Pharmacy technician training programs provide the skills needed to access rewarding careers in healthcare that do not require a four-year college degree. This guide reviews the best online pharmacy technician training programs, providing information on common admission requirements, coursework, and program types.
Earning a pharmacy technician associate degree or pharmacy technician certificate can qualify you for a job as a pharmacy technician. Pharmacy technicians earn a median annual salary of $32,700 in the U.S. In some states and metropolitan areas, pharmacy techs can earn $40,000 or more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for pharmacy technicians is projected to increase by 7% from 2018 to 2018 — faster than the rate of growth for the average occupation.
What Are the Best Online Pharmacy Technician Training Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 5:
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|1||University of Alaska - Anchorage||Anchorage, AK|
|2||State Fair Community College||Sedalia, MO|
|3||North Dakota State College of Science||Wahpeton, ND|
|4||Minnesota West Community and Technical College||Granite Falls, MN|
|5||Allen County Community College||Iola, KS|
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Best Online Pharmacy Technician Training Programs of 2021
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University of Alaska - Anchorage
|Anchorage, AK||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Located in Anchorage, UAA offers an online occupational endorsement certificate in pharmacy technology. Students gain the necessary background to continue on to pharmacy school or to work immediately supporting a pharmacist. Participants learn the fundamentals required to work in the competitive pharmacy field.
Students study subjects such as pharmacy calculations and pharmacology for technicians. The streamlined program takes just a single semester of full-time study. Graduates understand drug contraindications, federal regulations, and proper storage. The program prepares students to sit for the national pharmacy technician certification board examination and work in various settings.
UAA is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
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State Fair Community College
|Sedalia, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Based in Sedalia, Missouri, SFCC offers an online, stackable skills certificate and professional certificate for pharmacy technicians. The skills certificate requires 18 credits, and students who continue on to earn the professional certificate complete an additional 12 credits (30 total).
The skills certificate covers the basics students need to sit for the pharmacy technician certification board examination. Courses include medical terminology and pharmacology. Students seeking a professional certificate receive additional training in essential mathematics, technology and healthcare, and medical terminology.
SFCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
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North Dakota State College of Science
|Wahpeton, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Located in Wahpeton, NDSCS provides students the opportunity to pursue a pharmacy technician certificate online. It blends classroom instruction work with real-world experience through eight weeks of internships at one of the nation's oldest two-year schools.
The hybrid program includes live online instruction as well as on-campus courses. The course contains 44 credits, including an eight-credit internship. The program boasts a 100% employment rate after course completion since 1994, when the program began. Students prepare to sit for the certification exam and master the tools required to work in pharmacies.
NDSCS is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission.
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Minnesota West Community and Technical College
|Granite Falls, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Located in Worthington, MWCTC offers students the chance to complete a 10-credit pharmacy technician certificate. Students prepare to assist pharmacists by completing foundational coursework and an externship.
Participants choose between hospital or retail settings for externship placements after completing courses in medical terminology and pharmacy principles and practices. Students who complete online pharmacy technician training prepare to take the certification exam and find employment after graduation.
MWCTC belongs to the Minnesota State System and receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The school is also recognized by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Minnesota State Approving Agency for Veteran Education Benefits.
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Allen County Community College
|Iola, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 38%||
Located in Iola, Kansas, Allen gives students the chance to complete a pharmacy technician certificate. Founded in 1923, the school's long history of educational excellence gives students a critical boost for career development.
The certificate track features 31 credits in a variety of subjects, designed to give students foundational knowledge and experience. Courses include pharmacology and pharmaceutical calculations. Students also train in business communications, helping prepare them for their future customer service needs.
Allen is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
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Online Pharmacy Technician Training Program Overview
Pharmacy technician certificate and associate degree programs teach students the skills needed to assist pharmacists in filling prescriptions. They also provide information on the composition and uses of common medications. In addition, students learn about ethical and legal considerations of dispensing drugs, appropriate professional behavior, and the calculations used in pharmacy practice.
