San Jacinto College Pharmacy Technician Program.

When Irene Villatoro graduated from San Jacinto College’s pharmacy technician program, she never imagined what would happen 22 years later.

Now directing the North Campus program, she’d celebrate her daughter, Jacquelyn, completing the training too.

More than a family affair, though, the pharmacy technician program has prepared countless graduates for an essential health care field and may soon give pharmacy professionals more training options.

San Jacinto College Pharmacy Technician Program

Pharmacy tech student using Pyxis machine

Behind-the-scenes health care career

If you thought all patient care is hands-on, think again. Working under a pharmacist’s supervision, pharmacy technicians prepare and distribute medication with minimal patient interaction.

If you excel in math and science and are detail-oriented, you could pursue this essential health care role that combines both medicine and technology.

Available at the North and South Campuses, San Jac’s pharmacy technician program offers a one-year certificate of technology and two-year Associate of Applied Science degree. Both prepare you to take the national certification exam and include real-world experience through clinical rotations at retail, hospital, and specialty pharmacies.

“This program is a one-stop shop for all future pharmacy technicians,” said Sara Byars, South Campus program director. “We start with the basics, then build from there. You learn everything you need to know to perform any role in the pharmacy suited for technicians nationwide.”

Beyond traditional pharmacies, you’ll find pharmacy technicians in hospitals, nursing homes, home health, insurance settings, and government health agencies.

The pharmacy technician program is a great entry point to health care, becoming a lasting career you can build on or supporting you as you further your education in the pharmacy field or another area.

Continuing education resources

In 2023, San Jac became an Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education provider — one of only two Houston-area colleges to hold this accreditation. This allows the pharmacy technician program to offer continuing education credit for pharmacy technicians and pharmacists.

Currently, San Jac students can take an embedded sterile compounding course on campus rather than paying more than $900 from an outside entity. Eventually, pharmacy professionals can pursue the 40-hour continuing education credit at San Jac.

“In the future, we also aim to provide stackable certificates for alumni and employed technicians wishing to advance their level of practice,” Byars said.

Industry-standard training

San Jac trains future pharmacy technicians using industry-standard equipment like the Pyxis™ medication dispensing station. Students enter the patient’s information into a computer, and the machine checks the dosage, timing, and other important details before dispensing the correct amount.

Another useful training piece is the iPack® prescription unit dose packager, which individually wraps and labels pills for distribution at places like hospitals.

“With this equipment and training, our graduates can go into the field and immediately jump in and do the work,” Irene Villatoro said.

While doing her clinical rotation at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital, Jacquelyn Villatoro found the real-life work and equipment mirrored the hands-on simulations she’d done in the on-campus lab.

“Overall, the program has given me confidence, independence, and clarity regarding my future endeavors,” she said.

After taking her national certification exam this summer, she plans to apply for a hospital pharmacy technician position.

Family footsteps

Jacquelyn Villatoro cites her decision to pursue the pharmacy field to the power of storytelling. Her mother shared stories about the ins and outs of working as a young pharmacy technician in a hospital, and Jacquelyn could see herself there too.

This May, when Jacquelyn crossed the commencement stage on the NRG Stadium floor, she walked in both parents’ footsteps, as her father is also a San Jac alumnus.

“While my decision to attend San Jac wasn’t solely influenced by my mom, her positive experiences during her studies at the same age played a significant role,” she said. “San Jac’s reputation and both my parents’ success solidified my decision. I’m eager to follow in their footsteps and contribute to our community.”

Learn more about the pharmacy technician program.

By Courtney Morris