Become a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy Technicians (PTs) ensure that the right medication gets to the right patient at the right time. Employment opportunities for PTs abound in many different types of pharmacies including retail, hospitals, long-term care, compounding, home infusion, mail order, and pharmaceutical wholesalers. PTs can also be employed in administrative capacities at insurance companies.
Salary & Outlook
In 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) placed the median pay for pharmacy technicians at $32,000 per year. With a greater demand for pharmaceuticals services, employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow by nearly 12% through 2026.
Pharmacy Technician Training at HCC
In less than a year, you can be ready for a new career as a Pharmacy Technician. HCC’s training meets Maryland Board of Pharmacy regulations and is typically held twice a year, in the fall and the winter/spring term. Upon successful completion of this training, you will be eligible to apply for registration with the Maryland Board of Pharmacy and to sit for the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) exam.
The entire program is 300 hours (140 hours of theory training and 160 externship hours), taking place over five to six months.
Pharmacy Technician Theory Course Prerequisites include:
- At least 18 years in age
- A high school diploma or GED
- Ability to speak and understand standard American English*;
- Basic math skills including the ability to solve simple algebraic equations**;
- Good communication and interpersonal skills;
- Basic computer data entry skills and internet access; and
- Must have no criminal record.
*To improve your English Language skills for greater success in the healthcare courses, call 443-518-1680 or visit: howardcc.edu/elc or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
**Please Note: It is especially critical to be confident in your knowledge of basic math and basic principles of algebra. Basic math skills and principles of algebra are extremely important for patient safety. A pharmacy technician’s ability to calculate proper doses must be evident for successful completion of the course. If you need to improve your math skills for success in the Pharmacy Technician training course, you can enroll in the Pharmacy Technician Math Skills course before starting the pharmacy technician training course.
For prerequisites for Pharmacy Technician Externship Placement, you MUST:
- Submit a completed student health profile along with proof of medical insurance coverage by the eighth week of class;
- Have a resume prepared to submit upon initial selection/request of an externship site for a potential placement;
- Pass the Pharmacy Technician theory comprehensive final exam at a minimum of 75%;
- Have no criminal record results from Maryland Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) Background Check;
- Pass a Drug Screening Test at least 30 days from the Externship Start Date;
- Have reliable transportation to an Externship Site. Facilities on bus routes cannot be guaranteed;
- Be available to complete no less than 20-25 hours per week during an externship assignment;
- Be flexible to the schedule of the specific pharmacy site assigned for externship;
- Adhere to required professional behaviors of the externship pharmacy site.
An externship placement with any potential pharmacy site is in part dependent upon a criminal background check and drug testing in addition to passing the final comprehensive exam at a minimum of 75% and depends on student compliance and cooperation with the externship assistant who manages the communication and initial arrangements between students and the pharmacy sites. Students may be required to complete an interview and receive acceptance with a potential site for an externship placement confirmation.
Criminal Background Check & Drug Test
Criminal Background Check: On the first night of class, the instructor will provide the procedure and required timeframe of the criminal background check. The cost is approximately $65-70 and is not included in the tuition/fees of the course. You must have no criminal record to participate in the course and externship.
Drug Testing: On the first night of class, the instructor will provide the procedure and required
timeframe for the drug test. The cost of a drug test is approximately $65 and is not included in the
tuition/fees of the course. You are required to take and pass a drug test at least 30 days before an
externship placement can be arranged.
Criminal Background Check and Drug Testing instructions will be provided during the class.
The Pharmacy Technician theory training provides on-campus classroom instruction, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. and select Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes online assignments as well as an additional 23 hours of off-site assignments.
Training covers all required skills to become a certified pharmacy technician along with significant elements of professionalism and employer expectations in addition to required off-site pharmacy shadowing and/or practicum assignments prior to the externship placement. You will learn about the entire process of handling a prescription, from the time of receipt of the prescription to final dispensing of medication to the patient. The skills/demonstration labs will focus on the importance of accurate pharmacy calculations and performance demonstrations of pharmacy technician duties according to the “scope of practice” and the pharmacy technician as a member of the patient’s healthcare team.
