Best Online Pharmacy Technician Programs

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Pharmacy technicians are the medical professionals responsible for apportioning and dispensing prescribed medication. Pharmacy technicians primarily distribute medication to private customers, although they may also work with healthcare professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly two-thirds of pharmacy technicians work in hospitals, pharmacies or drugstores. The BLS also notes that pharmacy technicians outnumber pharmacists in the United States by more than 75,000 individual employees.

Educational and professional regulations for pharmacy technicians vary by state of employment. Specific requirements typically include a high school diploma, completion of a comprehensive exam and a background check, as well as continuing education courses administered on an annual or semi-annual basis. Certification may also be required, as well; currently, certification for pharmacy technicians is available through two organizations: the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the National Healthcareer Association. Many of today’s aspiring pharmacy technicians begin their career with an accredited online associate degree. The best online pharmacy technician associate programs prepare students for all of the demands and responsibilities of this rewarding profession, including post-degree certification and other state requirements. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of most online associate degree programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other commitments that may interfere with campus-based learning.

Learn more about what you can do with an online associate degree in pharmacy technician and assistant program and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

WILL AN ONLINE PHARMACY TECHNICIAN ASSOCIATE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Online associate in pharmacy technician programs will introduce the fundamental elements of this highly skilled profession. Coursework will cover subjects like medical terminology, pharmaceutical math and measurements, anatomy and physiology, pathology and pharmacology, as well as core STEM subjects like biology, chemistry and algebra. Many programs require offsite internships or externships, where students receive supervised training from experienced pharmacy professionals.

WILL AN ONLINE PHARMACY TECHNICIAN ASSOCIATE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online pharmacy technician associate programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional education. Students are able to access course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with fellow students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their home computer. Current e-learning technology also allows them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable devices with Wi-Fi capabilities. For added convenience, online students can usually coordinate externship or internship courses at hospitals, pharmacies and other sites within a reasonable distance of their current residence.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY PHARMACY TECHNICIAN ASSOCIATE DEGREE?

The BLS notes that most pharmacy technician roles require a ‘high school diploma or equivalent‘; as a result, students who leave school with a pharmacy technician associate degree will be well-positioned for the competitive job market. Pharmacy technicians may also enter the workforce as pharmacy aides, who typically handle record-keeping and inventory needs at pharmacies and drugstores. Other job titles in the pharmaceutical industry require additional education; these roles include medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, pharmacists and pharmaceutical sales representatives.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE PHARMACY TECHNICIAN ASSOCIATE PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online pharmacy technician and assistant associate degree programs in the United States. If you are considering an online pharmacy technician and assistant associate program, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific associate degree requirements and offerings.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 North Dakota State College of Science 64.72 2/5 47% Wahpeton, ND

Founded in 1903, North Dakota State is one of the oldest public two-year colleges in the united states with campuses in Fargo and Wahpeton. The online pharmacy technician program at NDSCS offers students the opportunity to earn an associate degree and prepare for a career as a pharmaceutical technician. Nearly 100% of NDSCS students graduate with employment or move on to a four-year university. The online associate of applied sciences for pharmacy technician is career focused and includes video-chat labs, online coursework, and the option for hybrid learning on campus. With classes in ethics, law, calculations, and management, the NDSCS curriculum prepares students for every aspect of pharmacy work. The program is 65 credit hours and some classes require a grade of "C" or higher to pass. NDSCS' pharmacy training online is accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists and has the options for student internships.

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2 Allen County Community College 63.33 2/5 49% Iola, KS

The online pharmacy technician school at Allen has two goals: to prepare students for a career in real world pharmacies, and give them the academic foundation for earning a bachelor's degree or master's degree in the field. After earning their pharmacy technician AAS students will be ready for the pharmacy technician certification exam through the National Pharmacy Technician Association or American Association of Pharmacy Technicians. Courses include: Inventory Management, Medical Office Accounting, Basic Nutrition, and Drug Awareness. Distance learners will gain experience with computer software that is commonly found in pharmacy settings. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the Allen program is 60 credits and split into four course-curated semesters. Full-time students can complete the program in about two-years. Allen has residential campuses in Iola and Burlingame. Online students have access to many of the same academic resources as their on-campus peers including access to the writing center and library.

