Combining Formal Education and On-the-job Training

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Definition of Formal Education and On-the-job Training

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Aspiring pharmacy technicians have the option to pursue formal education or gain practical experience through on-the-job training. These two paths provide different avenues for individuals to enter the pharmacy technician career. In this article, we will define formal education and on-the-job training, outlining their key characteristics and benefits.

What is Formal Education?

Formal education refers to the structured academic programs offered by educational institutions such as community colleges, vocational schools, and universities. These programs provide comprehensive theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary for a career as a pharmacy technician.

Here are some key points to understand about formal education:

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  • Curriculum: Formal education programs follow a structured curriculum designed to cover essential subjects related to pharmacy practice. Students learn about pharmaceutical calculations, drug classification, pharmacology, pharmacy law and ethics, medication safety, and more.
  • Duration: The duration of formal education programs can vary. Certificate programs typically take around 6-12 months to complete, while associate degree programs may require 1-2 years of study.
  • Credentials: Upon successful completion of a formal education program, students may earn a certificate or an associate degree in pharmacy technology. These credentials can enhance job prospects and demonstrate a candidate’s commitment to professional development.
  • Practicum or Externship: Many formal education programs include a practicum or externship component, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in real-world pharmacy settings. This practical training helps students apply their knowledge and develop essential skills under the supervision of experienced professionals.

Formal education programs provide a solid foundation in pharmacy knowledge and skills, preparing individuals for entry-level positions as pharmacy technicians. Accredited programs ensure that students receive quality education and meet industry standards. It’s important to choose a program that is recognized by accrediting bodies such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

If you’re considering formal education, here are some reputable sources to explore:

What is On-the-Job Training?

On-the-job training (OJT) refers to learning while working in a pharmacy setting. It involves acquiring practical skills and knowledge under the supervision of experienced pharmacy professionals. OJT is a common entry point for individuals who prefer hands-on learning and have the opportunity to secure a position in a pharmacy without prior formal education.

Key aspects of on-the-job training include:

  • Employer-based Training: OJT is typically provided by employers who hire individuals with minimal or no prior pharmacy experience. Employers may have their own training programs or provide guidance and mentorship on the job.
  • Learning Opportunities: Pharmacy technicians learn various tasks and responsibilities through practical experience, such as medication dispensing, inventory management, prescription processing, and customer service.
  • Duration and Progression: The duration of on-the-job training can vary depending on the employer and the individual’s progress. Some employers may require trainees to complete a specific number of hours or demonstrate competence in certain areas before being considered fully trained.
  • Advancement Opportunities: While OJT can provide a foundation for entry-level positions, individuals who want to advance their careers as pharmacy technicians may need to pursue formal education or additional certifications to expand their knowledge and increase job prospects.

On-the-job training offers a practical learning experience that allows individuals to gain immediate employment in the pharmacy field. It can be an effective way to enter the profession and acquire the necessary skills while earning a salary.

For more information on on-the-job training opportunities, consider visiting:

Both formal education and on-the-job training are viable paths to becoming a pharmacy technician. The choice between the two depends on individual preferences, availability of educational resources, and career goals. Regardless of the chosen path, continuous learning and professional development are crucial for success in this dynamic healthcare field.

Benefits of Combining Formal Education and On-the-job Training for Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in the healthcare system by assisting pharmacists in dispensing medications, managing inventory, and providing excellent customer service. To excel in this profession, it is essential to acquire both formal education and on-the-job training. This combination offers several advantages, including enhanced knowledge, improved skills, and increased career advancement opportunities.

Enhanced Knowledge

Formal education programs for pharmacy technicians provide a comprehensive understanding of pharmaceutical principles, drug classifications, dosage calculations, and medical terminology. These programs typically include coursework in pharmacy law and ethics, pharmacology, pharmaceutical calculations, and pharmacy operations. By completing a formal education program, pharmacy technicians gain a solid foundation of theoretical knowledge that is essential for their daily tasks.

