The PTCB recently announced big upcoming changes that will make getting nationally certified more challenging than it is today. By 2020, new candidates will be required to successfully complete a formal education program administered by an institution accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP).
What does this mean? Basically, by 2020 self studying for the national exam will no longer be an option. And, it could also mean the end of pharmacy tech online classes.The explanation given in the PTCB announcement clearly says that the programs will include "Lecture based course work and practical (hands on) experience, which will provide a well-rounded training program".
And so, it initially sounds like the ASHP accredited curriculum will mandate in-person lab work. Perhaps what this means is that Pharmacy Tech online classes would need to be at least hybrid, but not totally online. For some reasons this is great for the vocation, because it raises standards and work quality. But, the down side is that it will become more expensive.
The PTCB announcement does clearly say that those who already have their national certification will be grandfathered in. So, until 2020 - the online schools are the best option if you cant swing the cost of a formal in-person program.
Traditional "in-person" classes at tech schools currently accredited by ASHP can cost up to $17,000. Community college programs can typically cost a few thousand dollars, and are a good option if there's one nearby. But for many people, online pharmacy technician programs are the most convenient and only $500 - $900. Most will even accept monthly payments. Many of them even offer to arrange an externship to get you some hands on experience.
Of course, if we're just looking at cost, self study is clearly the most economical. But, it's just not effective or practical for a majority of people. When I decided to become a CPhT, I had no money for school whatsoever. I sat in the library for weeks studying from an older copy of Mosby's and looking up anything I could find online. Fortunately, I had a fantastic library close by (with a copy of Mosby's), was unemployed and had lots of free time, and am known for being pretty organized. I just happened to be in the group who could pull off self study, mostly because of my situation. I remember that at the time, there was only one pharmacy tech online school. It was relatively expensive, and didn't look very professional. There are many more now, and they're competitively priced. The best advice to give about whether to self study or enroll in an online program is simply to check your gut feeling. You'll know which is best for you.
Of course, I must add in a comment about self-discipline with online classes. Be honest with yourself about whether or not you'll have the time, energy and a quiet place to work on it for 10-20 hours a week.
Some pharmacy tech online schools:
Where would you like to go now?