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The healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing in the world and right now, the pharmacy technician field is definitely a hot career!

In addition to earning a great salary, according to national data from the BLS, Pharmacy technicians get to enjoy the feeling of helping people in need without going to medical school for years or touching blood!

These professionals also have the added bonus of being able to work in a variety of settings including local drug stores, hospitals, nursing homes, and even in the military!

Now here’s the thing: with so many awesome career perks, there are more people vying for top technician spots. To really stand out from the crowd and have the best chance at being considered by employees, it’s critical to become certified.

Below, we’ve created a list of our favorite and best Pharmacy Technician schools.  Read more about what we look for and our methodology below…but without further ado:

Here’s the list of Best Schools and Classes:

 

1
Preppy
Top Pick

Why We Love This

  • 100% Online
  • Accredited University
  • Fastest Completion
  • Lowest Price
  • No Textbooks or Fees
  • Free Laptop

Preppy is a gamechanger for starting your career as a pharmacy technician.

This innovative company has joined forces with the very reputable Auburn University to offer students top-notch career training and certification preparation… without the hefty price tag or years of study.

Why do we love it?

It’s faster, affordable, and you complete your training completely online and at your pace.

Your program could be finished in as little as a two months, and be ready for the major pharmacy technician certifications like the:

  • CPhT – Certified Pharmacy Technician from Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
  • CPhT – Certified Pharmacy Technician from the National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA)
  • etc.

Plus, unlike other low-cost certification options that are either un-accredited or lacking reputation, Preppy’s program is through Auburn University, and that means you’ll get an awesome university completion certificate to hang in your home or office and an impressive addition to your resume.

In a nutshell, Preppy’s program has it all: a University reputation combined with an industry-low price.

Am I biased? That’s an emphatic “YES!”. I spent years frustrated with the lack of good schools for Pharmacy Technicians, and I’m now so thrilled to see Preppy available for everyone.

Their program is also completely online and self-paced without textbook fees or any additional fees that some schools secretly add on.

This is a big deal and very unique in the industry. Almost all other certification programs around require you to drive to a physical campus every week.

But this program accommodates any schedule. That means if you are currently working or have small children at home, you never have to miss a day or special event like a recital or soccer game. You can study at night from your couch or your favorite local coffee shop.

2
Penn Foster

Key Highlights

  • Online
  • No Textbooks or Fees
  • Self-Paced
  • Not Regionally Accredited
  • Poor Refund Policy
  • For-Profit College

Penn Foster has been around a very long time to specifically help high school students and other adults access career relevant programs. They offer a Pharmacy Technician Diploma program, and we like the fact that it’s online, self paced, provides a thorough curriculum and at a good price point. They also include a volunteer externship.

However, Here’s What We Don’t Like:

First, the refund policy for this program is very poor and risky in our minds.  While the best programs on our list will offer a 30 day money back guarantee, Penn Foster only offers a 6 day money back refund. Six days is just not enough time to judge the program, and we feel it creates too high of a risk to be unhappy and thus ultimately stuck with a large bill.  Without that sufficient time which we think is a dealkiller, you run the risk.

Next, while Penn Foster is a college institution, it is a For-Profit college which many people have a problem with.  For-profit universities received a lot of bad press in prior years due to certain recruiting practices and government crackdowns.  Finally, it is only nationally accredited as opposed to widely considered better, and more reputable, regional accreditation that many of the best university programs offer.

3
Eastern Iowa Community Colleges

Key Highlights

  • Online
  • Externship Included
  • Accredited Community College
  • Very Long Duration (12 months)
  • Mid-High Price Range

Eastern Iowa Community College, or eicc as it’s commonly known, was created in 1965 in the state of Iowa and is a combination of the Clinton, Muscatine, and Scott community colleges as well as the vocational and technical programs of some additional schools.  EICC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the colleges are approved by the Iowa Department of Education.

EICC has a strong focus on vocational programs and does offer a wide variety of options including their Pharmacy Technician program.  We like that it’s completely online, accredited, and based on the curriculum, prepares students for the necessary info to pass the PTCB.

However, we do have concerns regarding the type of online lectures and how interactive/immersive they are, as well as the very long program duration.  The program is 12 months long compared to our best-in-class options that are only 2 months long.

Finally, while the price is better than most accredited options, it’s still in the Mid-high range.

4
San Diego State University - Global

Key Highlights

  • Online
  • Externship Included
  • Accredited
  • Very Long Duration (12 months)
  • Learning Experience May Not Be As Immersive
  • Mid-High Price Range

San Diego State University, or SDSU, was founded in 1897 and is part of the California State University system.  More recently, their department College of Extended Studies was designed to serve and help students with professional or personal goals and designed mostly for adults with A focus on flexibility. In a more recent development that college was renamed to SDSU Global Campus, and offers a pharmacy technician certification program.

