Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get more information about this program?
You may contact the Health Science Admissions office by calling (512) 223-5700 or (888) 626-1697, or via the Contact Us page.
Where can I get an application for the Pharmacy Technician program?
When is the deadline for applications?
The deadlines for applying to the Pharmacy Technician program are:
- Fall Admission: Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis but must be received by July 1 for consideration for the Fall semester.
- Spring Admission: Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis but must be received by November 1 for consideration for the Spring semester.
- Summer Admission: Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis but must be received by April 1 for consideration for the Summer semester.
When does the program start?
The program admits a new class each semester. Refer to the Austin Community College course schedule to determine the official start date for each semester. Students are welcome to get a jump start on the program by taking either of the two courses that are available prior to acceptance into the program. These courses are:
- HPRS 1206 Essentials of Medical Terminology
- HPRS 1171 Student Success for Health Professionals
Note: PHRA courses require department approval via completion of the online student petition.
How long is the program?
The certificate program can be completed in as little as two semesters. However, some students may wish to take as long as 3 or 4 semesters depending on their personal work/life schedules. Students in the AAS degree plan will earn their certificate after completing the ten courses that comprise the certificate program, and which is embedded within the AAS degree. Upon earning their certificate, students will be eligible to take the national certification exam and become a registered technician. This allows the student to work as a registered pharmacy technician while they complete their AAS degree. The AAS degree plan (which includes the certificate program) can be completed in five semesters.
How much does the program cost?
A detailed cost breakdown document is available here. Fees and tuition are subject to change. Please check the current college catalog for more details and up-to-date information.
Is the program accredited?
Yes. The Austin Community College Pharmacy Technician Program is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). In addition, our program is an ACPE Accredited provider of continuing pharmacy education for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). We are the only college-credit transferrable, dual accredited program (program level and college level), that is also an ACPE accredited provider of continuing pharmacy education, in Texas; and one of only a few such programs in the United States.
What is a Block Schedule?
Beginning in Fall 2016, we will being offering a Block Schedule option. This exciting opportunity offers students the convenience of knowing exactly when and where all of the classes in the program will be held. It also allows students to complete the Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program in just two semesters. Students selecting the Block Schedule option will take all of their classes at the Eastview campus, and can expect to be in class each morning from approximately 8 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday. This allows students the opportunity to have afternoons and weekends free so that they can maintain a full-time work schedule, and/or take care of family, social, or other life obligations.
Can any of the Pharmacy Technician courses be taken online or through distance learning (DIL)?
Yes. All of our courses, except the Practicum externship, are available as internet-based, distance learning or hybrid (combination DIL and live) course options. Check the Austin Community College course schedule for current and future course offerings. Be advised that certain courses also have a required laboratory component which will require the students’ attendance on campus during scheduled lab meetings. In addition, testing for all DIL courses is administered at ACC testing centers which can be found at any ACC campus.
Are any of the courses available on the weekend?
Yes. Our distance learning (DIL) courses that have a laboratory component hold lab sessions on Saturdays on various dates throughout the semester. Check the ACC course schedule for current and future weekend course offerings.
Are there any prerequisites?
No. At this time there are no prerequisites to enter the program; however, students are encouraged to take HPRS 1171, Student Success for Health Professionals and HPRS 1206, Essentials of Medical Terminology, as soon as possible to ensure a firm base of knowledge when entering the program.
Do I have to take Medical Terminology before I start the program?
No. You do not have to take Medical Terminology, before you start the Pharmacy Technician program. However, you may find it helpful to take HPRS 1206 Essentials of Medical Terminology well as HPRS 1171 Student Success for Health Professionals either prior to entering the program, or during your first semester in the program, in order to ensure a firm base level of knowledge which will be the foundation for all other courses in the program.
Can I take any courses before I submit my application?
Yes. There are two courses that you may take prior to submitting your program application. Students are welcome to get a jump start on the program by taking HPRS 1206 Essentials of Medical Terminology and HPRS 1171 Student Success for Health Professionals. Note that even if students elect to take one or more of these courses prior to being accepted into the Pharmacy Technician program, all students are encouraged to submit their program application as soon as possible, as students who have submitted their applications receive priority registration and have best choice of courses and sections.
I have “math phobia” and/or I am concerned about being able to do the math that is required in your program. Will I be able to get through your program?
First of all, don’t panic! Believe it or not, many students have this same fear or concern regarding math. It is generally based on a bad experience they had in the past, or due to the fact that it has been a long time since they took a math course, and/or performed mathematical calculations.
