Pharmacy technician associate's degree programs are available online, though they often include lab courses and internships that must be done in person. Previous course work in biology, chemistry, math and composition may be prerequisites prior to enrollment in this degree program. In order to complete the online coursework, students will need access to basic productivity software, as well as a broadband DSL or cable connection. Some states require formal postsecondary training for pharmacy technicians, but in other states, a high school diploma is sufficient to start this career. Check for state-specific regulations when choosing an educational program.
Associate's Degrees in Pharmacy Technology
An online associate's degree program in pharmacy technology helps students develop the skills and knowledge they need to fill patient prescriptions and perform related support duties. Students learn the basics of pharmacology, medical technology, medical terminology and record keeping. Some programs are also configured to help students transfer their credits if they eventually want to become pharmacists.
Enrollment in a pharmacy technology associate's degree program requires a high school diploma or GED, with preference given to applicants who have completed course work in biology, chemistry, math and composition.
Program Information and Requirements
Apart from lab courses and clinical internships, most classes in an online pharmacy technology associate's degree program may be completed online. Readings, lectures, assignments and other content are accessible 24 hours a day through a school's website. Assignments must be completed by specified deadlines. An associate's degree is typically earned in two years.
Students need a personal computer, basic productivity software and Internet access to participate in an online associate's degree program. Schools recommend a broadband DSL or cable connection.
Associate's degree programs are comprised of general education courses and subject-specific courses. General education courses may include composition, philosophy, sociology and psychology.
The history, purpose and operation of pharmacies are broadly examined in this course. Courses cover medical terminology, abbreviations, reference sources and payment systems.
This course covers the clerical and technical process of distributing medications in both inpatient and outpatient facilities. Course work touches on equipment and materials, inventory control, quality control and packaging.
Students in this course learn the various categories and classifications of commonly prescribed drugs, as well as their intended therapeutic effects. Drug interactions and side effects are also among the topics covered.
Pharmacy Law and Ethics
This course surveys legal mandates and professional codes of conduct governing the sale and distribution of drugs. Both state and federal pharmaceutical laws are considered.
An online associate's degree in pharmacy technology qualifies graduates to become pharmacy technicians. Although a degree isn't required for the position, most employers prefer employees with formal education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of pharmacy technicians will increase 9% over the years 2014-2024. Growth will be driven by the expanded role pharmacies are playing in patient care and the expanded role of technicians as caregivers and clerical workers. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $30,410 as of May 2015 for pharmacy technicians.
Continuing Education Information
Pharmacy technicians who want to become pharmacists need to earn a 4-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.). According to the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, credits from a pharmacy technology associate's degree program can potentially be transferred to a Pharm.D. program (www.acpe-accredit.org). A few schools offer Pharm.D. programs online.
Associate's degree programs in pharmacy technology are available online, although in-person internships and labs are usually required. Through coursework in pharmaceutical products and pharmacy law and ethics, students become familiar with the operations of pharmacies.