Pharmacy Technician Programs in San Diego, CA

The demand for pharmacy services - both in retail and clinical settings - only continues to increase in California, as does, naturally, the demand for qualified pharmacy technicians to man them. This is as true in San Diego as anywhere else.

As a profession, a pharmacy technician is both well paid and challenged by what they do. For many who choose this career path it serves as a way to work in the medical field in an important role without the need to commit to years of expensive schooling.

Unlike some states, California does require that a pharmacy technician completes an approved pharmacy technician training course before they can be issued the required license to work. National certification - from the PTCB or the NHA - is not mandated but it is preferred by most employers, especially in clinical and mail order settings, a field that is growing rapidly, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

But which pharmacy technician program - and pharmacy technician training school - should San Diego residents opt to attend?

That's what we are going to take a closer look at here. 

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Rx Technician Statistics in San Diego vs. California

Female pharmacy technician working in a retail pharmacy

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019 there were 36,560 individuals registered with and licensed by the State of California as pharmacy techs. Of these people, 2,840 identified as San Diego residents.

In terms of pay, the average hourly wage for a pharmacy technician in San Diego in 2019 was $20.38. Starting salaries for those just entering the field fell as low as $12.39, but for those in the highest paid 90th percentile that rose to 29.71.

Most employers willing to pay higher wages to pharmacy techs prefer that they have completed both an approved pharmacy technician training program and that they have earned their CPhT designation as a certified pharmacy technician via either the PTCE exam or the newer ExCPT. 

Pharmacy Technician Schools in San Diego, CA

Both credentialing boards - The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and The National Health Career Association - make a strong recommendation that candidates for their exams - the PTCE and the ExCPT respectively - complete an approved pharmacy technician training course before attempting to take them.

Here's a look at the pharmacy tech schools in San Diego to choose from.

7851 Mission Center Court, Suite 326 San Diego, CA 92108 | Tel: 858 357-8800

California Medical College is a vocational school for adults located in the heart of San Diego. It's Pharmacy Technician Program is especially suitable for working adults as it is offered only in the evenings, allowing students to work in the day and attend school at night.

The total cost of completing the Pharmacy Technician Program at California College in 2019 was $2,750 . This figure includes required books, supplies and lab fees but does not include the fee to sit a certification exam after graduation, something that will add about $150 to this total. 

Traditional Federal or State Financial Aid is not available for this program, but the school does offer financing - including a 'bad credit' loan - to help students spread out the cost of attendance. In order to receive a diploma however the course must be paid off in full, either via loans or cash payments. 

The only admissions requirements set by the college to enter the Pharmacy Technician Program is that a student is over the age of 17 and holds a high school diploma or GED. However, the school does caution that in order to take the PTCB or ExCPT exams, or to become licensed in the State of California students must be able to pass both drug and criminal background tests. 

The Pharmacy Technician Program offered by California Medical College is a 96-hour program that is offered in the evenings between 6pm and 10pm three nights a week. Most students, when they attend all classes as scheduled, can graduate in as little as 4 months. 

The course itself covers all the basics needed to pass a pharmacy technician certification exam and to take on an entry level position within a pharmacy setting. Their education is State specific, so that they are up to date on all State regulations versus national rules and there is an additional module that covers the use of over the counter and alternative medications. 

The Pharmacy Technician Program offered at California Medical College is a PTCB approved program and is recognized by the NHA

780 Bay Boulevard Chula Vista, CA 91910 | Tel: 800-477-PIMA

PIMA Medical Institute offers a network of private technical schools across the country, including one in San Diego. A pharmacy technician certification program is one of several vocational courses on offer at the school, which is geared primarily towards working adults.

According to the PIMA Medical Institute website the total cost - including the fee to sit the PTCE certification program - of the Pharmacy Technician Program was $14,106 in 2019. This is inclusive of books and lab fees as well. 

Federal and State Financial aid is available to those who qualify, as well as a limited number of state retraining grants. If students do not qualify for traditional financial aid, they may be able to make use of a private student loan via a lender like Sallie Mae.

There are a number of criteria students must meet in order to be accepted into the pharmacy tech certification program including all the following:

  • Must be aged 18 or over
  • Must hold a high school diploma or GED
  • Must pass a school set skills test that covers English, Math and computer literacy.
  • Must be able to prove legal US residency
  • Must pass both a drug test and a criminal background check. 

The program is a very comprehensive one and it takes about nine months to complete. Classes are available both in the say and the evening and taking evening classes does add a few weeks to the total time to graduation. 

