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Online Pharmacy Tech Programs: A Complete Guide to the Top 17

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Pharmacists are in high demand. Pharmacy technicians, who do everything from inputting prescriptions to compounding sterile solutions and ringing up clients, perform much of the day-to-day work at a pharmacy. Do you want to have a career as a pharmacy tech? Read on to learn about the best online pharmacy tech programs and schools!

Job Prospects for Pharmacy Techs

The job prospects for those looking to learn more about becoming a pharmacy technician are excellent. With so many possible employment options, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, drug stores, grocery stores, and mail-order pharmacies, the chances of finding a suitable position are promising.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that employment prospects for pharmacy technicians will grow faster than average, with a 12 percent increase in employment expected from 2016 and 2026. Pharmacy technicians have been responsible for more complex activities as pharmacists have expanded their responsibilities to include a more patient-centered approach.

The employment of pharmacists is becoming more widespread, with many businesses using them to help improve their operations. Due to this, the jobs have grown in scope and complexity, necessitating more thorough training for pharmacy technicians.

As the field of pharmacy evolves, so does the demand for skilled technicians.

For individuals who wish to work in this fast-growing sector, training for the position is increasing in more states.

It is still feasible to work as a pharmacy technician in certain states with only a high school diploma and on-the-job training. However, the focus on more formal education for pharmacy technicians is growing. A formal education ensures they have the understanding and abilities to complete all of the duties they are expected to accomplish on the job. Read on to learn about the top online pharmacy tech programs!

Pharmacy Tech Schools: What to Expect in an Online Program

A pharmacy technician certificate or degree opens the door to exciting career possibilities. Pharmacy technicians are the people who make sure that medicines are correctly dispensed and utilized by patients, pharmacists, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, doctors (when applicable), and other healthcare specialists.

Some of the fundamental pharmacy skills students learn in these programs include:

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacy operations
  • Pharmacy calculations
  • Patient interactions, and so on.

Many programs also use lab activities to provide knowledge-based education and skill acquisition as part of their online training.

Some institutions may provide specialized training in aseptic technique, sterile compounding, and other areas to equip students for more advanced pharmacy technician responsibilities.

Other training programs may provide more business training, including keyboarding, communication, and basic skills training, which are essential in this field. Lastly, some programs focus more on biology and chemistry or human anatomy and physiology.

When you learn these topics online, you’ll either have digital or tangible textbooks to help you understand, and you’ll be expected to complete tasks by a specific date.

At the same time, some programs may demand students to log on to the computer and “attend” class simultaneously with other pupils. You may complete your courses and papers at any time of day or night as long as you do them before the deadline.

Many educational institutions allow students to communicate via internet discussion forums, and most online programs provide access to instructors, tutors, and advisors.

Some programs may require you to attend on-site labs held over two or four days. Other programs will need more frequent campus visits. Therefore, you should consider the program’s total necessities and gather all of the information you’ll need to compare your alternatives.

Degree Levels for Online Pharmacy Tech Programs

There are three types of education programs prospective pharmacy technicians should consider: 

  • Diploma
  • Certificate
  • Associate degree

Students who pursue higher levels of education can advance into a career as a pharmacist.

Related Resource: How to Become a Pharmacist

1. Diploma Programs

Diploma programs are more skills-focused and shorter, making them less expensive and time-intensive to complete. They may help students gain a footing in the job market as pharmacy technicians.

Many individuals find this an excellent method to begin working and, with time, increase their educational level to advance in the profession. The majority of instructors will teach students how to take national assessments.

2. Certificate Programs

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) oversee accreditation for certificate programs, which must adhere to strict standards to ensure that they are up to date and meet industry standards.

Internships and externships are often part of certificate programs, in which students may gain more hands-on experience before going into the workforce.

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3. Associate Degree Programs

Associate degree programs for pharmacy technicians include the same courses as a pharmacy technician certificate program, except for more advanced pharmacy, science, and technical training.

