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Online Colleges for Pharmacy Technicians

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The career of a pharmacy technician may be a great choice for students interested in healthcare but who aren't sure they want to go to medical school or pursue another medical field. This profession plays a valuable role in caring for patients by helping them to get and understand their medications.

Fortunately, it's also a career that students can train for online, often in a year or less.

Some pharmacy technicians train on the job. However many states and employers require certification. Both the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Heathcareer Association (NHA) offer certifications. Many online colleges for pharmacy technicians prepare graduates for certification.

On this page, you will find details about 10 featured online pharmacy tech programs. Plus, read about what pharmacy technicians do, how to train for this career and what to expect from online programs.

Featured Online Colleges for Pharmacy Technicians

While pharmacy technicians may receive on-the-job training, this is a complex job. New information about drugs and their effects come to light every day. Technicians are being asked to work more closely with patients and know more about medications. Schooling prepares future pharmacy technicians to take on added responsibility. More pharmacies may require pharmacy techs to have formal training in the future.

For students thinking about online pharmacy technician programs, check out these 10 featured programs.

Community Care College

The nonprofit Community Care College offers pharmacy technician students the choice of earning a career diploma, which can typically be completed in one year, or an associate degree. The programs can be completed on-campus or entirely online. The programs are designed to prepare graduates to take the PTCB national certification exam.

During the program, students are able to take field trips and get hands-on experiences in retail pharmacies, filling prescriptions and preparing compounds.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

Location:

4242 S. Sheridan Road
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74145
Go to School Website 

Hutchinson Community College

Hutchinson Community College offers more than 250 online courses, with many associate and certificate programs offered completely online. Its pharmacy technician certificate program is 39 credit hours long. It includes a practicum, which gives students hands-on experience working in pharmacies.

This Kansas-based college is part of the Jayhawk Athletic Conference. Even online students may enjoy rooting for Hutchinson's 13 athletic teams in sports ranging from football to golf, volleyball and track.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

Location:

1300 North Plum
Hutchinson, Kansas 67501
Go to School Website 

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Students in Minnesota State Community and Technical College's pharmacy technician program can choose to earn a 36-credit diploma or a 60-credit associate of applied science (AAS) degree. Classes are online, but hands-on training takes place in the lab at the Wadena campus.

A group of local industry professionals review the curriculum, making sure the courses include useful, current content. This program was ranked No. 5 nationally by BestCollege.com in its 2016 list of Best Online Pharmacy Technician Programs.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

1414 College Way
Fergus Falls, Minnesota 56537
Go to School Website 

North Central Missouri College

Students at North Central Missouri College can choose between earning a pharmacy technician associate degree or a one-semester pharmacy technician certificate. The associate degree typically takes two years to complete. The certificate program prepares students for the Missouri state certification exam.

Although these programs are not fully online, major parts of their programs are available online. Toward the ends of both programs, students complete pharmacy internships. Also, both programs include a course called Employment Strategies, which assists students in finding jobs.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

1301 Main St.
Trenton, Missouri 64683
Go to School Website 

Penn Foster Career School

This Penn Foster pharmacy technician program is fully online. The diploma can generally be earned in nine months. As part of the program, students do externships at one of Penn Foster's partner pharmacies: CVS or Walgreens. Tuition includes a voucher for the PTCB practice exam. The school sponsors students for the PTCB exam by paying exam fees.

Students may enjoy support features from Penn Foster such as a customizable study planner, tutoring from content experts, financial advising, customized payment plans and career services experts to help with job searching.

Accreditation:

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  • International Association for Continuing Education and Training

Location:

925 Oak St.
Scranton, Pennsylvania 18515
Go to School Website 

Pinnacle Career Institute

This fully online program can usually be completed in 11 months and ends in a certificate. It prepares students to sit for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam and earn the NHA's CPhT credential. Courses are career-centered and provide skills necessary in today's pharmacies. Students also get hands-on experience through externships in real pharmacies.

Pinnacle Career Institute, which is based in Kansas City, Missouri, offers students career services such as resume help, interview prep and job leads. Its online library is accessible 24/7, with an online librarian always available.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

Location:

10301 Hickman Mills Drive
Kansas City, Missouri 64137
Go to School Website 

Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College offers a fully online pharmacy technician certificate program. Students can generally earn their certificate in nine months. The curriculum is skills based. It ends with a virtual practicum that allows students to rehearse real-life situations. When finished, students should be ready to take the PTCB exam. Rasmussen will reimburse students' application fees for the first attempt at the exam. Students may also transfer the certificate to earn a health sciences associate degree, which is typically completed in nine more months.

