Pharmacy Tech College
How to Choose the Best One Near Birmingham Alabama
It’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy technician degree or certificate program near Birmingham AL in order to get the proper training to build a career in the rewarding field of healthcare. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are significant concerns when picking a college, they are not the only ones. Job placement and intership programs as well as accreditation are just as important if not more so as cost and location. You might also decide to look into a few accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas
Individuals wishing 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 provide an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an approved Birmingham AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Choices
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician schools opt to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Birmingham AL employers will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Programs Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacy tech online school, it's necessary to understand that most programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Birmingham pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to obtain some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Birmingham AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, especially for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials may be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online classes might be the best solution for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have determined whether you want to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist technician programs to choose from in the Birmingham AL area and throughout the Country, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for schools that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Birmingham home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are many other variables that you should consider so that you may adequately compare programs. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to offer a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online education. Make sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with helping make sure that you get a superior education, it might assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Birmingham AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many employers desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacy tech school needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This qualification may be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates a year of job experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. One of the best ways 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 clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the colleges have a working relationship with Birmingham AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first position in Birmingham AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any help. 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 field generating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Birmingham AL residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist tech school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Birmingham Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the right pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where assisting customers with their wellness is your objective. In the past, most pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician schools include both classroom and clinical training. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to choose a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the proper training and dedication you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Birmingham Alabama.