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3 Minnesota State Community and Technical College 62.78 2/5 48% Fergus Falls, MN

Minnesota State's online pharmacy technician program is a valuable and flexible education opportunity. Online students can earn their lab-requirement credits easily at Minnesota State's high-tech pharmacy labs at the Wadena, Minnesota campus. At Minnesota State, the curriculum includes pharmaceutical sciences, communication skills, business practices, and ethics. Students can earn a 60-credit Associate in Applied Science degree directly or a 36-credit diploma that can be applied towards an AAS. Online courses are taught by pharmacy technology experts and teach skills that pharmacies are looking for in new employees. Through required coursework students will learn to measure, mix, count, and label medications. Minnesota State's online education is easily transferable to other schools. Online tutoring and library access is available to distance learners. The AAS program is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and eligible for the Minnesota Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program, which helps with tuition and fee costs.

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4 Ultimate Medical Academy-Tampa 59.17 4/5 49% Tampa, FL

Ultimate Medical Academy is a nonprofit institution committed to career-oriented medical education. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, the school also has a Clearwater campus and plenty of online offerings,including the online pharmacy technician program. UMA's associate degree program is designed for optimal employability of graduates, from the pharmacy technician certification prep to the AAS degree. The school wants its students to stand out in a growing job field. This online program can be completed in 17 months and includes a mix of practical and theoretical coursework. The program is 37 credit hours and includes courses in anatomy, diseases, and math. UMA students have an opportunity for externships to gain on-the-job experience. The school offers online students Ultimate Student Services for financial aid, technical support, online educational resources and one-on-one tutoring. Ultimate Medical Academy students have access to extensive career services.

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5 North Central Missouri College 58.33 2/5 42% Trenton, MO

The pharmacy technician program online offered by North Central is grounded in practical experience. Students in the 60-credit associate of applied science at NCMC learn all the skills needed for one of the fastest growing healthcare careers. The two-year NCMC program includes pharmacy and general education classes. Classes like Calculations and Physiology teach students basic pharmacy tech skills. General education classes like Speech help with the customer service aspect of the job. NCMC students have the opportunity for internships. Some classes require students to complete a lab component, this must be done on campus. Online students have many of the same student resources as residential students at the Trenton, Missouri campus including: online tutoring, career services, and library resources. distance learners have plenty of tools for success in the 5-term pharmacy technician program. Online courses keep the same individualized focus and small-classroom focus that NCMC has had since it was founded in 1925. Classes online are offered through Blackboard.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Hutchinson Community College 67.50 2/5 59% Hutchinson, KS

Hutchinson Community College's online pharmacy technician program is affordable, flexible, and efficient. The 33-credit online certificate program can be completed in three semesters. HCC offers pharmacy technician classes online to fit students' busy schedules, and the program combines distance courses with hands-on practical experience. Although HCC credits may be transferable, the program is designed for students looking for employment as a pharmacy technician. From preparing medication and assisting pharmacists to helping patients and reviewing medical records, pharmacy techs have complicated jobs, and HCC's curriculum trains students for this specialized field. All HCC graduates can sit for the national certification exam.

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2 University of Alaska Anchorage 67.08 2/5 26% Anchorage, AK

UAA is the largest institution of higher education in the Alaska system. While UAA is now a large public research institution, the school maintains the career-focused mission it had at its founding as Anchorage Community College in 1954. UAA offers a pharmacy technician certification online program through its School of Allied Health. Students take six pharmacy courses through UAA's Blackboard online education portal to complete the 16-credit program. UAA's online pharmacy tech certificate program curriculum combines the business, customer service, and professional aspects of pharmacies with courses in communication, medical calculation, and medication ordering. UAA students will receive their occupational endorsement certification once they complete the requirements, regardless of their performance on the exam. Students can start the program at any age. Online students have full access to academic advising and other students services. Hybrid courses are also available.

