sampling of courses you might take as a pharmacy tech student in Alabama:
-Introduction to Pharmacy Technology
-Body Systems and Disease
-Dispensing and Compounding Medications
-Sterile Products Preparation
-Instrumentation and Laboratory Procedures
-Inventory Management and Retail Operations
-Patient Counseling and Communication
Externship in a Program
Externship is typically the last educational requirement for pharmacy technicians. During an externship, pharmacy tech students work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist in a pharmacy setting. Students learn to apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world setting. Externships can last from several weeks to several months, and can be paid or unpaid.
Certification and Registration
To work as a pharmacy technician in Alabama, you must obtain a certification and registration from the Alabama Board of Pharmacy. The first step is to take an approved pharmacy technician training program. Upon completion of the program, you must then pass the pharmacy technician certification exam (PTCE) administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Once you have received your certification, you can then register with the Alabama Board of Pharmacy.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to grow by 9% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. An aging population and a growing emphasis on preventive care will lead to an increase in the number of prescriptions filled each year.
As the number of prescriptions grows, so will the need for qualified pharmacy technicians. In addition, as more pharmacists take on more clinical roles, they will rely increasingly on pharmacy technicians to perform routine tasks, such as counting pills and measuring liquids.
The median annual salary for pharmacy technicians was $33,950 in 2019. The top 10% of earners made more than $49,120, while the bottom 10% earned less than $23,490.