Skagit Valley College

Pharmacy Technician

Job opportunities for Pharmacy Technicians are expected to grow 32 percent by 2016. If you want to be competitive in this growing field, you need the training and experience SVC's Pharmacy Technician program provides. Enroll today and get started on a rewarding career with solid job opportunities.

The Pharmacy Technician program prepares students for the role of support personnel in hospital, clinical, home health care agencies, mail-order and retail pharmacies.  Working under the direction of a licensed pharmacist, Pharmacy Technicians provide assistance to the pharmacist in a variety of tasks involving the packaging, distribution, compounding, labeling, and recording of drugs.  Students will receive training in drug products, calculations, dosages, dispensing techniques, inventory management, third-party billing, and Washington State pharmacy law. Special emphasis is on product knowledge and learning detailed information about a wide variety of drugs.  In a hospital or assisted living facility pharmacy technicians often work with patient charts, medications, medication inventories and orders.  In addition to lecture, students will have hands-on training in a lab environment and an opportunity to complete a practicum experience.  Clinical practice in hospitals and retail pharmacies provide actual experiences to prepare students for entry level positions in a variety of pharmacy settings.  A state license is required of all those who work in this field and is obtained after passing the National Certification Exam and applying to the Washington State Department of Health - Board of Pharmacy.

Pharmacy Technicians work in clean, organized, well-lighted, and well-ventilated areas. The nature of the job requires prolonged periods of standing or walking.  Heavy items may need to be lifted or retrieved.  Depending upon the location of employment, hours may include evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays.

The Pharmacy Technician must enjoy performing precise work, where details can be a matter of life or death. Pharmacy Technician duties require absolute accuracy and precision in both the technical and clerical aspects of the job.  For precision, many Pharmacy Technician duties require good manual dexterity.

Because Pharmacy Technicians work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, willingness to take direction is essential, while maintaining the ability to work competently without constant supervision after instruction has been given.  Good communication and interpersonal skills are also critical for a Pharmacy Technician, who must interact with other health care professionals on a daily basis.  The professional characteristics of dependability, ability to work within legal and ethical boundaries, and critical thinking skills are fundamental.

Program Options

The estimated program length is based on full-time enrollment.  It is the student's responsibility to discuss sequencing and work out their individual schedule with a counselor or program advisor.  Any developmental coursework a student may be required to complete may increase the program length.  The certificate program is not intended for university transfer.

You May Study

  • Medical Terminology
  • Applied Pharmacology
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Orientation to Pharmacy Practice
  • Pharmacology Basics
  • Pharmacy Records Management
  • Drug Dosage Calculations
  • Microsoft Office Basics
  • Community & Hospital Drug Dispensing

Program Accreditation

Skagit Valley College's Pharmacy Technician program is endorsed by the Washington State Department of Health - Board of Pharmacy. This program meets or exceeds the goals and objectives of the American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists and the approved Washington State Pharmacy Technicians Training competencies.

Certification/Licensure Options

Students must apply to the Washington State Department of Health - Board of Pharmacy to obtain licensure as a Pharmacy Assistant before entering the clinical work experience. Students are required to complete 240 hours of unpaid clinical experience in either a community pharmacy or hospital pharmacy setting.  After completion of the program, the student is eligible to apply for a Pharmacy Technician license issued by WA State Department of Health - Board of Pharmacy.  All Pharmacy Technician students are required to pass the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam.

Washington State Dept. of Health - Board of Pharmacy
310 Israel Road SE, Tumwater, WA  98501

For information about the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam:
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
7272 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
(866) 279-0681 (United States and Canada only) 

Program Learning Outcomes:

