Overview of Online Pharmacy Technician Schools
Most online pharmacy technician training programs are at the certificate or associate degree level. Earning your pharmacy technician certificate online allows you to work at the same time, providing experience and a chance for you to use your new skills in a professional setting.
Pharmacy technicians are an important part of the health care system. They work in pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics to fill prescriptions, prepare intravenous medications, and give medication to patients.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board requires that certification candidates attend an accredited higher education program.
How Long Does Online Pharmacy Technician School Take?
The American Society for Healthcare Pharmacists (ASHP) requires accredited programs to last a minimum of 15 weeks. That’s about four to five months. Most certificate programs last about a year, and most associate degree programs last one to two years.
Some online schools for pharmacy tech allow students to transfer credits from other institutions or previous degree programs. Therefore, it's important to speak with an academic advisor about using previous credits and/or work experience to supplement credit hours.
Financial Aid for Online Students
Many states offer the same scholarships for online students as they do for traditional, in-person students. So, be sure to research what your program’s state may be able to offer you. Some forms of financial aid for pharmacy technician programs are specifically awarded by the ASHP.
In terms of applying for financial aid, you can start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which also offers financial assistance toward online programs.
Pharmacy tech requires knowledge of mathematics, medical administration, and pharmacy law. Online certification programs and associate degrees can provide the education and skills necessary to succeed in the field.
Interpersonal Communications for the Workplace
Pharmacy technicians interact with patients and customers a lot, so having effective interpersonal communication skills is very important. Courses like this teach customer service skills, non-verbal communication, and problem-solving strategies.
Dosage Forms and Routes of Administration
It’s important for pharmacy technicians to understand how medications interact with bodies, how to administer medications, and how to calculate dosages. This core course teaches these aspects of pharmacy tech and trains graduates about how they can help their patients succeed.
Pharmacology science is the core of drug administration. This course covers how drugs get approved for general use and how dosages are calculated — essential skills for a pharmacy technician.
Hospital Pharmacy Practice
While some pharmacy technicians work at general pharmacies, they may also work in hospitals. This course discusses the way a hospital operates and a pharmacy technician's role in that space.
Medicine and health care can be a complicated, personal experience, but it’s still regulated by laws and codes of conduct. It’s important for pharmacy technicians to know the modern laws governing pharmacy and pharmacology practices and the ethical considerations for different customer situations.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
Pharmacy technicians collect prescription information from customers or health professionals, gather the requested medication, and package the prescriptions for delivery. They also organize inventory, process insurance claims, and manage stock. Pharmacy technicians are usually front-facing and interact with customers to help them receive their medication as efficiently as possible.
The median annual salary for pharmacy technicians is $36,740, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They also project a 4% job growth between 2020 and 2030. Both the expected salary and job growth are significantly below the U.S. averages across occupations.
How Can I Become a Pharmacy Technician?
How do I find an online program? Choosing an online pharmacy tech program requires a little bit of research. First, decide if you want a certificate or an associate degree. Then, search for accredited schools that fit your needs. Additionally, you may want to check out the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), which outlines state-specific requirements. It helps to know what's required ahead of time, so you can make a plan and find the best program to suit your needs.
How can I access online courses? Online programs use a learning management system (LMS) to give students access to their coursework. Some programs have live classes, while others provide all the material and allow students to work at their own pace.
Do I need to get certified as a pharmacy technician? Yes, you will need to get certified. Since pharmacy technicians work with medicine, it’s important that they’re fully qualified to do so. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board requires that pharmacy techs are certified before they can work.
How do I find a job? Once you’ve graduated and become certified, you can look for a job in the field. Your school may provide online resources to help, such as career advisement.
Is Becoming a Pharmacy Technician Worth It?
Like any career, there are benefits and drawbacks to working as a pharmacy technician. It can be hectic and stressful, but there’s satisfaction in helping people. Consider the following pros and cons:
You’re helping people. If you’ve ever been sick, you know how important it is to get your medication and trust that it’s correct. As a pharmacy technician, you’re the one providing relief and helping people save time and money. It can definitely be satisfying to build relationships with regular customers.
It doesn’t require higher education. Most of the skills and knowledge pharmacy technicians need is learned on the job. Certification is important to get started and prepare you for a career, but once you’re ready, you’ll improve through experience.
No two days are the same. Pharmacies and hospitals see a lot of people with various needs. Pharmacy technicians have different tasks each day, speak with a wide range of people, and constantly learn new things.
The role has a slow job growth. The BLS predicts a 4% job growth rate for pharmacy technicians, which is significantly lower than the U.S. average of 8%. It may be hard to find work without a steady stream of new jobs in the field.
There is a low satisfaction rate among employees. Pharmacy technicians rate their job satisfaction as 2.8 out of 5 stars, according to a recent survey. This puts them in the bottom 15% of all U.S. careers.
This career reportedly causes high stress. CareerExplorer interviewed over 6,000 pharmacy technicians to determine how stressful their jobs were. Nearly all of them ranked it as a high stress profession.
Pharmacy technicians organize prescriptions and administer medication and are an important part of the health care system. By working with customers, health care providers, and insurance companies, they’re at the center of it all.
If you’re interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, consider an online certificate or an online associate degree program at one of the best online schools for pharmacy technicians.