Additionally, formal education often includes hands-on laboratory experiences where students can apply their knowledge in a simulated pharmacy environment. This practical training helps pharmacy technicians develop critical thinking skills and gain confidence in performing various tasks such as medication compounding and sterile product preparation.

To further enhance their knowledge, pharmacy technicians can also pursue certification through organizations such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). These certifications require passing a standardized exam that assesses the technician’s knowledge and skills. Obtaining certification not only validates their expertise but also demonstrates their commitment to professional development.

Improved Skills

While formal education provides a solid foundation of knowledge, on-the-job training is equally important for pharmacy technicians to develop practical skills. Working under the guidance of experienced pharmacists and senior technicians allows them to apply their theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios.

During on-the-job training, pharmacy technicians learn various tasks such as prescription processing, medication dispensing, inventory management, and customer service. They become familiar with different types of medications, dosage forms, drug interactions, and proper storage procedures. This hands-on experience helps them become efficient and confident in their daily responsibilities.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Combining formal education and on-the-job training opens up numerous career advancement opportunities for pharmacy technicians. With an enhanced knowledge base and improved skills, they become eligible for higher-level positions within the pharmacy setting.

Some pharmacy technicians choose to specialize in specific areas such as compounding, sterile product preparation, or medication therapy management. Specialization requires additional training and certification, but it can lead to increased job responsibilities and higher salaries.

Moreover, pharmacy technicians who pursue further education, such as an associate degree in pharmacy technology or a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, may qualify for more advanced roles such as pharmacy supervisor or pharmacy manager. These positions often come with increased leadership responsibilities and higher pay scales.

Additionally, some pharmacy technicians choose to become educators or trainers themselves. They can teach in formal education programs or provide on-the-job training to new technicians. Sharing their knowledge and expertise not only contributes to the growth of the profession but also offers personal satisfaction.

In conclusion, combining formal education with on-the-job training provides pharmacy technicians with enhanced knowledge, improved skills, and increased career advancement opportunities. By investing in both aspects of learning, pharmacy technicians can excel in their roles and contribute effectively to the healthcare system.

For more information on the pharmacy technician career, you can visit the following authoritative websites:
– Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB): [insert URL] – National Healthcareer Association (NHA): [insert URL] – American Association of Pharmacy Technicians (AAPT): [insert URL] – American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP): [insert URL]

Challenges in Combining Formal Education and On-the-job Training as a Pharmacy Technician

Being a pharmacy technician requires a combination of formal education and on-the-job training. While this dual approach offers valuable knowledge and practical skills, it also presents some challenges that aspiring pharmacy technicians must overcome. In this article, we will explore the main obstacles faced when combining formal education and on-the-job training, including time management issues, financial constraints, and the difficulty of finding balance between these two types of training.

Time Management Issues

One of the significant challenges faced by pharmacy technician students is managing their time effectively. Balancing formal education and on-the-job training can be demanding, especially for those who are simultaneously working or have other personal commitments. Here are some tips to help overcome time management issues:

  • Create a schedule: Plan your study time and work hours in advance, ensuring you allocate enough time for both.
  • Prioritize tasks: Identify the most important tasks and focus on completing them first.
  • Avoid procrastination: Procrastination can lead to unnecessary stress. Stay disciplined and motivated to complete your responsibilities promptly.
  • Utilize resources: Take advantage of online tools and apps that can help you manage your time more efficiently.

By implementing effective time management strategies, you can make the most out of your formal education and on-the-job training as a pharmacy technician.

Financial Constraints

Another challenge faced by individuals pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician is the financial aspect. The cost of formal education, such as enrolling in a pharmacy technician program, combined with the potential loss of income during on-the-job training, can create financial strain. Here are some suggestions to overcome financial constraints:

  • Research financial aid options: Explore scholarships, grants, or loans that can help alleviate the burden of education expenses.
  • Consider part-time employment: Look for part-time job opportunities that can provide some income while you undergo on-the-job training.
  • Create a budget: Develop a financial plan to ensure your expenses are well-managed during your training period.
  • Seek employer assistance: Some pharmacies may offer financial support or reimbursement programs for pharmacy technician training. Inquire about such opportunities.

