Best Online Pharmacy Technician Associate Programs of 2022

Are you considering pursuing work in healthcare without the cost of a 4-year degree? An online pharmacy degree or certificate may be the right fit for you. See the programs deemed to be the best by our experts at BestColleges.

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by Doug Wintemute

Published on March 3, 2022 · Updated on May 5, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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Pharmacy technicians dispense medications, fill prescriptions, and assist pharmacists. A pharmacy technician associate degree offers the most direct route to this field, providing foundational training in pharmacology and terminology.

Typically offered at community colleges, these programs usually require approximately 60 credits and can be completed in two years or less.

As pharmacists take on more patient-care responsibilities and the population ages, pharmacy technician responsibilities will grow with these demands. As a result, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the addition of more than 16,000 new pharmacy technicians between 2020 and 2030.

To help prospective students decide if this field interests them, this guide explores the program in detail, along with opportunities after graduation. It also highlights the best online pharmacy technician associate programs from the top online schools.

What Can I Expect From an Online Pharmacy Technician Associate Program?

Online pharmacy technician associate programs attract students looking to build a medical foundation and enter the field in a relatively short period of time.

Students can complete these programs in two years or less while developing pharmaceutical inventory, calculations, and communication skills.

Prospective students may encounter several types of pharmacy technician training, including certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs.

A pharmacy technician associate degree is typically the most involved of these options, featuring more general and medical foundation courses. For learners who may wish to continue their studies in the future, associate degrees can help ease the transition.

Most schools award an associate of applied science degree in pharmacy technician or pharmacy technology. These career-focused programs usually include extensive practical training, including simulated lab work, internships, and work placements.

Depending on their state, pharmacy technician associate programs may qualify graduates for postgraduate certification, such as from the National Healthcareer Association. These programs may also hold accreditation from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

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Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Pharmacy Technician Associate Program?

Pharmacotherapeutics

This course teaches students about drugs and their effects on the human body. Learners study basic disease states. They also examine how drugs treat disease and how they interact with each other.

Pharmacy Dispensing

In this course, students learn how to prepare and dispense prescription medication safely and legally. They also learn how to compound medication and how to complete dosage forms.

Pharmacy Calculations

Students in this course learn how to make calculations for medication dispensing and dosing purposes. They look at ratios, proportions, and percentages, along with dilutions and concentrations.

Anatomy and Physiology

This course explores human anatomy and physiology. Students familiarize themselves with the systems and organs, the functions, and the terminology.

Pharmacy Management

In this course, students learn about the types of pharmacies and the administrative and management tasks involved in operating them. They look at inventory control, pricing, and operational rules and regulations.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Pharmacy Technician Associate Program?

The admission requirements for an online pharmacy technician associate program can vary considerably. Schools typically require proof of a completed high school diploma or a GED test. They may also request college entrance exams, letters of recommendation, and college application essays.

While many community colleges offer open admission, more competitive programs may require a specific GPA minimum from high school. Prospective students with previous college training may need to meet a GPA minimum as well, but they could receive transfer credits to reduce study times and costs for the associate degree.

Schools may also award college credit for work experience, particularly if the experience is from a relevant field.

What Can I Do With an Online Pharmacy Technician Associate Degree?

Career Outlook

The BLS projects 4% job growth for pharmacy technicians between 2020 and 2030, lower than the overall growth rate for all U.S. occupations. Yet, professional opportunities still remain, particularly for those with a pharmacy technician associate degree.

Degree-holders enter the field with more training and more practical experience than most other avenues, giving them an advantage over their competition.

In addition to the BLS projected addition of over 16,000 new jobs between 2020 and 2030, more than 31,000 jobs are projected to open annually to cover industry turnover.

Graduates with an associate degree may decide to pursue careers, training, and credentials in the medical field, such as medical assistant.

Career Paths

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in filling prescriptions and dispensing medications. They also work with customers, take care of packaging and labeling, and help manage inventories. Technicians may need certification in some states for which a pharmacy technician associate degree should qualify.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $35,100

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants perform clinical and administrative duties in healthcare clinics, offices, and hospitals. They may also help doctors with examinations and check patient information and vitals. Employers may require medical assistants to possess certification for employment.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $35,850

Medical Transcriptionists

Medical transcriptionists turn audio recordings from healthcare professionals into written records. They translate abbreviations and fix errors in records to create accurate, sortable, and searchable records for the computerized filing system. Employers may require transcriptionists to possess certification.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $35,270

Phlebotomist

Phlebotomists draw blood from patients for donations and medical and research purposes. They work with medical equipment and patient records while keeping their instruments and workstations clean and sanitary. Phlebotomists usually need professional certification for employment.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $36,320

Clinical Laboratory Technician

Clinical laboratory technicians collect and run tests on fluids and substances for research, patient data, and medical procedures. They work with lab equipment and technologies and medical records. States and employers may require that clinical laboratory technicians hold certification and licensure.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $54,180

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Continuing Education

After completing an online pharmacy technician associate degree, graduates can continue their training in several directions.

They may build on their healthcare foundations with a bachelor's degree in a medical discipline, such as a bachelor's in medical billing and coding, a bachelor's in healthcare management, or a bachelor's in healthcare administration.

Bachelor's degrees can lead to more diverse career opportunities or graduate degrees in the field.

Pharmacy technicians can also pursue certification with the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the National Healthcareer Association. Another option includes a medical certificate, such as a certificate in medical billing and coding or a certificate in medical office administration.

