Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane "pill-flipping" life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.

Are Pharmacy Tech Training Programs Worth Attending?

JUNE 20, 2016


If you scroll through enough message boards online, you’ll see convincing arguments for and against pharmacy technician training programs. As with any higher education, there are personal and professional benefits to be considered.
 
Choosing to enroll in formal training is a very personal decision that requires careful evaluation of the following factors:
 
Potential for Higher Salary
Depending on state laws or company standards, pharmacy technicians may not be required to have formal training or become certified. In some instances, training and certification may only provide an annual salary boost of a few thousand dollars.
 
You’d be wise not to base your decision to attend pharmacy technician school on future earning potential alone. So, take a close look at the policies of the places where you wish to work, the laws in your state, and the earning potential at your desired workplaces before deciding whether training would truly benefit you.
 
Your potential to earn more money after formal training almost wholly depends on how much value your prospective employer or desired work setting places on it.
 
Ability to Find Employment
Unfortunately, having a pharmacy technician school diploma doesn’t necessarily make it easier to find employment. If inexperienced techs are the norm in your area or at your desired company, obtaining that diploma may actually make it harder for you to compete for jobs when you’re up against candidates who will take lower wages.
 
In other instances, having that diploma may make it easier for you to get hired. Certified techs and those who have been formally trained tend to require less on-the-job training than uncertified, inexperienced techs—a significant timesaver for employers. Plus, attending school and getting certified may give you an edge when you seek a a job in certain highly competitive health care settings like acute-care hospitals.
 
Tolerance for Student Debt
All educational endeavors cost money. Before you apply to a pharmacy technician training program, take a close look at your finances and future earning potential to determine how much debt you’ll be able to bear comfortably.
 
You can easily get in over your head with student debt if you’re unable to find a job immediately after graduation, or if you overestimate your initial earning potential. Before you make a decision, ask yourself, “Am I willing to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 a month on debt?” Some debt payment plans can easily cost you a quarter of your monthly paycheck.
 
Availability of Financial Aid
Pharmacy technician training programs may be a good idea if you’re able to obtain financial assistance such as scholarships or employer incentives, which would reduce the amount of debt you’d incur. Many employers pay a portion of the cost for their techs to attend formal training or get certified. You may also be able to obtain other types of scholarships or participate in loan forgiveness programs that would make formal training worthwhile.
 
Time
Many techs in training work other jobs while attending school and have personal obligations, so make sure your schedule will allow you to comfortably attend classes, study, and occasionally relax. If you feel pressed for time and still want to pursue a pharmacy technician career, you may still be able to get a job without formal training in exchange for a slightly lower salary.
 
Personal Value
Some individuals learn more effectively in a formal education setting and feel overwhelmed by on-the-job training. Depending on your learning style and preferences, formal training may be the ticket to pushing your career forward.
 
Quality
Don’t lower your standards to schools in your local area or whatever seems easiest. Aim high to receive the best training. Plus, attending a more prestigious institution provides a higher-quality network for job opportunities.

Bottom line: you must weigh each of these factors and decide for yourself whether pharmacy tech school is right for you. No individual factor should be considered in isolation, and looking at the big picture will help you to make the best decision. 



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