Students at Southwestern Oregon Community College benefit from the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). The TLC is a resource that provides online teaching support to faculty and helps them use technology to the fullest for students.

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Location:

8300 Norman Center Drive, Suite 300
Bloomington, Minnesota 55437
Go to School Website 

Southwestern Oregon Community College

The online pharmacy technician program at Southwestern Oregon Community College is a 51-credit program that aims to prepare students to work in retail or hospital pharmacies. Students will graduate with certificates of completion that show they are able to assist pharmacists with preparing and giving out medications.

Students at Southwestern Oregon Community College benefit from the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). The TLC is a resource that provides online teaching support to faculty and helps them use technology to the fullest for students.

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Location:

1988 Newmark Ave.
Coos Bay, Oregon 97420
Go to School Website 

Ultimate Medical Academy

Ultimate Medical Academy has an online associate degree program and an online career diploma program for pharmacy technicians. The associate program includes a 180-hour externship in a real pharmacy. It can typically be completed in 17 months. The career diploma can usually be done in 11 months, and it includes an externship as well. Graduates of both are generally prepared to take the PCTB exam. The Ultimate Medical Academy program provides exam-relevant content and tutoring if needed.

Ultimate Medical Academy has partnerships with national pharmacies, such as Walgreens and CVS. This may help students with job placement after graduation.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

Location:

3101 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Tampa, Florida 33607
Go to School Website 

U.S. Career Institute

The online pharmacy technician certificate program at U.S. Career Institute can generally be completed in as little as four months. Courses are online, but students get hands-on training through externships at Walgreens. The program is designed to prepare students for the PCTB exam.

An enhanced tuition program includes extras that give students head starts in their careers: an executive organizer, a flash drive, first-aid kit, pharmacology textbooks, resume-maker software and PTCB exam review. Near the end of the program, students get job search help from graduate counselors.

Accreditation:

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission

Location:

2001 Lowe St.
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525
Go to School Website 

At a Glance: Pharmacy Technician Programs

Below you can see the tuition and program length of the 10 pharmacy technician programs that were featured earlier on this page. This chart allows you to see all this information at a glance. Note that the program length is a general estimate provided by schools and it may vary depending on the student. Also, the tuition column is marked if the school offered at least one program under the specified amount; this price does not necessarily apply to all pharmacy technician programs offered by the school. If you are interested in a school, visit their website to learn more about their current tuition for the program you are investigating. This information is current as of May 2016.

CollegesOffers Tuition Under $5,000Typical Program length
Community Care College 1 year (diploma)
2 years (associate degree)
Hutchinson Community CollegeX39 credit hours / 3 semesters (certificate program)
Minnesota State Community and Technical College 36 credit hours (diploma)
60 credit hours (AAS degree)
North Central Missouri CollegeX1 semester (certificate)
2 years (associate degree)
Penn Foster Career SchoolX9 months (diploma)
Pinnacle Career Institute 11 months (certificate)
Rasmussen College 9 months (certificate)
18 months (associate degree)
Southwestern Oregon Community CollegeX51 credit hours / 3 semesters (certificate)
Ultimate Medical Academy 11 months (certificate)
17 months (associate degree)
U.S. Career InstituteX4 months (certificate)
Want to see additional online colleges for pharmacy technicians?
Search our school directory to find the right program for you.

Interview with an Expert
The flexibility of a completely online program
is very convenient for students.

Cody Yeager

Dean of Career and Technical Education

Southwestern Oregon Community College

Interview with an Expert
Cody Yeager

Cody Yeager

Dean of Career and Technical Education

Southwestern Oregon Community College

Q: What qualities make Southwestern Oregon Community College's online pharmacy technician program outstanding?

A: The flexibility of a completely online program is very convenient for students. We enjoy strong community support in regard to placement for cooperative work experience.

Q: What support does Southwestern Oregon Community College offer its online student body?

A: Online students have the support of the Teaching and Learning Center at Southwestern. TLC offers facilitation, support and resources for teaching, learning and technology to faculty and staff. The staff at TLC do a fabulous job of providing extensive support to both students and faculty. Our library can also be accessed online. Our tutoring center provides both in-person and online tutoring.