We like the fact that SDSU offers an online pharmacy program. It matches there mission and dedication to making their programs more accessible. It’s also an accredited university, and they do include an externship with their program.

We do have some concerns with their program though:

First, the program duration is very long at 12 months. With other programs coming in far shorter, it’s a long program for those who want to get into the workplace sooner.  In addition, the price is on the mid higher range as there are accredited university programs that are more affordable.

Finally, while the curriculum itself is thorough according to the PTCB, we’re led to believe that the interactiveness and engagement of their online learning format may not be comparable to other programs, and could thus diminish the student experience.

What Makes a Good School for Pharmacy Tech Certification?

The good news is demand for pharmacy technicians is on the rise! The not so good news is, to meet this demand, numerous colleges and universities have started to offer their own certification programs. Sadly, many of these programs aren’t up to snuff, not only in terms of the curriculum but the overall structure as well.

So what makes a good school for pharmacy technician certifications and why did we choose the programs we did?

Simple. They ticked all the following boxes:

Their Courses are 100% Online

Over the past decade, online learning has become hugely popular in comparison to traditional on-campus programs and for good reason. Online programs offer a fantastic work-life balance. You don’t need to relocate to another state for your education, and you have plenty of time to continue to do the things you enjoy.

As an added bonus, adult students can continue to work and never have to worry about committing to two schedules that are cast in stone.

For a majority of students, particularly those with a job and family to raise, getting certified trough an online program makes a lot of sense!

Prepares You for Certification

Online courses are great, but the entire goal of your education is to become certified. We chose those schools who focus on preparing students for the major certifications, in this case the CPhT from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the CPhT from the National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA).

Learning is Self-Paced

Self-paced learning, in our opinion, is superior. Think back to when you were in school. It was pretty obvious that some kids understood the class material right way, some got it a little later, and some got it much later. We all learn in our own time.

Self-paced learning is also incredibly beneficial to busy adults who have other responsibilities. Someone right out of high school with no responsibilities might be able to put in eight hours a day for studying, whereas an adult with a job and two kids may only be able to study for one hour at night.

This kind of freedom is priceless and how learning should be!

No Hidden Fees

Many institutions quietly tack on textbook fees and other costs. The programs we selected include textbooks and other learning materials.

They Provide an Immersive Learning Experience

In addition to textbooks, it’s important that a certification program be led by an actual living, breathing professor. This kind of curriculum is always more engaging and immersive. While the lessons will be videotaped so you can watch them at any time, it’s still invaluable to be learning from someone who has passion and experience in the profession,

Robust Support

Of course, learning requires you to be able to ask questions when they arise. We selected programs that offered students robust support to get answers, and tech help, when needed.

Externships are Part of the Program

Acquiring knowledge is your first step toward an exciting career as a pharmacy technician. But there’s nothing like gaining some hands-on experience to really boost your skills and confidence. Plus, employers tend to select candidates with real-world experience. The programs we’ve selected all offer some for of externship where you can gain invaluable experience.

The Importance of Pharmacy Technician Training

The healthcare industry is booming and demand for pharmacy technicians is also skyrocketing. These professionals perform a variety of important tasks everyday including assembling medicines, taking phone calls from doctor’s offices, organizing supplies and ensuring they are always in stock, calling insurance companies on behalf of a patient and answering any questions the patient may have about their prescription.

A career as a pharmacy technician is a very rewarding one. To begin, you can experience job security. With the healthcare industry growing each year, and with an aging population that will require medications, these professionals will be in high demand for the foreseeable future.

In addition, there is something incredibly satisfying about helping people for a living. As a pharmacy technician, you can be a smiling face and voice of clarity for people who are dealing with illness and disease. You’ll also have your choice of working environments. Work at your local pharmacy or choose to work in a hospital, nursing home, compounding pharmacy and more!

And finally, becoming certified as a pharmacy technician opens the door up to many advancement opportunities! You may decide to become a community store manager, Pharmacy Technician Supervisor, or advance to prepare chemo-therapy intravenous solutions as an Intravenous Pharmacy Technician in a hospital.

Once you become certified, the sky rally is the limit!

Our Methodology

Wow! We’ve just covered a lot of information so let’s recap:

We thought long and hard about what programs to include in this article. As I mentioned, there are a lot of schools out there that are now offering pharmacy technician programs, but not all are created equal.

After sifting through a lot of curriculums, we prioritized the following factors when considering programs, many of which we felt were “Must Haves” for any certification program:

  • Online programs
  • Comprehensive preparation for certification exams
  • Self-paced learning
  • Textbooks and other learning materials are included
  • An immersive learning experience
  • Support
  • Externships are provided for valuable real-life experience

If you’re interested in a career as a pharmacy technician, you could become certified and begin working in less than a year! This is your chance to step into an exciting industry and build an in-demand career!

 

 


About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.