Our program will require the application of pharmacy math skills to real-life clinical situations; however, we will teach you the pharmacy math that you will use in those situations. The Pharmaceutical Mathematics course (PHRA 1309) will build upon foundational, basic math skills that most people develop some level of proficiency in during high school. This generally includes the following basic math skills: addition/subtraction/multiplication/division of fractions and decimals, percent, and ratio-and-proportion. Even if it has been awhile since you have performed these types of math skills, a brief refresher at the beginning of the semester is generally enough to help set the stage for most students to successfully learn all of the pharmaceutical math concepts taught in our program.
The best thing that you can do to help you overcome any math fears or concerns you may have is for you to do a bit of preparation ahead of time. The actions listed below will help you position yourself for success in Pharmaceutical Mathematics (PHRA 1309), as well as in all areas of our math-intensive program.
If you haven’t already done so, you are encouraged to (as soon as possible, and prior to taking PHRA 1309) do the following:
- Become TSI complete in Math (as well as in reading and writing).
- TSI completion means that you have achieved minimal levels of competency in Math, Reading, and Writing, as identified by a variety of markers established by the Texas Success Initiative (TSI).
- Learn more at ACC’s TSI Assessment page.
- You can easily determine your TSI status by meeting with an ACC advisor at any ACC campus.
- If the ACC advisor determines that you are not TSI complete in Math, consider checking out the MATH ACCelerator at the Highland Mall Campus. By taking MATD 0421 which will quickly and efficiently get you to TSI completion in Math at a pace that is just right for you. You can learn more about the Math ACCelerator on the MATD 0421 page.
Prior to your first day in the Pharmaceutical Mathematics class (PHRA 1309), get prepared by doing the following things:
- Get your textbook well in advance, be sure that you have the correct edition of the book (the bookstore at the Eastview campus is the place to get your books).
- Check out the online course materials that will be available on Blackboard prior to the first day of classes (usually on the Friday prior to the start of the semester, but this varies somewhat). Print your syllabus and course schedule, and any assignments that are due the first week of classes.
- Get organized prior to coming to the first class. Purchase notebooks, pencils, erasers, and a large-button, basic function calculator.
- Prepare a calendar for the entire semester listing all of your homework, assignments, quizzes, and exam due dates. You may choose to do this on an electronic calendar; however, most people seem to be better able to track everything on a printed, hard-copy calendar.
- Schedule in time to study and do your math homework at least four days per week. Successful students spend a minimum of 2 hours four days a week in order to complete their math homework and study for quizzes and exams.
Once classes start:
- Stay on top of due dates.
- Be prepared! Come to class with all of your homework finished, and well prepared by having read the preparatory information for the day’s lesson.
- If you don’t understand a particular problem, be sure to ask the instructor to demonstrate how to do that problem in class.
- Attend instructors’ office hours to get assistance.
- Organize and/or participate in study groups with fellow students.
- Make use of the Pharmacy Technician program tutor. Free of charge; may require appointment to be made in advance.
- Make use of the ACC learning lab tutors. Free of charge, no appointment necessary.
- Register for and attend the optional, free-of-charge, Dosage Calculation Workshops offered throughout the semester.
- Arrange to meet with your instructor for one-on-one assistance as needed.
- Maintain a positive attitude, keep breathing, and ask for help if you need it. Be sure to always put in your best effort, and take each day/each assignment/each problem one at a time, and you will most likely breeze right through it, and do even better than you ever imagined.
How many students are admitted into the program?
The number of students admitted each semester is dependent on the availability of clinical placements. This may change each semester. Typically, we admit around 28 students in the fall and spring semesters, and 14 students in the summer semester.
How are students selected to be in the program?
Students entering the program are selected by ranking that considers the students’ timely completion of the following:
- Uploaded immunization document per instructions on Student Resources webpage
- Completed the Pharmacy Technician Program Online Information Session and Verification Post Test; printed the Information Session Completion Forms, referred to as the “blue form” and the “yellow form”; uploaded completed forms as required per instructions on Health Sciences webpage
- Met with Pharmacy Technician Program Department Chair (by appointment; call (512) 223-5941 to schedule) and/or the ACC Health Science counselor at either the EVC or RRC campus prior to submitting program application
- Timely submission of the completed program Application for Admission to the Health Science admissions office
- Department Chair evaluation of program application and related documents (e.g. transcripts, certificates, etc.)
Should I take the Pharmacy Technician Level 2 Certificate program or the AAS degree program? Is there an advantage in one or the other?