An associate degree program typically takes two years to complete if the student is enrolled full-time. After completing the course, a student will receive an Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Applied Science (AAS), or Associate of Occupational Science (AOS) with a concentration in pharmacy technician work.

The curriculum needed may range from relatively basic to more advanced. Some have only general education, and others allow students to take humanities, social science, and other courses of interest.

How to Choose Among the Best Online Pharmacy Tech Programs

If you want to start working right away, a diploma program may be the best option for you. Then, while you work in the industry, you can pursue a certificate or associate degree.

If you want to study and receive the best preparation possible for a career in pharmacology, an associate degree program may be ideal for you.

Regardless of your schooling choice, you must ensure that it aligns with your state’s standards to become an online pharmacy technician.

It’s also a good idea to check your state’s requirements and see what qualifications employers in your region are looking for when hiring. In some instances, you may find that a short diploma course will be ideal to launch your career in becoming a pharmacy technician. In other cases, you will find that employers are looking for the highest level of training possible.

According to degree level, the best online pharmacy tech programs that allow you to become a certified pharmacy technician are as follows.

Top 2 Schools for an Online Pharmacy Tech Diploma

1. Penn Foster

The online Pharmacy Technician program from Pennsylvania Foster University allows students to obtain a diploma that qualifies them for entry-level pharmacy technicians positions.

It may take as little as nine months to prepare students for the PTCE and ExCPT examinations, nationally recognized certification exams. Students may personalize their program by selecting a start date, learning objectives, and receiving personalized coaching to prepare and support their studies.

The courses are mobile-friendly, interactive, and link students with instructors and other pupils in real-time. Tuition for the PCTE includes a practice exam and the cost of textbooks (digital or hard copy), and career services.

View More about Penn Foster

2. Northwest Iowa Community College

The Northwest Iowa Community College’s online Pharmacy Technician Diploma program consists of 50 hours of study and an externship.

Applicants must fulfill the following requirements to secure a spot in this institution:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Vaccination proof
  • Pass a background check, and
  • Undergo drug screening.

The program trains students for the PTCE and entry-level employment in a pharmacy setting through lectures, hands-on labs, pharmacy practice, terminology, and interpreting prescriptions.

Drug classifications, dosage calculations, aseptic technique, inventory control, and billing and reimbursement are just a few of the topics covered in the program.

View More about Northwest Iowa Community College

Top 9 Schools Offering a Pharmacy Tech Certificate Online

1. Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College’s Online Pharmacy Technician Certificate program is a skills-based curriculum taught by experienced professors.

The program has several objectives. One of them is to help students prepare for the PTCE exam by providing virtual or on-site clinical experience. Additionally, the following are also objectives of the program:

  • Medication management
  • Safety and quality assurance
  • Pharmacy software, and
  • Professional practice abilities such as patient confidentiality.

Unfortunately, the program may not fulfill all certification standards in certain states, and students typically graduate over $8,000 in student debt. Therefore, it’s a good idea to first check your state’s requirements before taking the pharmacy technician certification exam here.

In this program, transfer credits are accepted. And, the institution has various payment choices that can assist students in managing their education costs.

2. Hutchinson Community College

The majority of courses in the Pharmacy Technician Certificate program from Hutchinson Community College are online. The programs do have 2, 3, or 4-day face-to-face practicum requirements during each of the three semesters. Students learn and prepare to take the PTCE in the final semester of the program. The program is designed as a full-time course.

Each application for this position must meet the following requirements:

  • 2.0 GPA in math & English courses taken within the last ten years
  • Basic cardiac life support certificate obtained within the last two years
  • A clear drug screening and no felony convictions on your record

This is a low-cost program that includes the possibility of traveling for residency during labs.

View More about Hutchinson Community College

3. State Fair Community College

State Fair Community College’s online Pharmacy Technician Certification is an 18-credit entry-level program for individuals who wish to pursue a career as a pharmacy technician. The PCTB national exam is the end goal of this training program. It allows you to learn at your own speed and prepare you to take the PCTB national examination to become a CPhT.