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3 Barton County Community College 64.17 1/5 57% Great Bend, KS

Barton Community College is committed to community-oriented and student-focused education. The school offers an online pharmacy technician certificate that prepares students to become effective pharmacy assistants through online lectures and classes. As part of the 29-credit program, students must complete an in-person internship; that requirement can be fulfilled at any approved pharmacy. Students will learn through the BARTonline portal, which features a variety of resources for students, including additional support for military members. Pharmacy tech classes can be completed in two semesters; classes cover the retail, administrative, and pharmaceutical aspects of a pharmacy technician's job. BCCC's curriculum prepares students for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians national exams.

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4 Sinclair Community College 57.50 1/5 45% Dayton, OH

The advanced pharmacy technician certificate program at Sinclair College helps students develop practical experience in the field. The school's mandatory 105-hour internship requirement stipulates that students must work at a pharmacy to learn every aspect of the job that they will be doing when they graduate. The online pharmacy technician certificate at Sinclair includes several pharmacy courses that cover everything from healthcare laws to the fundamentals of the pharmacy business. In addition to preparing students to excel on certification exams, the Sinclair pharmacy tech program also prepares students for work in retail, hospital, or elder care pharmacies. Sinclair offers special services to veterans and military personnel. All students have access to tutoring services, the writing center, mathematics labs, and other students services. Sinclair's certificate program is 30 credits long and takes just one year to complete.

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5 Kirtland Community College 50.83 2/5 45% Roscommon, MI

Rural Michigan's Kirtland Community College offers pharmacy technician classes online. The Roscommon County school has a number of online degree and certificate programs, including pharmacy technology. KCC's education is twofold: students are taught the fundamentals of effective pharmaceutical science and then the practical skills needed to work in a pharmacy. Students acquire practical skills through the school's 144-hour internship program. KCC's pharmacy technician curriculum covers medical science, mathematics, communication, and computer science, ensuring that distance learners are prepared to use the latest technology and to work effectively with others. Students take classes for two semesters during the fall and winter, and can graduate in less than one year. There is no application fee for KCC's pharmacy tech program.

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Timeline
18 months to 2 years
Program Costs
$6,000 to $20,000 in annual tuition
Related Areas of Study
Pharmacology, Healthcare Administration, Medical Technology, Nursing, Pathology
Accreditation
Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE)

Job Placement

The ten-year outlook for employees in the healthcare sector — including pharmacy technicians — is quite strong. These favorable projections are largely due to the growing number of patients receiving medical care; more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans now receive health and medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and an aging baby boomer population has also fueled the demand. According to the most recent data from U.S. News & World Report, pharmacy technicians face an unemployment rate of 4.1%; by comparison, the national unemployment rate for all occupations is currently set at 4.9%.

The following table compares unemployment rates for pharmacy technicians and other supportive personnel working in the healthcare industry.

Occupation Unemployment Rate (2016)
Pharmacy Technician 4.1%
Occupational Therapy Assistant 1.2%
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer 1.9%
MRI Technologist 3.1%
Clinical Laboratory Technician 3.4%
Surgical Technologist 3.8%
Medical Secretary 3.9%
Medical Assistant 4.0%
Physical Therapist Assistant 5.8%
Home Health Aide 6.6%

Source: U.S. News & World Report

As the table indicates, the unemployment rate for pharmacy technicians is on par with other assistive healthcare roles. The BLS also predicts above-average growth for pharmacy technician jobs: a 9% increase between 2014 and 2024, resulting in roughly 34,700 new positions.

Earning a Living

The BLS notes that pharmacy technicians in the U.S. currently earn a median annual salary of $30,410, which amounts to a wage of $14.62 per hour. However, earning potential for pharmacy technicians will largely depend on their place of employment. Using U.S. News data, the table below compares average earnings for pharmacy technicians at five different workplaces.