Q: How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

A: At Southwestern, we definitely see a trend toward offering more online courses and programs in the future. Students want them and many instructors also prefer this delivery method. In Allied Health, we anticipate that we will offer more hybrid and interactive delivery methods. This is clearly the future for college instruction. We are always growing and adding new courses and programs online. We want to remain current and competitive in order to offer our students the best options. In the future, I see online education continuing to be dynamic and versatile.

Online Pharmacy Technician Courses

Pharmacy technician programs vary by school. However there are certain skills and knowledge that all pharmacy technicians are expected to have. Most programs include the following online pharmacy technician courses, though the class names may differ:

Introduction to Pharmacy
Students learn about the pharmacy profession and the role of the pharmacy technician. Lessons include basic duties of the pharmacy technician at any community pharmacy and how pharmacies operate.

Pharmaceutical Terminology
This class teaches students about the terms they will hear when working in pharmacies. It includes the most common prefixes, roots and suffixes. Students will learn to understand the meanings of medical terms by looking at the parts of those words.

Compounding
Students learn how drugs are mixed in pharmacy settings, how to label and how to care for equipment and supplies.

Pharmaceutical Calculations
This class teaches students the basic calculations used in pharmacies to give drugs to patients. Students work with weight and measurement equipment. Topics include how to determine dosages and prescription amounts.

Drug Interactions
Lessons focus on the bad effects drugs may have and how they interact with each other in the body to create poor side effects. Students learn how to identify drug reactions and which drugs should not interact with other drugs or alcohol.

Pharmacy Technician Externship
Most programs involve hands-on training through externships. These courses put students in real-life pharmacy settings, under the watchful eyes of licensed pharmacists. This experience is required for graduation. It's especially important for online students, as it may be the only hands-on training in their programs.

Most pharmacy technicians study basic math, algebra and record keeping. They also learn about ways of dispensing medications as well as pharmacy laws and ethics. Pharmacy technicians should also be good at customer service, listening, organization and paying attention to details.

Certified pharmacy technicians will need to recertify every two years by taking continuing education classes.

Pharmacy Technician Career Outlook

Pharmacy technicians are often the first people to speak with pharmacy customers. Usually, customers know very little about their medications. Some may even be nervous about their illnesses and treatments. Pharmacy technicians play an important part in the process of getting the correct medications to patients and helping them understand their prescriptions. Below you will see a description of the pharmacy technician job and details about the outlook of the career.

Pharmacy Technician
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2014 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$30,410
Annual Job Openings Annual job openings refers to the average job openings each year, 2012-22, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
379,430
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
High school diploma or equivalent
The job of a pharmacy technician keeps changing as new drugs are developed and healthcare needs shift. More and more, pharmacists are relying on technicians to go beyond their regular duties. They aren't just selling prescriptions. They are working closely with patients to gather information about allergies and symptoms, as well as patient information needed to fill prescriptions. They are also providing needed information to pharmacists. Many even train and evaluate less-experienced technicians. Of course, techs also measure prescriptions, label drugs, answer phone calls, and work with insurance companies and doctors. Pharmacy technicians with formal training and certifications may be preferred by employers.

Sources

  1. “4 Ways the Pharmacy Technician Profession Is Changing,” Ryan Marotta, March 18, 2016, Pharmacy Times, Accessed May 2016, http://www.pharmacytimes.com/technician-news/4-ways-the-pharmacy-technician-profession-is-changing
  2. Cost of Attending Community Care College, StartClass, Accessed May 2016, http://college-tuition.startclass.com/l/5756/Community-Care-College
  1. Course Outline, National Pharmacy Technician Association, Accessed May 2016, http://www.pharmacytechnician.org/syllabus/
  2. Hutchinson Community College, Accessed May 2016, www.hutchcc.edu
  3. Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Accessed May 2016, www.minnesota.edu
  4. North Central Missouri College, Accessed May 2016, www.ncmissouri.edu
  5. Penn Foster Career School, Accessed May 2016, www.pennfoster.edu
  6. Pharmacy Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-2017 Edition, Accessed April 2016, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm
  7. Pinnacle Career Institute, Accessed May 2016, www.pcitraining.edu
  8. Rasmussen College, Accessed May 2016, www.rasmussen.edu
  9. Southwestern Oregon Community College, Accessed May 2016, www.socc.edu
  10. U.S. Career Academy, Accessed May 2016, www.uscareerinstitute.edu
  11. Ultimate Medical Academy, Accessed May 2016, www.ultimatemedical.edu