Penn Foster Pharmacy Technician Program Review

Pharmacy tech is one of a number of careers in the medical field that is growing fast, offers a wide range of opportunities to people of all ages, all over the country in addition to a good salary and career advancement prospects.

Before you can work as a pharmacy tech though, you need to complete the education needed to become a certified pharmacy technician (CPhT).

Penn Foster is one of the schools that offers students the opportunity to do that.

But is it a good choice for those who want to enter the exciting and challenging field?

That is what we are going to look at here.

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What is a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy technicians receive and fill prescriptions under the supervision of licensed pharmacists.

Duties related to the daily operation of the pharmacy are often part of the job, such as answering phones, creating prescription labels, maintaining patient profiles and prescription histories, completing cash register transactions, preparing insurance claim forms and inventory tasks.

Young female pharmacy tech stock taking in a pharmacy

Why Penn Foster?

Penn Foster Career School

While it is now primarily an online school, Penn Foster has a long history. Back in 1890 Thomas J. Foster, a newspaper editor based in Scranton, Pennsylvania founded a school to help local coal miners get an education that would allow them to advance into other fields. The school went on to become one of the first correspondence schools, offering students the chance to 'study by mail'.

In 2006 the rapid growth of the Internet allowed Penn Foster to move online, and offer more than 100 different certificate and degree programs, including Pharmacy Tech.

Penn Foster Pharmacy Tech Program

How does Penn Foster's Pharmacy Tech Program stack up against others?

We're going to take a look at some basics. 

First check out this quick video for an overview of the pharmacy tech course at Penn Foster. 

Is penn foster pharmacy tech program a degree or certificate?

It is a Pharmacy Technician diploma combined with an externship.

See this sample lesson for what to expect!

Can you study online?

Yes, this course is entirely online.

Actual Penn Foster pharmacy tech program reviews

Here's quick video of Jerrymane Andrews - a graduate of Penn Foster’s Pharmacy Technician - where she shares her experience, the challenges she overcame and the overall feedback.

Trustpilot rates Penn Foster as "excellent" with a total of 1,110 individual reviews left by former graduates.

Gradreports states:

49% of 151 students said they would recommend this school to others

Amanda A., a former Penn Foster Pharmacy Tech secured a job shortly after graduation: 

"Not only did I receive my Pharmacy Technician Career Diploma in less than a year, but I just received a job offer from Rite Aid Pharmacy for a Pharmacy Cashier position. I only graduated my program 9 days ago! Plus, it's a pay increase over my current pay rate. Enrolling at Penn Foster Career School is the best decision I ever made."

Is Penn Foster pharmacy tech program accredited?

Certification is at the heart of being a pharmacy tech. There are currently two different exams students can choose to sit to become a certified pharmacy technician; the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) or NHA ExCPT exam. The Penn Foster program prepares students to pass either one.

The program is in ASHP/ACPE candidate status for accreditation and is aligned with ASHP/ACPE standards and is recognized by both examining boards.

In terms of the school itself, it is BBB accredited, and the Penn Foster Career School, the body that officially offers the Pharmacy Tech course, is licensed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Private Licensed Schools as well as the Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Penn Foster Career School has also been accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) as a school that meets international standards for online career education.

It should be noted that the diploma this course awards does not make you a licensed pharmacy tech, as is the case for other pharmacy tech schools. The only way to become a certified pharmacy technician (CPhT) is by passing one of the accredited licensing tests. As the requirements for these tests vary from state to state you should contact your state's Employment Board to discover what the specifics of the requirements are before enrolling in any course.

How long does it take to do pharmacy tech Penn Foster course?

The Penn Foster Pharmacy Tech course is billed as a course you ‘take at your own pace'. This can be especially useful to those who are already in full time employment are studying to make a career change, as the self-paced online nature of the course allows you to work at any time, from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

To receive the Pharmacy Technician Professional Diploma that this course awards you will need to complete ten modules of written study and a hands-on externship. The written portions of the course cover the essentials that students need to pass the PTCE. The course modules include fundamentals of pharmacy and pharmacology, medical law and ethics, current regulations, HIPPA best practices, bodily systems, pharmaceutical math and customer service soft skills training.

An externship must be completed before a candidate can graduate from the program. The Penn Foster course requires that students complete at least 160 hours of training in a community pharmacy.

The school does help place their students in these externships, and have agreements with both CVS and Walgreen's to place their students. As these are the largest pharmacy chains in the country, most students can be placed locally with relative ease.

Here's the experience of one Penn Foster graduate to say his externship on Reddit, highlighting also the challenges of securing a placement. (click the image to open it up fully)

Penn Foster Pharmacy Tech Externship

Penn Foster Pharmacy Technician Prerequisites

In order to enter the Penn Foster Pharmacy Technician Diploma course you will need to be a high school graduate or hold a GED.

The requirements to take either of the licensing tests that come after you have your diploma are somewhat stricter. Before you can take those tests you will need to meet a number of other requirements, including passing a drug test and a criminal background check and being up to date on certain vaccinations.

Penn Foster Pharmacy Tech Cost

In 2019 the total cost of the Penn Foster Pharmacy Technician Professional online program is between $1,100 and $1,400. The cost varies according to how a student pays for the course. If you pay in full upon enrollment the cost will be the lowest possible. If you take their monthly payment plan to spread out the cost you will pay more, up to $300 more, but for some people this additional expense may be the only way they can afford to take the course.

Whatever payment plan you choose the school provides a practice lab kit and the cost of sitting the PTCE exam is also included in the tuition price. This cost will only be covered once however, if a student needs to resit the exam they will need to cover the cost of that themselves

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What is their graduation, employment rate after graduation?

In 2019 Penn Foster does not publish graduation rates for individual programs. However, according to their press kit, which covers statistics for all graduates, not just Pharmacy Tech graduates, 69% of their graduates work in their field full-time and over 80% report feeling that their Penn Foster education improved their professional skills.

69% graduates work in their field

69%

Graduating from the Penn Foster Pharmacy Tech program is a great first step. To begin working as a certified pharmacy technician (CPhT) a graduate must pass their certification exam. During their course students are provided with practice tests and tutor guidance to help them pass this exam.

The biggest question many students have is will this all be worth it? 

In terms of the employment outlook for pharmacy techs the prospects remain good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average salary changes based on your state of residence but the national average salary in 2018 was $32,700 or $15.72 per hour for a Certified Pharmacy Technician. These salaries vary by state and employer, and the earnings potential for pharmacy techs employed in hospitals and other medical environments do skew somewhat higher than that paid to pharmacy techs employed in retail pharmacies.

ANNUAL MEDIAN SALARY OF

$32,700

PHARMACY TECHNICIAN

The career opportunities for a pharmacy tech are also increasing. A rise in the number of online pharmacies has opened up a new avenue of employment and working as a pharmacy technician does provide a solid foundation for those who want to advance, and eventually pursue a career as a pharmacist.

Employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow by 7% nationally between 2018 and 2028.

Job Growth

7%

Final Word

As a large, national institution offering accredited diploma options and preparation and guidance for taking and passing the PTCE Penn Foster is an option anyone thinking about training as a pharmacy tech to seriously consider. However, take your time, weigh all your options and ensure you understand everything, especially the financial aspects before you commit to enrolling in any Pharmacy Tech program.

Penn foster

Penn Foster College is a private, for-profit online college with its headquarters in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

E: [email protected]

T: (800) 275-4410

HQ: 925 Oak St, Scranton, PA 18515

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Search Pharmacy Technician Programs

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