Best Pharmacy Technician Schools in Phoenix – 2021 Top Picks Reviewed

As pharmacies gain even more importance in our communities in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, pharmacy technicians have become more essential than ever. These frontline, customer facing healthcare professionals play a crucial role in healthcare across the country, and that is certainly true in Phoenix, Arizona.

In Arizona, to become, and work as, a pharmacy technician, the state requires that you be an American citizen or permanent resident alien and register with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy after passing the PTCE certification exam as administered by the PTCB - Pharmacy Technician Board.

The ExCPT - the newer pharmacy technician certification exam administered by the National Health Career Association - is now recognized by them as acceptable for registration and licensure, but the PTCB is preferred.

Education is also key. As of 2019, to sit the PTCE, a student must complete an approved training program. In Arizona this must be an offering that is approved by both the PTCB and the Arizona Board of Pharmacy. In addition, those enrolled in such programs are required to register with the Board as 'pharmacy technicians in training' before they can take part in any externships. 

In Arizona there are several pharmacy technician training programs that meet all the required standards for interested parties to choose from. We'll look at those in more detail in a moment, but first we'll look at just why you might want to become a pharmacy technician in Phoenix, Arizona in the first place.

Central Phoenix

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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Salary and Job Outlook in Phoenix

Once little more than a small town in the desert, Phoenix, Arizona is now one of the fastest growing smaller cities in the US, with more than 1.6 million people from across a wide range of demographics.

Of those people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, 6270 were working as registered pharmacy technicians, or more than 75% of the 8900 people registered as such across the state. Demand for their services is particularly high as the number of pharmacy facilities in the Phoenix area, including non-traditional pharmacies like medical marijuana dispensaries - is continuing to grow.

In terms of expected salaries, the outlook for Phoenix, Arizona pharmacy technicians is good too. In 2019 the average starting salary was $12.46 per hour, with the average salary for all techs rising to $17.09 per hour. In the 90th percentile, at the highest end of the salary scale, pharmacy technicians in AZ were paid an average wage of $23.12 per hour.

Pharmacy Technician Schools in Phoenix

As we touched on earlier, to be recognized by the Board of Pharmacy as a valid training course pharmacy technician training programs in Phoenix must meet certain minimum requirements and be approved by the PTCB.

There are eight such programs currently available, and we are going to take a closer look at each of them now.

Carrington College (Phoenix East, Phoenix North & Mesa)

? 2149 W Dunlap Ave, Ste 103 Phoenix, AZ 85021 | ☎ (602) 427-0722

Carrington College is a for profit vocational school that focuses on offering practical, hands-on education for students to prepare them for jobs in one of a variety of fields, one of them being pharmacy technology. It maintains a number of campuses across the country, including one in Phoenix, Arizona which offers the Pharmacy Technician Certificate program.

Since this is a private school and one targeted specifically at career development, it caters to students of all ages, including those adults who already out in the field of work but looking to make a career change. Classes are offered on a flexible schedule and in hybrid form, meaning that some coursework is completed online but portions - including lab work - are to be completed on campus. In addition, students must complete an externship with a local employer, as arranged by the college.

Traditional financial aid is available to help cover the cost of the program. That cost varies according to a student's personal circumstances and residency, but, according to the school's website in 2019 the average cost for an in-state student - including books, lab supplies and testing fees, was around $16,000.

To be admitted to the Carrington College pharmacy technician program - which takes around ten months to complete - students must be over the age of 18 and high school graduates or hold a GED. They must also take and pass a drug screen and criminal background check, things that are also required to take the PTCB and obtain state registration.

In addition to being a PTCB approved training program the certificate program is accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists- ASHP - which is something granted only to a limited number of such programs. 

Brookline College (Phoenix)

? 2445 W Dunlap Ave, STE 100 Phoenix, AZ 85021 | ☎ (602) 242-6265

Brookline College offers a number of different programs to local students, all the way from certificate programs to full associate degrees. For those interested in becoming a certified pharmacy technician they offer a certificate program that can be completed in as little as 36 weeks (about 8 and a half months). 

The program can be completed by students as a hybrid course, with much of the written classroom learning to be completed online. This makes it a particularly flexible program for working adults who need to fit their schooling around other commitments.