How Do I Choose an Online Pharmacy Technician Associate Program?

Cost

When comparing costs, there are many factors prospective students should consider. They can start by comparing online and on-campus program costs, private and public school costs, and in-state and out-of-state program costs. They should also calculate the true program cost, which includes how their studies may impact their current income.

Program Format

Prospective students should look at the program format to find the most suitable option for their learning style and educational interests. For example, they can weigh the pros and cons between synchronous vs. asynchronous learning and full-time vs. part-time programs. They might also consider accelerated or self-paced programs, if applicable.

Location

Location should play an important role in the decision, regardless of whether learners choose an online or on-campus college. While on-campus learners need to think about their travel and living arrangements, online learners may also need to travel to their school. Online colleges may feature some on-campus requirements as part of the program.

Accreditation

All prospective students, both online and on-campus, need to be sure the schools they are considering have accreditation. As per our accreditation guide, institutional accreditation is the most important and can affect financial aid, licensure, and future employment.

While not always mandatory for employment, pharmacy technician associate programmatic accreditation is awarded by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Student Support

Looking at the student services offered can be an effective way to compare programs. Prospective students should look critically at the available online student services and support programs to see if their schools and programs address areas that mean the most to them.

Review the school's academic and wellness services, their college mentorship programs, and how they support college internships and employment.

2022 Best Accredited Online Pharmacy Technician Associate Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1 Online College in Kansas

Allen County Community College

School Information
Location Iola, Kansas
Graduation Rate 39%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 73% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $126
Out of State | $126

Credits to Graduate
60

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Based in Iola, Kansas, Allen offers an associate of applied science program for aspiring pharmacy technicians. Full-time learners complete two years of study over four semesters. Courses in the 60-credit curriculum include medical terminology, pharmacy calculations, professionalism in healthcare, pharmacy operations, and drug awareness. The program culminates in either an internship or a pharmacy technician topics capstone course. 

Students complete asynchronous coursework through the Canvas learning management system. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. 

#2 Online College in Missouri

North Central Missouri College

School Information
Location Trenton, Missouri
Graduation Rate 41%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 63% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $219
Out of State | $219

Credits to Graduate
67

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

NCMC offers an associate of applied science program for learners who want to become pharmacy technicians. The program takes two years (five semesters, including one summer term) to complete. A few of the online courses in the 67-credit curriculum include lab components that students must complete on campus in Trenton, Missouri. 

Relevant courses in the curriculum include medical law and ethics, basic medical terminology, pharmacy calculations, and introduction to chemistry. All students have the opportunity to complete a pharmacy technician internship during their final semester.

Prospective students need a high school or GED diploma. 

#3 Online College in Wisconsin

Lakeshore Technical College

School Information
Location Cleveland, Wisconsin
Graduation Rate 46%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 67% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $141
Out of State | $212

Credits to Graduate
61

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Based in Cleveland, Wisconsin, LTC provides an online associate degree in pharmacy services management. The curriculum includes foundational courses like fundamentals of reading prescriptions, pharmacy business applications, and pharmacy law. In their final semester, students complete a capstone course where they apply what they've learned in a professional pharmaceutical setting. 

Prospective students must complete an application and a background check, submit official transcripts, and take a student success questionnaire.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pharmacy Technician Associate Programs

Is a pharmacy technician associate degree worth it? true

Yes. A pharmacy technician associate degree can provide students and graduates with a great deal of value. These programs may lead to employment in the field in less than two years. The training also can provide a medical education foundation on which to build.

An online degree program can be worthwhile since it can provide flexible and accessible training.

For example, online programs may offer asynchronous study schedules, allowing working professionals to study after work. The ability to choose programs across the country also gives students more selection and opportunities.

How fast can I get a pharmacy technician associate degree online? true

Typically, an online pharmacy technician associate degree takes students approximately two years to complete.

However, online schools may provide accelerated study options, which can compress the training into one year or less. Accelerated programs usually allow students to take heavier course loads to finish quickly.

Accelerated training can be challenging, so students should ensure their schedule and learning styles allow for it. Learners with previous college training or relevant experience may also qualify for transfer credits, reducing the overall training times required.

Is an online pharmacy technician associate degree credible? true

Yes. An online pharmacy technician associate degree provides the same training as an on-campus program — just through a different medium. While not every employer requires an associate degree for employment, these degrees provide adequate training and preparation for the profession.

Though not mandatory, prospective students can get some peace of mind by choosing an accredited program. The curriculums for accredited programs are reviewed to ensure they train pharmacy technicians properly. Programs also need a minimum of 600 instruction hours to receive accreditation.

How much money can I make with a pharmacy technician associate degree?

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for pharmacy technicians was $35,100, as of May 2020. The top 10% of earners in the field made more than $50,430, while the lowest 10% made less than $25,400.

The industries technicians work in can affect their salaries. In hospital pharmacies, for example, these professionals made median annual wages of $39,290, as of May 2020. In traditional pharmacies and drug stores, they earned $33,110. And in food and beverage stores, they earned $32,320.

Is a pharmacy technician associate degree in demand?

The BLS projects 4% job growth for pharmacy technicians from 2020-2030, equating to over 16,000 new positions during that time. While this projected rate is lower than the overall growth numbers for all U.S. occupations, associate degree-holders may still see opportunities.

Both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are taking on more responsibilities, which requires more flexibility and adaptability. As some of the most highly trained professionals in the pharmacy technician field, associate degree graduates could qualify for more desirable and higher-paying positions.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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