Skip Navigation

College News

New pharmacy technician program trains for the industry’s future

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Dec 09, 2020

Launching fall 2021, the pharmacy technician certificate program at College of Lake County (CLC) will prepare students to face the challenges of a quickly evolving career field while also helping employers fill a growing demand for the position. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the field will grow by four percent over the next decade. However, CLC’s pharmacy technician program director Dr. Derek Leiter, who has been in the pharmacy field for 15 years, believes it will be much higher.

“Pharmacy has always been a part of the treatment through medications, and then about a decade ago we became part of the prevention which is immunizations,” said Dr. Leiter. “COVID is pushing regulators to change their view of pharmacy and they are going to be part of the diagnosis with all of these swab tests. The economics of pharmacy do not support the pharmacist being the main lever that will be pulled to land those. It will be the pharmacy technician.” 

CLC's Southlake CampusAs the role evolves, the training required is also changing. While passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) has always been a requirement, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), which administers the exam and grants the credential, has begun requiring candidates to first complete a PTCB recognized education or training program. CLC accomplishes this through an 11-month, for-credit program at the college’s Southlake Campus (pictured).

“The Board of Trustees applauded and praised our efforts for continuing to produce high-level, high-demand programs such as this one,” said CLC Vice President of Education and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sonya Williams. “Educational affairs is looking forward to developing more short-term certificates like this one with high-value impact for our students and the communities we serve.”

The program will develop students in five core modalities: interpersonal skills, foundational professional knowledge, processing and handling of medications and orders, quality patient care and regulatory compliance. After passing the PTCE, students will then enter a career which, according to BLS 2019 statistics, has a median pay of $33,950 per year, or $16.32 per hour. The launching of this certificate program is the culmination of more than two years of effort, including numerous meetings with stakeholders in the Lake County community to truly understand what the future pharmacy technician will need to know and how they may continue to grow.

“The pharmacy technician certificate program was developed with input from the professional development area of the college that has been offering a non-credit pharmacy technician program for years, as well as input from the College of Pharmacy at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science,” said CLC Dean of Biological and Health Sciences Division Jeet Saini. “The idea is to create an intentional career pathway for students, allowing them to earn a short-term credential and secure gainful employment with the option of pursuing their long-term educational goals close to home.”

The partnership with Rosalind Franklin University goes beyond simply getting input. When Dr. Leiter was going through his college pharmacy program, he had the chance to work with doctoral students. This led to a shared understanding and culture of collaboration between these future pharmacists and doctors. He hopes to give CLC students a similar experience.

“We are strategically partnering with them so our pharmacy students will be able to work with the pharmacy candidates they’re developing,” said Dr. Leiter. “I’m really interested in providing that bridge so we can ensure the pharmacists and pharmacy technicians of the future really embrace how to work together in a supportive manner.”

About College of Lake County:

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.