Pharmacy Tech Certificate Program
How to Enroll In the Right One Near Birmingham Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near Birmingham AL, you might be wondering just how to choose the right school to get your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find schools that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. A number of potential students begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical factors when picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. You may also want to take a look at some accredited pharmacy tech online programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will address these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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Pharmacy Tech Degree Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Birmingham AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required 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. Either program should provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Options
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, many Birmingham AL pharmacies will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requires that the applicant be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is required every 2 years by both programs, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Programs
Prior to selecting a pharmacist tech online training program, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in an area Birmingham pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Birmingham AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, notably for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online college you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online instruction might be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
After you have decided whether you would like to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy technician schools to pick from in the Birmingham AL area and throughout the Country, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Birmingham home. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other factors that you must consider in order to adequately compare colleges. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? Many pharmacy technician programs and vocational schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to furnish a complete quality education. Online colleges may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Be sure to verify that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it might help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Birmingham AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many employers desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist technician college should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Birmingham AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first job in Birmingham AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a daunting task without any help. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Birmingham AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacy tech program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Find Out More about How to Become a Pharmacy Tech in Birmingham
Enroll in the Best Birmingham Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the best pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to launching your career in a gratifying profession where assisting people with their health is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy tech schools include both classroom and clinical training. As we have covered in this article, it's important to choose a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate education and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Birmingham Alabama.
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