Pharmacy Tech College
How to Enroll In the Best One Near Pelham Alabama
It’s time to select and enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree program near Pelham AL so you can get the right training to begin a career in the rewarding field of medicine. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important factors when picking a school, they are not the sole ones. Job placement and intership programs as well as accreditation are equally important if not more so as cost and location. And if you are interested in studying in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will address 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 Training Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Pelham AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy tech colleges elect to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Pelham AL pharmacies will only employ a tech that is certified. There are two organizations that provide 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 work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Colleges
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy technician online college, it's necessary to realize that most schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in a local Pelham pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy technician so as to acquire some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken online in your Pelham AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online colleges are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials can be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online instruction may be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
Once you have determined whether you wish to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech schools to choose from in the Pelham AL area and throughout the United States, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Pelham residence. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other issues that you must consider in order to effectively compare colleges. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? Most pharmacist technician colleges and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national 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 offer a complete quality education. Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Don't forget to confirm that the degree or certificate program together with the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Pelham AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many employers prefer that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy tech college should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of work experience. This requirement can be satisfied by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of professional experience for certification, which may be satisfied by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the schools have associations with Pelham AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first position in Pelham AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any support. Ask if the schools you are researching 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 a good reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Pelham AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Pelham AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Learn More on Becoming a Pharmacy Technician in Pelham
Choose the Best Pelham Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where assisting customers with their health is your objective. In the past, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy technician programs include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the proper education and commitment you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Pelham Alabama.
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