Career Step Pharmacy Technician Program Review
Becoming a pharmacy technician is a way to enter the hands on side of the medical profession without the need for years of schooling.
To become a Certified Pharmacy Technician candidates need to pass a formal certification test, either the long established PTCE or the newer ExCPT.
To receive CPhT certification however students need to be able to demonstrate they have both the technical knowledge required and 160 hours of practical experience. This is where a program like the Career Step Pharmacy Technician Program comes in.
Career Step is not a college, it is an online learning portal. It is accredited by a number of recognized industry boards but students cannot make use of financial aid to attend.
With this in mind is the Career Step Pharmacy Technician Program a viable alternative for those who want to enter the field?
That is what we'll look at now.
About Career Step and Their Pharmacy Technician Program
According to the company Career Step was founded to offer an educational alternative to traditional colleges 25 years ago. College tuition rates have risen steadily over the last decade and some students are priced out of a traditional path to a diploma or degree.
Career Step is owned and managed by the Carrus Learn company, which also offers Continuing Education credit courses to established medical professionals, including those who have become Certified Pharmacy Technicians, as there is a CTE requirement in order to remain certified.
Career Step Pharmacy Technician Review
Here's quick video of Michael's experience with completing the Pharm Tech program online with Career Step where he shares how he found it, the challenges he overcame and the overall feedback.
Trust Pilot rates it as "excellent" with a total of 1,140 individual reviews left by former graduates.
Is the Career Step Pharmacy Technician Program Certified?
The program is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and is a PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program. As it is not a formal school it is not accredited as one, as may be the case for other schools offering pharmacy tech programs. Whether an employer would recognize the diploma is at their discretion, but as is the case for all the pharmacy tech programs you might consider passing this course does not give you certification, only passing the PTCE or ExCPT can do that.
What Do You Learn on the Career Step Pharmacy Technician Program?
The Career Step Pharmacy Technician Program covers all the technical knowledge that is tested on both the PTCE and the ExCPT. This includes:
- Pharmacy law, regulations, and standards
- Business of a pharmacy (both retail and hospital)
- Pharmaceutical Calculations
- Nonsterile Compounding
Both certification tests have a practical experience requirement of a minimum of 130 hours although 160 is preferred.
Is an externship required for Pharmacy Technician?
Career Step provides its students with an externship with CVS or Walgreen's for them to complete this requirement.
According to Career Step:
"If you're enrolled in the ASHP version, a 200-hour externship is required, and you can apply for that upon completion of all online coursework and after completing and passing off your lab kit."
"If you are enrolled in the original version of the program, an externship is not required unless it’s part of your state licensing requirements. The 180-hour externship can be applied for after completion of the Pharmacy Calculations module or within 6 months of graduation."
If a student prefers however they can arrange their own externship elsewhere and provided their hours and duties are properly documented then this experience will be acceptable both to Career Step and the certifying bodies.
How Do You Complete the Career Step Pharmacy Technician Program?
The program is completed online, excluding the externship, and the training is provided via both written materials and videos. Students can access the course for an initial period of 4 months with an opportunity to extend that period twice if needed.
The 4-month completion estimate is based on full time study, but for those working or taking care of a family who cannot devote as much time to study in total you will have 12 months to complete the course.
Here's a quick look at their online portal where you'll be logging in to access the program.
Career Step also offers the following:
- Knowledge base articles/documents which provide information for frequently asked questions and issues
- Discussion boards (chat rooms and forums)
- Chat with an Expert: a one-on-one chat feature with member of Career Step's Customer Experience team
- Contact support
- Career Development Services (feature coming soon)
How Much Does the Career Step Pharmacy Technician Program Cost?
It should be noted that the Career Step Pharmacy Technician Program is currently one of the more expensive options in terms of an online Pharmacy Technician program. The total cost is stated as $2,999 (as of the time of publishing this post). This can be financed via Affirm, but that will accrue considerable interest charges.
The tuition fee includes access to all the training modules, Skype consultations with instructors, a practical lab kit and the externship with a major pharmacy. The fee to take the PTCE exam is also included in the tuition cost.
Is the Career Step Pharmacy Tech Program a Good Alternative to College?
As the company itself often states it offers an alternative to traditional colleges. It is not the only online portal to do so though, as there are a number of online schools, schools that are accredited as educational institutions, which offer similar programs.
The people who might be best suited to this program are those who are simply too busy to attend school or do full time school at home. It may also be suited to military spouses, as the MyCAA program offered by the military is accepted by Career Step and often covers the full cost of tuition.
There is also no requirement for a high school diploma to complete this course, but that, or a GED, is required to take a certification test.
Is Pharmacy Tech Still a Growing Field?
According to official statistics, pharmacy tech is a career path that is still growing, as you can see below. It also offers opportunities for advancement, both within companies and some pharmacy techs, as they begin to earn more money do choose to go to a formal college on a part time basis to continue a higher level of education.
In terms of earnings potential, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2018 average salary at the national level broke down as shown in the table below. And this set of statistics predicts even greater growth.
Pharmacy Technician Facts
2018 Median Pay:
$32,700 per year or $15.72 per hour
Min. entry level education:
High school diploma or equivalent
Work experience in a related field:
No. of jobs in 2018
Job Outlook 2018-2028
7% (faster than average)
In terms of where you can work a career diploma, along with certification, will usually qualify you to work in a retail pharmacy. Often hospital pharmacies prefer to hire those with a higher level of education - an Associate’s Degree for example - but some smaller facilities will take experience into serious consideration as well.
As a way to gain the knowledge and experience needed to pass the tests to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician the Career Step Pharmacy Technician Program offers an online, flexible alternative to traditional colleges that may be suited to you, but make sure you do your homework before you enroll in any course, with Career Step or with any other institution.
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