You will also become acquainted with other aspects of retail pharmacy such as over-the-counter medications and third-party (insurance) billing.
You will be given quizzes, exams, and skill/demonstration lab exercises throughout the program as well as homework assignments. You are required to maintain an average of 75% or higher throughout the course of training as well as pass the final comprehensive exam at a minimum of 75%.. At the end of the theory training, you will be given a comprehensive final exam. To be eligible to proceed to an externship assignment, you must pass the final comprehensive exam at a minimum of 75%.
An externship performing daily pharmacy technician tasks consisting of 160 hours (including a minimum of 20-25 hours per week during externship placement) at local area pharmacies is required to complete this class.
If feasible, students may complete up to 40 hours per week during externship placement. Externship eligibility is in part dependent upon a criminal background check and drug testing in addition to passing the final comprehensive exam at a minimum of 75%. Students with criminal records should check with the Maryland Board of Pharmacy and/or the PCTB to determine eligibility for certification at PTCB.org.
The externship assistant will assist each student with placement. Work hours will be discussed and established between student and externship site pharmacist.
Current Partnerships for Externship Placements:
- Anne Arundel Medical Center
- Howard County General Hospital
- Johns Hopkins
- Saint Agnes
- CVS, including Target Stores
- Harris Teeter Stores
- Vitascript Compounding Pharmacy
To earn a certificate, you must:
- Attend all class hours, participate in and successfully complete all required online and off-site assignments, and skills/demonstration labs;
- Complete all homework assignments and pass all quizzes and exams at 75%
- Successfully complete the Pharmacy Technician Training Theory (140 hours) and pass the comprehensive final exam at a minimum of 75%;
- Successfully complete the Externship (160 hours);
- Complete the Maryland Board of Pharmacy Registration Application for submission at the end of the class.
Tuition and fees are $2,995 for the theory training and required externship placement. This includes $2,308 in fees not eligible for waiver. Standard refund policy does not apply. Refunds issued only until the day before the class starts. No refunds on or after the class start date.
Cost includes the shadowing and/or practicum assignments and externship placement, Maryland Board of Pharmacy Registration, and the PTCB exam application.
You should expect additional course costs if you live outside of Howard County. (See noncredit registration form.)
You must register for all four sections (Theory I & II and Externship I & II) at the same time.
Pharmacy Technician Online Course Offered With Career Step
You can also train at home! If you are interested in preparing to become a pharmacy technician, this self-paced program offered in partnership with Career Step, one of the nation’s leading providers of online training, allows you to learn according to your schedule.
This 600-hour Pharmacy Technician (ASHP/ACPE) program prepares individuals for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) Exam and is accredited by ASHP/ ACPE American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists/Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Enrollment includes 12 months of online access, 400 hours of training and 200 hours in an externship, ebooks, a laboratory kit, and a voucher to take the national PTCB certification exam. In addition, Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy have partnered with Career Step to provide the required externship to complete the program. $3,119 (includes $2,909 in fees*).
Start dates include:
Aug 26, Sep 9 or 23, Oct 7 or 21, Nov 4 or 18, Dec 2 or 16, Jan 13 or 27
Select the start date that works best for you. Refund policy does not apply to this course.
Free Information Session
Register for this session for an in-depth overview and to get all your questions answered. At this information session you will receive customized registration documents and instructions and learn about receiving a free laptop, iPad or Kindle with electronic text upon enrollment in a program. This session is free, but you must register to reserve a seat.
Wed 6:30pm-8:45pm, Aug 14
XE-423 7271 #1654 Gateway Campus
After the Aug 14 information session listed above, the next information session is scheduled for Wed, March 4, 6:30 p.m.-8:45 p.m. for the following start dates for each program: Mar 16 or 30; Apr 14 or 24; May 11 or 26, Jun 8 or 22.
Payment plans are now available through our partnership with Career Step. Find out more about our payment plans and how to register at the above free information session.
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