Graduates of pharmacy tech training programs are qualified to dispense medications in a pharmacy setting under the supervision of a pharmacist. However, several states also require pharmacy technicians to pass a certification exam. Pharmacy techs wishing to become pharmacists must earn a four-year bachelor's degree and then complete a 3-4-year graduate program.
Common Pharmacy Technician Courses
- Introduction to Pharmacy
This course differentiates the roles of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and explores the responsibilities of pharmacy technicians in retail and hospital settings and in the healthcare system. Students gain skills related to interpreting pharmacy orders. Topics include ethics, quality assurance, medical terminology, and drug delivery systems.
- Pharmacy Practice
In this class, learners gain the skills needed to process prescriptions, apply relevant laws and regulations, evaluate insurance coverage, and dispense medications under supervision. Specific coursework may include professional behavior, drug labeling, dispensing procedures, and controlled substance procedures.
- Pharmacy Calculations
Here, students learn different systems of measurement related to pharmacy practice. They also learn to calculate medical dosages needed to prepare medication orders. Topics include pediatric dosages and powdered medications.
This course introduces the properties and effects of pharmacologic agents in major drug categories. Students learn to categorize major drugs according to their therapeutic categories and identify their generic names, indications, and side effects. Specific topics include hormones, nutritional products, respiratory drugs, and gastrointestinal agents.
- Pharmacy Clinical
Pharmacy tech training programs typically include one or more opportunities for students to work in a pharmacy under the supervision of a pharmacist. Students apply their classroom knowledge and receive on-site training and experience. Learners practice dispensing medications, interacting with patients, and operating pharmacy computer systems.
Online Pharmacy Technician Program Admission Requirements
High School Diploma or GED Certificate
Applicants must graduate from high school before pursuing a college-level pharmacy technician certificate or associate degree. Some programs will accept a GED credential in place of a high school diploma.
Some pharmacy technician training programs require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores (or other placement test scores). Check with your school to see if it requires recent test scores.
Programs will likely require you to submit official transcripts from your high school and any colleges you have attended. Some programs may also require prerequisite courses (such as algebra or English composition) and/or a specific minimum GPA (typically in the range of 2.0-2.8).
Some programs require applicants to submit a negative result on a drug test; this is typically needed to work in pharmacies and medical facilities.
Some training programs require applicants to pass a background check and have no felony convictions.
Pharmacy Technician Career Paths
In general, the role of a pharmacy technician is an entry-level position; however, some pharmacy techs can move into supervisory or management positions as they gain experience. Some states and employers require pharmacy technicians to be certified or licensed, which is done by passing a certification exam. The National Healthcareer Association and the Pharmacy Technical Certification Board offer certification exams for pharmacy technicians.
Those who wish to advance their careers by becoming pharmacists must complete a bachelor's program and then enter graduate school. Pharmacists typically need to hold a doctor of pharmacy, which is a four-year professional degree. Pharmacists must also gain licensure, which requires passing two certification exams.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How much does a pharmacy tech make with an associate degree?
Most pharmacy technicians earn between $23,000 and $48,000 annually, and the median wage is $32,700 nationwide. An associate degree can help you qualify for a higher-paying job, as compared to only earning a certificate.
- Can you become a pharmacist with an associate degree?
To qualify for a job as a pharmacist, you must earn a bachelor's degree and then a doctor of pharmacy. Finishing both degrees as a full-time student typically takes 6-8 years. However, earning an associate degree may be a good first step toward a career as a pharmacist.
- Is pharmacy a good career?
Pharmacy technicians are in demand. The BLS projects employment for pharmacy techs to increase faster than average in the coming years and notes that pharmacy technicians may take on more responsibilities in the future as pharmacists become more involved in patient care activities, such as giving flu shots.
- Is pharmacy technician a stressful job?
Working in a busy pharmacy can be stressful. Pharmacy technicians must negotiate with healthcare providers and insurance companies on behalf of customers and patients. Interacting with patients regarding their medical needs takes professionalism and patience.
- Can you become a pharmacy tech without going to school?
Pharmacy technicians can sometimes learn their role through on-the-job training, provided they graduated from high school or earned a GED certificate. However, your state or employer may require certification; this could mean that you need to enter a postgraduate training program and pass a certification exam.
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