In addition to covering all the basics a student needs to pass the PTCE exam in the classroom there is also a practical, hands on element to the course. Students undertake a school arranged 250-hour externship with a local employer and also cover IV therapy, a skill in demand at many hospitals, and will be ready and able to obtain certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, an extra bonus employers are likely to appreciate. 

The PIMA Medical College Pharmacy Technician Program is fully accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board also accepts it as a recognized program.

1161 E Main St #205, El Cajon, CA 92021 | Tel: 619-241-9931

Western Medical Training Center was established to offer San Diego adult residents the chance to obtain a quick to complete, affordable education to make a career change to enter the medical field.

Its Pharmacy Technician Certification program covers all the basics needed to pass either of the national pharmacy technician certification exams and the classes are offered on a day and evening basis to better accommodate working adults' schedules.

To attend the on campus, accredited Pharmacy Technician Certification Program offered at Western Medical Training Center the cost in 2019 was $1,200. This does not include the cost of books and supplies however, which adds several hundred dollars to the final cost. 

Students may also opt to complete the bulk of their classroom education online for a similar cost. 

Traditional financial aid is not available to cover the costs of these programs, but a no credit check financing program is. Students must pay the initial deposit of $100 on enrollment with the balance due before graduation. 

To be admitted to either program students must be over the age of 18 and have a high school diploma or GED. The school warns that in order to take any certification tests students must pass drug and criminal background tests, but they do not require them as a condition of admission. 

Both the online course and the classroom-based course cover the basics needed to pass the PTCB certification test for pharmacy technicians. The classroom course, which is offered in late afternoons and evenings, takes approximately 26 weeks to complete. The online course is self-paced and students can take up to 12 months to complete it for a single fee. 

In addition to their theory and classroom work all students must complete a 120-hour externship. These are with CVS or Walgreens pharmacies and are arranged by the school who have an agreement in place with these companies. 

Both the classroom and the online based Pharmacy Technician Certification programs offered by Western Medical Training Center are PTCB approved

1475 6th Ave, 4th Floor San Diego, CA 92101 | Tel: (619) 814-9068

Located in the heart of downtown San Diego the San Diego Community Training Center offers adult students the chance to complete affordable vocational education programs and the Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program is one of its most popular offerings.

In 2019 the cost of completing the pharmacy technician certificate program at the school was approximately $2,500. This does not include the cost of supplies or of completing a DOJ and FBI Live Scan for drugs and criminal history prior to graduation. Traditional Federal or State student financial aid is not available, but a financing program is in place and participation is not subject to a credit check.

To be admitted to the program students must be over 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or GED. they must also sign an acknowledgment of their understanding of the fact that a positive drug test, a felony or certain misdemeanor charges in the past will bar them from taking the PTCB or ExCPT certification test and from registration with the State of California.

The classroom portion of the course runs for 20 weeks and students can opt for afternoon or evening class schedules. The material taught covers all the basics needed to pass the PTCE or the ExCPT certification exams. In addition, prior to graduation students must complete a school arranged externship with a local retail pharmacy that lasts for 120 hours.

The school and its pharmacy technology program is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and is an approved training program in the eyes of the PTCB. 

9368 Oakbourne Rd, Santee, CA 92071 | Tel: (619) 956-4300

Health Occupations Center (HOC) is located in Santee, CA and is a part of the Grossmont Union High School District. It offers a number of healthcare related vocational courses to high school seniors and adults including a Pharmacy Technician Certification Program. As a day only course it may be harder for working adults to attend, but as classes are held only a few days a week the school can accommodate some work schedules.

The total cost of the course, inclusive of all books, supplies and school testing fees is $1290. If a student does not have a BLS certification they must obtain one at an additional cost of $50. Students are also responsible or the cost of FBI Livescan background testing and drug screens, which adds an additional $150-$200 to the total cost.

Traditional Federal or State financial aid is not available to cover the program, but the school offers a payment plan that breaks the cost into more manageable installment payments is needed. All costs must be paid before graduation.

To be admitted to the program students must be 17 years or older and hold a high school diploma or GED by graduation from the program. In addition, they must be able to meet vaccination requirements, pass a school administered basic skills test and provide an FBI Livescan free of positive drug test results or felonies and certain misdemeanors.

The content covered in the classroom portion of the program encompasses the basic knowledge needed to pass the PTCE or ExCpt certification exams. In addition, a number of hours of hands on experience is provided via training sessions at local retail and hospital pharmacies as arranged by the school.

The program can be completed in three months and the school does offer an end of course prep session for those about to take the PTCE exam.

The Health Occupations Center Pharmacy Technician Certification Program is approved as a training course by the PTCB. 

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