Place of Employment for Pharmacy Technicians Average Annual Salary
Management, scientific and technical consulting services $36,600
Colleges, universities and professional schools $36,960
Offices of physicians $37,040
Outpatient Care Centers $39,000
Federal Executive Branch $41,000

Source: U.S. News & World Report

The annual salary for a pharmacy technician will also depend on his or her level of professional experience, as well as other factors like certification, employer size and city/state of employment. The next table looks at salary growth projections for five of the most common career pathways for pharmacy technician degree-holders.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Pharmacy Technician $29,380 $34,603 $37,031 $40,886
Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) $34,443 $41,055 $43,456 $48,274
Hospital Pharmacy Technician $30,263 $38,639 $38,863 $50,050
Compounding Pharmacy Technician $36,121 $40,915 $42,396 $41,297
Pharmacy Assistant $25,000 $31,000 $31,000 $37,000

Source: PayScale

Of the five occupations listed, hospital pharmacy technicians experience the highest rate of career salary growth: a 65.4% increase between the entry-level and late-career marks. Pharmacy assistants placed second, with 48% salary growth after 20 years in the workforce.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

Students who graduate from a pharmacy technician associate degree program will be qualified for dozens of entry-level roles, although individual eligibility may depend on certification and other possible state-specific requirements. Four common careers for pharmacy technician degree recipients are outlined below.

Pharmacy Technicians: Pharmacy technicians distribute prescription medication at pharmacies, drugstores and hospitals. Their job requires extensive knowledge in pharmacology and familiarity with hundreds of different medication types. The pharmaceutical industry is heavily regulated in the U.S., so pharmacy technicians must also have a firm understanding of all laws and ethical standards guiding their profession.

Pharmacy Aides: Pharmacy aides support pharmacists and pharmacy technicians by maintaining patient records, keeping an up-to-date inventory and stocking supplies as needed. Other duties include assisting customers with cash transactions and receiving prescriptions to be filled, although by law they are not allowed to personally fill any prescriptions.

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians: These professionals perform a wide range of tests on fluid and tissue samples of patients at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. Medical/clinical laboratory technologists and technicians typically have a strong background in microbiology, chemistry and math. Certification and/or licensure for these personnel are required in some states.

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives: Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives play a key role in the pharmaceutical industry: the distribution of medications and medical supplies to businesses, organizations and/or government agencies. Those who work with pharmaceutical supplies must earn at least a bachelor’s degree. These professionals generally have a strong background in pharmacology and pharmaceutical studies, as well as statistics, economics and marketing.

Occupation Median Annual Salary
Pharmacy Technicians $30,410
Pharmacy Aides $27,460
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians $50,550
Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives $59,080

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to the pharmacy profession is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for professional pharmacy technicians. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • American Association of Pharmacy Technicians: Founded in 1979, the AAPT provides leadership, advocacy and professional development opportunities for professional pharmacy technicians. The association’s website features a virtual career center, an online store and information about the AAPT’s annual U.S. conference.
  • National Pharmacy Technician Association: Established in 1999, the NPTA today offers certification in three core areas: sterile products; chemotherapy; and compounding. Member benefits include complimentary magazine and newsletter subscriptions, invitations to industry events, discounts on continuing education courses and access to an extensive professional network.
  • American Pharmacists Association: The APA’s website features a section dedicated to pharmacy technicians and assistants. Available resources include a printable ‘pocket drug guide’, electronic skill-building manual and other academic resources, as well as information about certification and professional development programs.
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Best Online Associate in Pharmacy Technician Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Sinclair Community College Dayton, OH
2 North Central Missouri College Trenton, MO
3 Hutchinson Community College Hutchinson, KS
4 University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage, AK
5 Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls, MN
6 Allen County Community College Iola, KS
7 Kirtland Community College Roscommon, MI
8 Vincennes University Vincennes, IN
9 Great Falls College Montana State University Great Falls, MT
10 Barton County Community College Great Bend, KS