Pharmacy Tech Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Huntsville Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near Huntsville AL, you might be pondering just how to choose the right school to get your education and training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many future students begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical concerns when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Job placement and intership programs in addition to accreditation are equally important if not more so as location and cost. You may also choose to look into some accredited pharmacy tech online programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will cover these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two options to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include lab and classroom training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Huntsville AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech programs opt to get certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, many Huntsville AL employers will only hire a technician that is certified. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requirements are that the applicant be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Programs Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacy technician online college, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in a local Huntsville pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be taken over the internet in your Huntsville AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for many students, especially for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online program you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online training may be the ideal solution for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you would like to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech programs to choose from in the Huntsville AL area and throughout the Country, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Huntsville residence. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other variables that you must take into consideration so that you may effectively compare programs. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? Many pharmacy tech colleges and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to offer a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online education. Be sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in getting 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 Huntsville 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 a number of pharmacies desire that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacy tech program should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which may be met through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Check if the programs have associations with Huntsville AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Finding that initial position in Huntsville AL after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a difficult undertaking without any assistance. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Huntsville AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry 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 perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacy technician school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Huntsville AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Huntsville Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the ideal pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping customers with their health is your objective. In the past, most pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician schools include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the appropriate education and determination you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Huntsville Alabama.