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Do You Need a Degree as a Pharmacy Tech?

The path to a fulfilling career often starts with a solid education, as it can pave the way for better job prospects, higher salaries, security, and an array of benefits. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether a degree is necessary to become a pharmacy tech, it's important to understand the current trends and requirements in the field.

There's currently no national educational standard for pharmacy technicians. In some cases, a high school diploma or GED might suffice for starting in the profession. However, the field is gradually shifting towards favoring candidates with postsecondary education or specialized pharmacy technician training. 

The pharmaceutical industry continuously evolves along with medical technology, so your learning journey extends beyond getting a job. It’s important to stay updated with recent advancements to improve your skills and remain competitive in the job market.

Having a degree in pharmacy technology or similar can make a world of difference in your job search. By investing in your education, you demonstrate your commitment to the profession and your dedication to providing exceptional patient care. As a result, potential employers may view you as a valuable asset to their team. 

What Is a Pharmacy Tech?

A pharmacy technician is an important member of the healthcare community who plays a crucial role in ensuring that patients receive safe and effective medication therapy. They’re responsible for handling all aspects of the prescription-fulfillment process, from receiving and verifying prescriptions to preparing and dispensing medications, all while working under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist.

In addition to their core responsibilities, pharmacy technicians may also tackle various administrative tasks in a pharmacy setting. These duties can include processing insurance claims, filing paperwork, managing inventory, and maintaining accurate patient records.

Pharmacy techs can find employment in a range of environments that deal with the distribution and dispensing of prescription medications. Most pharmacy technicians work in retail pharmacies, such as Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS, but they can also secure positions in hospitals, critical care facilities, and long-term care institutions that have in-house pharmacies catering to in-patient needs.

This role often serves as a stepping stone to a more advanced career in the pharmaceutical field. As they gain valuable hands-on experience, some technicians choose to continue their educational journey. This is why you should consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in healthcare if you’re serious about building a long, successful career in this field. 

What Are the Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Tech?

While a degree may not be a strict requirement for entering the field of pharmacy technology, having one can significantly improve your chances of landing a job. Employers often prefer candidates with formal education, as they bring a higher level of skills and knowledge to the table compared to those without a degree.

Here are some of the key requirements for becoming a pharmacy tech:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Background check and/or drug screening (as required by some employers)

In addition to meeting these basic qualifications, successful pharmacy techs typically possess a range of skills that enable them to excel in their role. Some of the most important skills for a pharmacy tech include: 

  • Attention to detail
  • Strong communication skills
  • Customer service
  • Basic math skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Time management
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability

Certificate vs. Degree for a Pharmacy Tech

When it comes to pursuing a career as a pharmacy tech, there are different education paths you can take. Understanding the differences between a certificate and a degree is essential for making an informed decision about your short- and long-term success in the field.

A certificate program in pharmacy technology involves a shorter duration of study, often less than a year, followed by an externship for hands-on experience. These programs focus on providing students with the essential skills and knowledge to work as a pharmacy tech. However, it's crucial to distinguish between a certificate from a local community college or online institution and national certification from organizations like the Pharmacy Times Continuing Education (PTCE), Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT), or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Upon completing the coursework and experiential components of a certificate program, graduates are eligible to sit for one of the national pharmacy technician certification exams.

On the other hand, a degree in pharmacy technology or a related field offers a much more extensive course of study that delves deeper into the medical, pharmaceutical, and mathematical aspects of a pharmacy tech's career. In addition to these specialized courses, degree programs often include core classes in humanities and other sciences, providing a well-rounded education. Most bachelor's degree programs in pharmacy technology take two to four years to complete, depending on the program.

For those considering further education, a bachelor's degree in health services coordination or healthcare management can be a great choice. While these degrees may not focus specifically on pharmacy technology, they provide a solid foundation in the broader healthcare field, equipping graduates with the skills and knowledge required to take on leadership roles in various healthcare settings. 

Reasons Pharmacy Techs Should Get a Degree

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in healthcare is a valuable investment in your future, offering countless advantages that will help you succeed in your career. Here are some compelling reasons why pharmacy techs should consider getting a degree:

  • Showcase your commitment to higher learning: Earning a degree demonstrates your dedication to expanding your knowledge and skills in the field. Employers always favor candidates with formal education, as it shows a strong work ethic and commitment to the profession.
  • Earn degrees to create future options for growth: A degree in pharmacy technology can open doors to career advancement and higher-paying positions. Additionally, having a degree can make it easier to transition into other healthcare roles or pursue further education in other fields such as healthcare management or health services coordination.
  • Work while completing other degrees: Many pharmacy techs use their position as an entry point to more advanced degrees. Working as a pharmacy tech while studying allows you to gain valuable experience and earn a living, making it a practical option for those seeking to further their career.
  • Be a role model for those around you: As a pharmacy tech with a degree, you can inspire colleagues, friends, and family members to pursue higher education and strive for excellence in their own careers.  

Building a Successful Pharmacy Tech Career 

H2: Building a Successful Pharmacy Tech Career 

To begin a successful career as a pharmacy technician, it's highly recommended that you pursue a degree, as it can open more opportunities in the job market and set you apart from other candidates. 

WGU is an excellent choice for those interested in pursuing a pharmacy tech career, as we offer relevant bachelor's programs, such as healthcare management and health and human service. Some advantages of our programs include:

  • Flexibility: WGU's online programs offer the flexibility to study at your own pace, making it easier to balance work, family, and educational commitments.
  • Competency-based learning: WGU's programs focus on mastering competencies rather than time spent in class, allowing you to progress through the coursework as you demonstrate your understanding of the material.
  • Affordability: We’re known for our affordable tuition rates, making higher education more accessible for aspiring pharmacy techs.
  • Quality education: Our programs are accredited and designed to provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the healthcare field.

By investing in your education and building a solid foundation of skills and knowledge, you can create a successful and fulfilling career as a pharmacy technician. With the right degree, dedication, and hard work, you'll be well prepared to make a lasting impact on the lives of patients and on the healthcare industry as a whole.

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