Students are strongly encouraged to select the AAS Degree – Pharmacy Technician as their desired major on their program application. Doing this will improve the likelihood of getting potential financial aid and/or scholarships that are only available to students who have declared a major that leads to an AAS degree or higher; core curriculum courses (as well as some PHRA courses) in the degree plan are more likely to be transferable to a 4 year (or higher) degree at any college or university.
It makes sense for most students to pursue the Pharmacy Technician AAS degree since it will afford students the greatest number of potential benefits, and no likely drawbacks. ALL students – both certificate plan and AAS degree plan – will complete the same courses in the same order for the first two semesters of the program. After completion of the first two semesters of the program, ALL students – both certificate plan and AAS degree plan – will earn their program Level 2 certificate, be eligible to take the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, and then begin working (should they wish to do so) as a registered pharmacy technician. At the completion of the second semester, all students will meet with the department chair to determine whether they wish to continue on to earn the AAS degree (which is entirely optional, but which most certificate students elect to do as they clearly see the potential benefits of earning the degree), which you can do so at a pace that works for you and your schedule (ie. full-time student, part-time student, or just a single course here or there). Note: students should indicate their degree preference on the program application. All students should have an advisor select their major as General Studies in Pre-Health Science.
Should I take the Pharmacy Technician program for college credit or as a continuing education student?
The vast majority of students would be advised to take the courses in our programs as college-credit students. Not only will you earn recognized college credit toward your certificate and AAS degree, but many of the courses in our program (especially those in the AAS degree plan) are transferrable to a 4 year college or university to apply toward earning an advanced degree should every choose to do that in the future. In addition, college credit courses generally cost much less than continuing education courses.
I have previous college coursework, military experience, and/or healthcare-related employment experience, would any of this count toward my certificate or AAS degree in the pharmacy technician program?
Possibly. In order to determine this, your college transcript, along with your resume or CV will need to be evaluated by the Pharmacy Technician Program Department Chair. For more information, call (512) 223-5941.
Are there opportunities for financial aid or scholarships?
Probably. In order to determine if you qualify for financial aid, including grants, scholarships, Veteran’s Assistance programs, and federal student loans, you are encouraged to meet with a financial aid advisor at any ACC campus. Drop-ins are welcome, no appointment necessary. You can also learn more at the ACC financial aid webpage.
In addition, you may qualify for other programs that offer assistance with tuition, books, childcare, etc. Learn more about those opportunities by checking out ACC’s Capital Idea and Career Services webpages.
I hear that your program offers advanced pharmacy specialty certifications. What are these and how can they benefit me?
The advanced pharmacy specialty certificates are granted under our ACPE Accredited Providership to qualified individuals who have met all of the course requirements which generally include didactic education and clinical skills process validation.
Students who complete the first semester course PHRA 2271 — Basic Extemporaneous Compounding (non-sterile) will receive a specialty certificate in non-sterile compounding.
Students who complete the 2nd semester course, PHRA 1345 Compounding Sterile Preparations and Aseptic Technique, are eligible to earn a nationally recognized, ACPE-accredited specialty certification in Sterile Compounding and Aseptic Technique. This is commonly referred to as “IV Certification”. This specialty certification is required in order to work in a hospital or compounding pharmacy in the State of Texas.
Students who complete the following three, advanced pharmacy courses that are embedded in the Pharmacy Technician AAS degree plan will also qualify to earn specialty certifications in the following:
- Chemotherapy Compounding; PHRA 2372
- Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) Compounding; PHRA 2373
- Pediatric Preparations; PHRA 2374
I have heard that I need to complete continuing education in order to maintain my certification and registration. How is this accomplished?
At this time, pharmacy technicians are required to complete 20 hours of ACPE accredited continuing education every two years in order to maintain their PTCB certification. Texas State Board of Pharmacy requirements also mandate that both pharmacists and technicians complete a specified amount of ACPE accredited continuing education every two years. Refer to www.ptcb.org for specific requirements for PTCB recertification. Refer to www.pharmacy.texas.gov for specific requirements for pharmacist and pharmacy technician registration renewal.
ACC Pharmacy Technician Program graduates, as well as any other registered pharmacists or pharmacy students, and registered and/or certified pharmacy technicians or technician students are encouraged to stay up-to-date with current pharmacy practice standards by completing high-quality, relevant, continuing pharmacy education (CPE). When considering which CPE activities to pursue in order to meet your CE requirements, there are several factors that you must consider:
- Is the group that is issuing the CE credit for the activity an ACPE accredited provider of continuing pharmacy education for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians? This is important as only ACPE accredited activities are guaranteed to count toward your renewal and recertification requirements.
