Pharmacist Certification and Diploma Programs
There is no such thing as a pharmacist diploma program, but some schools do offer diploma programs in pharmacy technology. These programs emphasize the skills needed to work as a pharmacist's assistant or in other relevant entry-level positions. People interested in becoming full-fledged pharmacists need to complete a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program.
Pharmacy Technician Diploma
Pharmacy technician diploma programs teach the methods used to store and label medications, mix medical substances, fill simple prescriptions and notate patients' medical records. Diploma programs for pharmacy technicians typically include both classroom instruction and supervised clinical experience. Students learn to operate medical equipment to mix medical compounds, form pills, fill capsules and compose liquids. Programs also instruct students on relevant medical terminology and often on medical billing techniques as well.
Applicants need at least a high school diploma or its equivalency to enter a pharmacy technician diploma program. Since working as a pharmacy technician involves understanding how to mix precise amounts of substances, students are advised to develop their mathematics and scientific skills before enrolling in a diploma program. High school courses in art or machine shop might help students develop the fine motor skills needed to operate the medical equipment used in pharmacy technology.
The classes offered in pharmacy technician diploma programs emphasize practical skills used to assist pharmacists. Students learn about the effects of various medications on the human body, the equipment used to mix substances and computer programs used to monitor prescriptions. Programs often require students to take courses on the following topics:
- Pharmaceutical technology
- Mathematics for pharmacy technicians
- Legal aspects of the pharmaceutical industry
- Medicinal compound mixtures
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Retail pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and pharmaceutical companies all employ pharmacy technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) predicted that there would be job growth of about 32% in the field between 2010 and 2020. According to the BLS in 2012, pharmacy technicians earned an hourly median wage of $14.10.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education Options
Pharmacy technicians usually need to register with their state of employment. Registration requirements vary, but generally include holding a diploma in pharmacy technology and paying a registration fee. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) offer voluntary national certification tests for those interested in improving their job prospects.
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