By being proactive and resourceful, you can find solutions to financial challenges and pursue your pharmacy technician career path effectively.

Difficulty Finding Balance Between the Two Types of Training

The pharmacy technician profession requires finding a balance between formal education and on-the-job training. This can be particularly challenging, as both types of training demand time, energy, and focus. Here are some strategies to help find balance:

  • Communicate with your employer: Maintain open communication with your employer to ensure they are aware of your educational commitments. They may be able to provide flexibility in scheduling your on-the-job training hours.
  • Plan ahead: Coordinate your formal education schedule with your on-the-job training hours to avoid conflicts and overlapping responsibilities.
  • Set realistic goals: Establish achievable goals for both your formal education and on-the-job training. This will help you stay motivated and maintain balance.
  • Take care of yourself: Prioritize self-care by getting enough rest, eating well, and engaging in activities that help reduce stress.

Finding balance between formal education and on-the-job training is crucial for success as a pharmacy technician. By implementing these strategies, you can navigate through the challenges and excel in both aspects of your training.

Combining formal education and on-the-job training as a pharmacy technician may present challenges, but with proper time management, financial planning, and a balanced approach, you can overcome these obstacles. Remember that perseverance and dedication are key to achieving your career goals. Good luck on your journey to becoming a successful pharmacy technician!

Combining Formal Education and On-the-Job Training: A Comprehensive Guide for Pharmacy Technicians


Aspiring pharmacy technicians often wonder how to best prepare for a rewarding career in the field. While formal education and on-the-job training are both valuable components, combining the two can provide a well-rounded foundation for success. In this article, we will explore three key strategies to combine formal education and on-the-job training for pharmacy technicians.

1. Seek Out Accredited Programs that Offer Both Types of Training

One effective way to combine formal education and on-the-job training is to enroll in accredited programs that provide a comprehensive curriculum. These programs typically include classroom instruction as well as opportunities for practical experience in a pharmacy setting. By choosing an accredited program, you ensure that the training meets industry standards and enhances your employability.

– Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) is a recognized authority that accredits pharmacy technician programs. Their website provides a list of accredited programs, which can help you find suitable options near you.
– Look for programs that offer internships or externships as part of their curriculum. These opportunities allow you to gain hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced professionals.

2. Take Advantage of Online Learning Options

In today’s digital age, online learning has become increasingly popular and accessible. Pharmacy technician students can benefit from online courses that offer flexibility and convenience while still providing comprehensive education.

– Websites such as Coursera, Khan Academy, and Udemy offer a wide range of online pharmacy technician courses, covering topics such as pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacology, and pharmacy law.
– Online learning allows you to study at your own pace, making it easier to balance your education with work or other commitments.

3. Utilize Apprenticeship Programs that Offer On-the-Job Training

Apprenticeship programs provide a unique opportunity to gain on-the-job training while simultaneously receiving classroom instruction. These programs combine practical experience in a pharmacy setting with structured learning.

– The United States Department of Labor’s website offers a comprehensive directory of registered apprenticeship programs across various industries, including pharmacy technician programs.
– By participating in an apprenticeship program, you can learn from experienced pharmacists and technicians, gaining valuable insights into the day-to-day responsibilities of a pharmacy technician.


Combining formal education and on-the-job training is an excellent strategy for aspiring pharmacy technicians. Seek out accredited programs that offer a comprehensive curriculum, take advantage of online learning options, and consider participating in apprenticeship programs to gain hands-on experience. By utilizing these strategies, you can enhance your knowledge, skills, and marketability in the pharmacy technician field.

Remember, the pharmacy technician profession is constantly evolving, so staying updated with the latest industry trends and advancements is crucial for success.