- Is the course or activity “technician-specific”? The CE activity must indicate if it is applicable to only pharmacists, only technicians, or both pharmacists and technicians. Technicians cannot claim CE credit for an activity that is identified as a “pharmacist-only” activity (and vice-versa).
- Is the cost of the activity reasonable given the number of hours and the type of activity? In general, practice-based activities for which you will earn a significant number (ie. 4 — 40 hours) of hours, credits or CEUs, and activities that include an experiential or hands-on component, are significantly more expensive than short (ie. 1 or 2 hours), self-study, knowledge-based CE activities.
- Is the topic something that interests you and/or something that will improve your ability to work safely and effectively within your scope of practice?
The ACC Pharmacy Technician Program offers a variety of affordable, practice-based, application-based, and knowledge-based ACPE accredited CE activities for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. We offer live (16 week semester with multiple live workshops), hybrid (requires one weekend in Austin and extensive online coursework), distance learning, and self-study CE activities on numerous topics of interest for pharmacists and technicians. Current CPE topics may include: IV certification, chemotherapy certification, pediatric and neonatal parenteral preparations, TPN compounding, non-sterile compounding certification, USP<797> Update, USP<800> Update, and Medication Safety.
For more information about our ACPE Accredited CPE program, please follow this link.
Once you are on our ACPE CPE webpage, scroll to the bottom of that page, and then click on the link to access the online Petition Form. Fill out the online petition form in its entirety, including as much detail as possible. Submitting the online petition is the fastest way to ask questions (including available course dates, location, and cost, as well as to register and/or pay for a course) about any of our ACPE Accredited Continuing Education Activities for Pharmacists and Technicians.
Due to the number of inquiries received by our CPE program, attempting to circumvent the petition by instead opting for direct email or phone call will delay the process. All initial inquiries and potential student registrations will be instructed to complete the online petition, as this is the process that captures students’ contact information, and which serves as a queue should the student wish to register for a course that is filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The average response time for an online petition submission is five (5) days. Please be patient, your petition will be responded to in the order in which it was received. Our program offers CE activities for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy students from around the United States. The ACC Pharmacy Technician Program is an ACPE Accredited Provider of continuing pharmacy education.
What is a “practicum”?
PHRA 2266 the Pharmacy Practicum is an unpaid internship where you will have an opportunity to apply all the knowledge and skills you have attained in our program by working in the “real world” in two pharmacy settings. The practicum is the capstone course of the certificate program (as well as the final course in the 2nd semester of the AAS degree plan; since the certificate is embedded within the AAS degree).
Prior to registering for the practicum course, you will meet with the department chair to select from a list of affiliated pharmacies throughout central Texas. You will select your preferred locations for two, different pharmacy practice settings that may include hospital, retail, or mail order pharmacy. The Pharmacy Department Chair will work with site-based preceptors to set up two, separate practicum rotations of 158 hours each (256 hours total) which will be completed over a 16 week period (in the fall or spring semesters; 11 weeks in the summer semester). An attempt will be made to place students in their preferred sites; however, due to the varying availability of placement sites, and the number of students needing placement, as well as the strengths and aptitudes of each student, no guarantee can be made with regard to site selection.
Can I do my practicum at my present pharmacy job?
No. The practicum is an unpaid, field-based internship where students gain valuable clinical experience in a live pharmacy setting. As a course requirement, students are not allowed to receive reimbursement for services rendered while in the practicum. Due to labor laws, this may present a conflict of interest if you wish to complete your practicum at a place of employment; therefore, students are not allowed to complete their practicum at their place of employment.
What do pharmacy technicians usually make?
Entry-level pharmacy technicians who complete our certificate program generally earn $14.00 to $16.00 per hour. Graduates of our AAS degree plan generally start out $2.00 or more higher than certificate-only students.
What are the job prospects in Austin and central Texas after graduating?
The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists the job prospects for Pharmacy Technicians for the time period through 2022 to be very good, with significantly higher anticipated job growth than the national average.
Do you offer job placement?
Many students receive one or more job offers from the employers where they complete their practicum internships. Faculty work closely with students to be sure that they have developed outstanding resume’ and interview skills, and we utilize a number of proven methods to connect students and graduates to local job opportunities. Area employers are known to seek out graduates from our program due to their reputation for comprehensive knowledge and excellent clinical skills.
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