Additionally, the certificate program allows students to begin working while applying their studies toward professional certificates or associate degrees.

View More about State Fair Community College

4. Sinclair Community College

The online Pharmacy Technician program at Sinclair Community College is a 33-34 credit hour, one-year technical certificate curriculum. The program aims to help students acquire job-related knowledge and abilities and excel in the PTCE skills test.

That’s not all! It includes 80 hours of simulated lab tasks and 210 hours of directed study in pharmacy. To take part in directed practice, students must obtain a grade of B or higher in all pharmacy courses.

View More about Sinclair Community College

5. Barton Community College

Barton Community College’s Pharmacy Technician Certificate program, which requires 29 semester credit hours and two semesters to complete online, offers 100% online courses with a pharmacy internship set up near the student’s home.

The PTCE or ICPT national examinations are prerequisites for this program. And, pharmacy calculations, pharmacy operations, medical jargon, customer service, and business English are all part of the curriculum.

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6. Allen County Community College

It takes two semesters to complete the 31-credit hour online Pharmacy Technician Certificate program from Allen County Community College. To finish the certificate program, students may choose between a pharmacy technician internship or a course in pharmacist technician topics.

The per-credit-hour tuition fees for online students are low, and textbook rental costs help keep expenses down. The curriculum includes courses in operations, arithmetic, computer programming, natural medicine with herbs, business communications, and other topics.

View More about Allen County Community College

7. North Dakota State College of Science

The one-year hybrid/online Pharmacy Technician Certificate degree at North Dakota State College of Science has a suggested sequence. And, live-streamed courses necessitate that students be available at course meeting times.

On-site testing is required, and the program includes eight weeks of hospital and community experience. The majority of pharmacy schools offer a broad curriculum, including law and ethics, IV and sterile products, human relations, and more typical pharmacy courses.

Students may start the program at any time during the fall semester by enrolling in general education classes.

View More about North Dakota State College of Science

8. Northwest Iowa Community College

The Pharmacy Technician Certificate program at Northwest Iowa Community College begins in the fall and takes two semesters to complete.

The program is inexpensive, with few extra costs for out-of-state students. Students in the program take the national exam to acquire their Iowa and other state licenses.

Some courses are only available on campus, and others are available online, allowing students to complete the exercises at their leisure.

View More about Northwest Iowa Community College

9. State Fair Community College

State Fair Community College offers a Professional Certificate in Pharmacy Technician that is 30 credits long and takes 32 weeks to complete. However, only 7% of students completed it that quickly.

This major’s certificate program has all the courses needed for an associate in applied science degree.

Their online professional program is more advanced than their skills certificate course. It offers additional courses in mathematics, medical terminology, and technology. And the course requires professional practice experience.

View More about State Fair Community College

6 Best Pharmacy Tech Schools for an Online Associate Degree

1. Ultimate Medical Academy

Ultimate Medical Academy’s Pharmacy Technician program is entirely online, prepares students for the PTCE exam, and provides 180 hours of hands-on experience under the direction of a licensed pharmacist.

The final year of the Pharmacy Practice program is designed to prepare students for entry-level employment or further study in pharmacy.

The program’s 61.5 credit hours include 37.5 credit hours of pharmacy courses. Students are assigned to elective classes for the remaining hours, such as accounting, healthcare information technology, patient relations, and other vital topics.

The tuition is relatively expensive, but military personnel receive a discount. However, tuition fees include textbooks and online student services, including one-on-one tutoring, 24/7 technical assistance, and counseling for emotional support.

View More about Ultimate Medical Academy

2. State Fair Community College

All the coursework from the skills certificate and professional certificate program are included in the State Fair Community College’s online Associate of Applied Science in Health Care Specialist, emphasizing Pharmacy Technician.

The curriculum includes a required professional practice experience and lasts 61.5 credit hours, and the study is entirely conducted online, with no campus visits required. On-site professional experience, however, must be arranged.