Graduates of the Pharmacy Technician program will

  • Possess the knowledge needed to analyze the Top 200 most prescribed drugs to include their brand and generic names, therapeutic class, use, dosage forms, dosing, pregnancy category, and patient information labeling.
  • Create patient profiles, prescription order entry, & fill prescriptions with acceptable speed and accuracy.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of IV preparation and aseptic techniques.
  • Use appropriate medical language to effectively communicate with members of the healthcare team.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking skills needed to prioritize, anticipate and analyze problems, and to evaluate and implement solutions.
  • Accurately apply mathematical principles required in the preparation and distribution of drugs.
  • Communicate respectfully and professionally with co-workers, health care professionals, customers, patients, and their families.
  • Use effective written and oral communication and listening skills in interactions with a diverse patient population.
  • Understand and practice the professional work habits expected in a Pharmacy setting, including confidentiality and ethical practices.
  • Practice within the professional and legal parameters for the role of a Pharmacy Technician.
  • Possess a commitment to diversity and enhanced employability through the understanding and practice of human relations, teamwork, and patient service skills.
  • Demonstrate the ability to research employment opportunities, prepare an effective employment package, including resume, and present oneself positively in a job interview.
  • Identify and access professional organizations and continuing educational resources.
  • Apply for a Pharmacy Technician License from the Washington State Board of Pharmacy.
  • Identify the required information to successfully complete the required National Certification Exam to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician.
  • Have knowledge of current Washington State Law as it applies to pharmacy.

Program Entry Requirements

Apply to Skagit Valley College at Students must be 18 years of age, a high school graduate or have passed the General Education Equivalency (GED) exam to enroll in the program. Students must enter the program at the beginning of Fall Quarter after prerequisites are met, and courses must be taken in sequence. It is strongly recommended that students schedule an appointment to meet with an Allied Health Department Chair before enrolling in classes.

To enter the Pharmacy Technician program, students need to provide proof of completion of the following prerequisite courses with 'C' grades (2.0) or better:

  • CSS 103 (College Succss Skills) (2 credits)
  • AHE 102 (Basic Medical Terminology) (5 credits);  or AHE 160 and AHE 161;
  • AHE 112 (Basic Pharmacology) (5 credits);
  • MATH 96 or higher; or any college level math; or placement score of MATH 97 or higher
  • OFTEC 162 (Microsoft Office Basics) (3 credits)

Students will be entered into the program Fall Quarter on a first come, first serve basis based on the date of their completed Pharmacy Technician Program Application and successful completion of the prerequisite courses.

Background Check and Drug Screening

All students must pass a multi-state, multi-zip code criminal back ground check as well as a drug/illegal substance screening. This requirement is based on medical industry standards and Washington State laws protecting vulnerable populations (RCW 43.43.880 and 43.43.842). Drug screens and background checks are required by clinical agencies where students complete their practicum experience. Students should be aware that certain gross misdemeanors and felonies may disqualify them from participating in practicums and unable to complete their certificate or degree program. Future employment opportunities in the health care field may also be affected. Students will complete the background check and drug screening process when enrolled in AHE 130. An additional drug screening is required immediately prior to practicum placement. Students who are unable to pass these screenings may be unable to complete the program.

Practicum Experiences

The Pharmacy Technician program includes a required 240 hour clinical/practicum experience.  Practicum's are at medical facilities, hospitals, clinics and other community-based pharmacy centers which may involve travel to various regions of Skagit, Whatcom, Snohomish, and Island counties. All students accepted into the practicum experience must have reliable transportation. All experiences will be under the supervision of personnel at the medical facilities. Students will not be allowed to choose their clinical site. The department chair selects the facilities used for practicum sites and places qualified students. Each student is evaluated for Practicum readiness according to the Allied Health Handbook guidelines (Student Evaluation section). View AHE Practicum Requirements.

Career Opportunities and Job Search Information

The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) is the nation's primary source of occupational information.  The O*Net Online database is an interactive research tool for exploring and searching occupations.  The database, developed by the US Department of Labor, contains information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors, and provides a variety of FREE Career Exploration Tools.

O-Net Online: 
Soc 29-2052.00 - Pharmacy Technicians

For more detailed information about Washington State healthcare employment trends, wage rates, employment opportunities, job tasks, etc. search the websites listed below:

Placement Rate

Placement and Completion Data

Pharmacy Technician/Assistant On-Time Completion 14

Contact Us

Justin Henderson
Department Co-Chair
Email Justin

Tami Mattox
Department Co-Chair
Email Tami

Information Sessions

Information sessions are scheduled by the AHE Department Chairperson and program faculty. For a current schedule of dates/times, please contact one of the persons listed above.