As a more traditional college, Brookline can offer students access to traditional student financial aid to pay for the Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program. The cost of the course to individual students will vary according to their age, residence status and other variables such as available income. The school itself does provide a net tuition calculator here so you can estimate what your costs might be.

Admission to the program calls for students to be over the age of 18 and hold a high school diploma or GED. In addition, they will need to show proof of their legal status and pass both criminal background and drug screening checks.

A portion of the course calls for students to complete a practical externship. Students are placed with a local Fry’s Food Stores Pharmacy or Walgreens Pharmacy to do so and receive hands-on experience that will help them considerably once they graduate.

The program offered at Brookline College is approved by the PTCB and the Arizona Board of Pharmacy, and credits earned can be applied to future study at the school for those who choose to go on to take an associate degree in Allied Health.

Gateway Community College (Central City)

? 1245 East Buckeye Road Phoenix, AZ 85034 | ☎ (602) 238-4350

Gateway Community College is a traditional community college that offers both traditional and vocational education at extremely competitive rates to Phoenix, AZ residents. For those interested in becoming a pharmacy technician their Certificate of Competency in Pharmacy Technician may be an excellent choice. 

The nine-month program is a full time offering geared primarily towards both recent high school graduates and rising seniors in 12th grade. Tuition is charged on a case by case basis according to a student's personal circumstances and residence. The school offers a net price calculator to help you figure out what your costs might be. 

Traditional Federal and State financial aid is available to those who qualify, as are a limited number of scholarships and grants. Discounts may also be available based on certain demographic criteria. Those who do not qualify for standard financial aid may be able to obtain a student loan from a private lender like Sallie Mae and payment plans are available as well.

To be admitted to the program students must meet a number of requirements, including academic minimum standards. Students must be over the age of 18, able to prove their legal status in the US, hold a high school diploma or GED by graduation and maintain/ have maintained a minimum 3.0 GPA while in high school or achieved certain minimum GED scores in reading, math, and computer technology. They must also pass drug and criminal background checks and provide proof of up to date immunizations.

In addition to giving students all the knowledge needed to be ready to take the PTCE certification test via classroom-based learning, hands-on practical experience is provided via a 200-hour externship completed at a local retail pharmacy. Prior to graduation students can also complete additional prep and practice tests to help ready them to take - and pass - their certification exam.

The course is approved by both the PTCB and the Arizona Board of Pharmacy.

Arizona College of Allied Health (Glendale)

? 2510 W Dunlap Ave, Suite 290 Phoenix, AZ 85021 | ☎ (855) 706-8382

Arizona College of Allied Health is a national vocational college offering a number of programs to help train and educate those interested in entering various healthcare fields including pharmacy technology. The school maintains campuses in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Florida, including one in the heart of Phoenix.

The 34-week Pharmacy Technician Training program offered at the school provides both an extensive overview of the skills needed to work as a pharmacy technician and the knowledge needed to pass the PTCE certification test. Students come from all walks of life and classroom-based learning is offered on a day or evening basis. Some portions of the coursework can also be completed online. 

The cost of the Pharmacy Technician Training program varies according to a student's income and other personal circumstances. The school provides a net price calculator here to help estimate your personal costs, although a personal meeting with a financial counselor is recommended.

Traditional federal and state financial aid is available to those who qualify, as are a limited number of state grants and private scholarships. The school also offers a payment plan for those choosing not to, or who are unable, to take out student loans.

For program admission students must be over the age of 18 and hold a high school diploma or GED. They must also pass criminal background and drug screens, be able to prove legal status in the US and meet minimum educational requirements in math, English and computer technology as determined by a school set and administered entrance exam.

In addition to classroom and lab-based learning students must complete a 200-hour externship with a local employer as arranged by the school. This is the last step before graduation from the program and miss be at least 75% completed before matriculation from the program.

The course has been deemed an approved training program by both the Arizona Board of Pharmacy and the PTCB. 

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PIMA Institute (Mesa)

? 957 S. Dobson Road Mesa, AZ 85202| ☎ 800-477-PIMA

Pima Medical Institute, a private vocational college, has campuses throughout the country, including one in Phoenix, AZ. The school serves a diverse student population, but its programs are particularly suited to working adults looking to make a career change.

The Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program also offers something of a fast track to completing a robust overview of the skills needed to work as a pharmacy technician and to pass the PTCE exam. For students attending daytime classes, the program takes about 35 weeks (about 8 months) to complete and 40 weeks (about 9 months) for those who chose to attend school at night.