The tuition cost for out-of-state pupils is significantly greater than that of in-state students.

View More about State Fair Community College

3. Barton Community College

Barton Community College’s online Associate of Science in Pharmacy Technician program is for students who wish to continue their education at a four-year university after obtaining an AS degree.

The program comprises of 64credit-hours and includes coursework in fundamental studies, such as:

  • The humanities
  • Social and behavioral science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry, and
  • Human anatomy.

Although the program does not require as many pharmacy technician-specific courses as a more career-focused certificate program, it is still extensive.

Barton College provides several services to help you in your educational endeavors, including online learning. IT assistance, tutoring, counseling, and advice are just a few of the support services that are also available.

Additionally, there are several ways to pay for your education, including tuition payment plans and programs to assist students in transferring credits to a 4-year institution.

View More about Barton Community College

4. Allen County Community College

Students may complete the online Associate in Applied Science for Pharmacy Technician from Allen County Community College. The program offers a wide range of courses to prepare students for a career as entry-level pharmacists, including specific pharmacy technician classes as well as general education and health science classes.

The 60-credit hour program includes the student’s choice of a technical internship or pharmacy topics class and numerous business, computer, and communications courses to complement the training. The course also offers the opportunity to take special topics classes such as Natural Healing with Herbs and Hot Topics in Women’s Health.

View More about Allen County Community College

5. North Dakota State College of Science

North Dakota State College of Science has a variety of online courses accessible for the online associate degree in becoming an online pharmacy technician.

From home, at work, or on the go, the flexibility of this program is unmatched. There are also transfer credits available to military veterans who may apply them to this area of study.

This program aims to get students job-ready with a curriculum that includes several pharmacy lab courses and eight weeks of community and institutional internship.

Lastly, the AAS degree also includes several general education courses directly linked to pharmacological studies, allowing students to concentrate on their chosen professional path.

View More about North Dakota State College of Science

6. Quinsigamond Community College

Quinsigamond Community College (QCC) is a public institution in Worcester, Massachusetts, that offers one of the most competitive pharmacy technician programs.

The Pharmacy Technician Certificate allows students to finish at least 50% of their requirements online. Afterward, the national certification exam is available for pharmacy technician certificate-holders who wish to receive licensure from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy.

It’s a 25-credit hour certificate that requires synchronous and asynchronous classes such as human biology, medical technology, and psychology. Additionally, the program requires 135 hours of externship experience at a local pharmacy.

This course takes two semesters to complete, plus the externship. Students interested in this program must have a GED or high school diploma.

View More about Quinsigamond Community College

Pharmacy Tech Certification

Once you complete your online pharmacy tech program, your next step is certification. To become a certified pharmacy technician in the United States, you must pass one of two certification exams:

  • The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) or
  • The National Healthcare Association’s ExCPT exam.

Even if no legal or regulatory mandate exists for a national exam or certificate in certain states, many businesses search for graduates of accredited programs who have completed the certification examination.

Online Pharmacy Tech Programs FAQ

Can I Train to Be a Pharmacy Technician Online?

Yes. There are online pharmacy technician programs developed to meet this need.

What is the Best Online Pharmacy Tech School?

There is no one best online pharmacy tech school. Online programs all have individual curricula and requirements for enrollment. However, it’s essential that when you are evaluating pharmacy tech schools that you verify your chosen program is accredited and fits your budget and interests.

Does CVS Train You to Be a Pharmacy Tech?

Yes. CVS offers on-the-job training to teach you how to be a pharmacy technician. In fact, this firm is prepared to hire individuals with no prior experience and provide cross-training to help them transition into becoming pharmacy technicians.

Online Pharmacy Tech Programs Await You

With the need for pharmacists continuing to rise, jobs in this field are plentiful. Pharmacy technicians who are well-trained and certified will have a lot of local and national employment opportunities.

And online programs make this field accessible to individuals in all locations!

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