The program is charged at a set cost, which, in 2020 is $14,106. This figure does not, however, include the cost of mandatory testing, background checks or other school fees will be incurred by students, adding another $1,000 to the final costs.

Traditional federal and state student loans are available for those who qualify, and some Arizona workforce grants may also be available to certain people. The school also offers a payment plan to those who do not take student loans, although the balance must be paid prior to graduation.

To be admitted to the PIMA program in Arizona students must be over the age of 18 and hold a high school diploma or GED. In addition, students must pay for a background check and pass it, providing the results to the school.

Later on, both the PTCB and most external employers will require drug testing and evidence of vaccines, so students are encouraged to fulfill those criteria as early as possible although they are not required for enrollment.
Students must pass a basic entrance exam and must prove that they have basic English skills on that test and can score 60% or better on the basic math section.

In addition to classroom learning, some of which can be completed online, students must complete an externship with a local employer prior to graduation. These are arranged with the help of the school.

The program is fully recognized by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the Arizona Board of Pharmacy. 

Mayo Clinic (Phoenix/Scottsdale)

? 5777 E. Mayo Blvd. Phoenix, AZ 85054| ☎ 507-284-3745

The Mayo Clinic is a national, and internationally known, medical education college. What might surprise you is that at a number of its campuses, including its Phoenix, AZ campus, adult students can complete a 20-week course to obtain a Pharmacy Technician Certificate.

The program is offered twice per year and is open to students of all ages. You may all be surprised to learn that for students in the Pharmacy Technician Program, tuition is essentially free.

The Mayo Clinic Workforce Development Scholarship, which covers the entire cost of tuition, is automatically be awarded to all enrolled students and they are not charged as long as they stay in good standing and earn passing grades. The cost of supplies and taking the PTCE test is not covered however, and those costs, by the school's own estimate, are approximately $392.

The catch? The program is designed to help meet the school - and the clinic itself's staffing needs. This means that only an extremely limited number of students are admitted and that the admissions process is a highly selective one.

Fewer than five students are admitted to the program every year at the Arizona campus. The program is approved by both the PTCB and the Arizona Board of Pharmacy and to be considered for admission, students must meet personally with faculty.

Western Maricopa Education Center (Phoenix)

? 1617 W Williams Dr. Phoenix, AZ 85027| ☎ 623.738.0022

Western Maricopa Education Center - better known locally as West MEC - is a vocational school serving high school students in Maricopa County, AZ. They offer a wide range of educational programs including a one-year Pharmacy Technician Program.

To be admitted, students must be juniors or seniors in a Maricopa County high school maintaining a 3.0 or better GPA. Students are not charged to complete the course as it is an adjunct to their standard high school studies, but the cost of the state mandated testing - and of taking the PTCE exam - is something that students and their parents must cover alone. 

Here's a few of the classes you'll be taking:

  • Pharmacy law
  • Pharmacology
  • Preparing prescription medications
  • Inventory of drugs

The program is approved by both the PTCB and the Arizona Board of Pharmacy, but it should be noted that students must have graduated from high school and be over 18 before they take the PTCE, even if they complete this program prior to that.

Medstart Academy (Peoria)

? 13760 N 93rd Ave Suite 202 in Peoria, Arizona| ☎ (623) 773-9000

Medstart Academy is a private vocational school serving as a division of the National Healthcareer Association, the body that sets and administers the alternative certification exam to the PTCE, the ExCPT.

The program curriculum is specific to the ExCPT, but it also offers a comprehensive overview of all the skills needed to work as a pharmacy technician. The program is a hybrid one, with some assignments able to be completed online.

The cost of completing the certificate program is a fixed one. Tuition in 2020 is charged at $2,225 and there is an additional $300 in fees and supplies to be met as well. Financial aid in the traditional sense is not available but the school does offer an interest free payment plan to help spread out the cost.

To be admitted to the program students must be 18 years old, hold a high school diploma or GED and pass a basic entrance exam. In addition, they must prove their legal status, pass criminal background, and drug tests, and meet minimum vaccination requirements.

In addition to classroom learning - which can be completed via day or evening classes - students complete an externship with a local Walgreens pharmacy. They also receive extra prep and coaching just prior to taking the ExCPT exam at no additional cost.

The program is recognized by the Arizona Board of Pharmacy. 

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