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Best Online Pharmacy Technician Schools & Certification Programs

Explore the best schools with online pharmacy technician programs and what they consist of. Learn how long online pharmacy tech programs take, how to pay for them, and what to expect after graduation.

Top Online Pharmacy Technician Schools

When determining the best schools for an online pharmacy technician program, you should consider flexibility, accreditation, cost and program length. Several of the best schools with online pharmacy technician programs are listed below.

1. Ultimate Medical Academy-Clearwater

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Clearwater, FL $26,660 99%

Ultimate Medical Academy-Clearwater is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and offers a fully online associate's degree program in health sciences-pharmacy technician. The program consists of 61.5 credit hours and 1080 hours of supervised practice. Instructors and career services staff work with students to ensure they are prepared for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) as well as future interviews and careers. All students in the program have a tuition rate of $450 per credit hour, and total program cost (including books) is estimated at $27,675.

2. Allen County Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Iola, KS $3,808 86%

Allen County Community College has one of the lowest tuition rates for pharmacy technicians, with all students paying $60 per credit hour (which includes textbook rental). The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and its pharmacy technician programs can be completed entirely online. The Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technician program consists of 60 credit hours and includes courses in psychology, customer service, nutrition, pharmacology and human relations. The Pharmacy Technician Certificate program consists of 31 credit hours and includes courses in pharmacology, medical terminology and customer service.

3. North Dakota State College of Science

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Wahpeton, ND $5,132 93%

North Dakota State College of Science is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers a pharmacy technician certificate and associate's degree program online. The certificate program consists of 44 credit hours while the Associate in Applied Science program consists of 68 credit hours. Both programs require students to complete an 8-week internship at the end of their program. North Dakota residents have a tuition rate of $140 per credit hour, while out-of-state residents have a tuition rate of $157 to $168 per credit hour.

4. Hutchinson Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Hutchinson, KS $3,200 92%

Hutchinson Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and its pharmacy technician programs are accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. The school offers an online Pharmacy Technician Certificate program that includes practical experiences in hospital and community settings. The program includes courses in pharmacy laws, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacology and pharmaceutical safety. Regular in-state students have a tuition rate of $114 per credit hour while out-of-state students have a tuition rate of $145 per credit.

5. State Fair Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Sedalia, MO $3,000 91%

State Fair Community College has been fully accredited since 1976 and is currently accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school offers online pharmacy technician programs for a skills certificate (18 credits), professional certificate (30 credits) and an Associate of Applied Science in Health Care Specialist with an emphasis in Pharmacy Technician (61.5 credits). The skills certificate prepares students for entry-level positions while the professional certificate and AAS programs increase student knowledge and employability. Students have tuition rates of $165 to $280 per credit hour, depending on their state of residency (discounted tuition for in-district and in-state students).

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Minnesota West Community and Technical College Granite Falls, MN $5,692 90%
7 Casper College Casper, WY $3,072 93%
8 Miles Community College Miles City, MT $5,550 87%
9 Southwestern Oregon Community College Coos Bay, OR $6,077 91%
10 Barton County Community College Great Bend, KS $3,584 91%
11 The University of Montana Missoula, MT $7,244 89%
12 Saint Paul College Saint Paul, MN $5,561 88%
13 Sinclair Community College Dayton, OH $4,004 81%
14 Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte, NC $2,795 65%
15 Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland, OH $4,322 85%
16 North Central State College Mansfield, OH $3,998 90%
17 Kirtland Community College Roscommon, MI $5,880 95%
18 University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage, AK $8,580 82%
19 Four County Career Center Archbold, OH $525 - $8,500 N/A

All table data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition represents the 2018-2019 school year.

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Pharmacy Technician Programs

Online pharmacy technician programs are usually offered in two formats, certificate and degree, and can include online coursework and clinical practice. While both of these programs prepare students for positions as pharmacy technicians, graduates of associate's degree programs have a deeper understanding of regulations, operations and requirements of the field.

  • Certificate Programs: Certificate programs provide students with a foundational knowledge of several topics relating to pharmacy technician roles. These programs can consist of between 15 and 45 credit hours and take 1 to 3 or more semesters. While many of these programs can be completed online, some include practical requirements as part of the curriculum.
  • Associate's Degree: Associate's degree programs usually take around two years to complete and include courses found in certificate programs as well as additional topics pertaining to pharmacy procedures and roles. Students may complete between 60 and 70 credit hours in these programs, often with some number of clinical hours prior to graduation.

Common Courses

While specific courses vary by school, most online pharmacy technician programs include some of the courses listed below.

  • Pharmacology - examines various medications used in pharmacies, including names, side effects, dosages, potential interactions and specific uses.
  • Medical Terminology - students learn various medical terms, including root words, suffixes and prefixes, in order to better understand patient information in pharmacy technician roles.
  • Pharmacy Technician Fundamentals - explores pharmacy technician roles and responsibilities as well as computer applications and skills necessary for working in a pharmacy.
  • Communication - students learn effective interpersonal communication skills, which include verbal and nonverbal communication, to prepare to provide professional customer service.
  • General Psychology - provides an introductory exploration of psychology theories and topics, including human development and behaviors.
  • Pharmacy Regulations - explores government laws and ethical considerations in pharmacy operations, including patient privacy and confidentiality.
  • Calculations of Pharmaceuticals - provides an overview of proper calculation methods for determining appropriate amounts of ingredients in pharmaceuticals.
  • Pharmaceutical Safety - students learn about the side effects and interactions of commonly used drugs and classes of drugs.

Practical Requirements

Many online pharmacy technician programs involve some practical requirements, in order to give students the opportunity to practice program objectives. Depending on the program, students may be required to complete around 200 hours of supervised practice. These hours may be completed in hospitals or pharmacies, under the direct supervision of licensed pharmacists.

Why Accreditation Matters for Online Pharmacy Technician Programs

Online pharmacy technician students should know about two types of accreditation: programmatic and institutional. Programmatic accreditation applies to specific programs. The only accrediting organization for pharmacy technician programs is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Although graduating from a program that is accredited by ASHP may help graduates with obtaining employment (compared to those who haven't), it isn't generally a hard requirement for pharmacy technician positions.

However, some credentials require you to attend an approved program. For instance, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) requires candidates to have attended a PTCB-approved program to get the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) credential.

Institutional accreditation affects entire schools, showing that they have met quality and outcome criteria set by the accrediting organization. Schools can be accredited by dozens of organizations, either regional or national. Attending an accredited school should indicate that students receive better experiences, and it is required for students to qualify for federal student aid.

Choosing the Right Online Pharmacy Technician Program

When choosing a school for an online pharmacy technician program, there are several factors that you should consider.

Programs Offered

The first consideration when choosing a school is what programs they offer online. You may prefer a certificate or an associate's degree, but schools may only offer one of these online. Certificate programs are more commonly offered online, but many schools also offer degree programs.

Practical Requirements

As noted above, some pharmacy technician programs require students to complete practice hours. These practice hours may be completed throughout a program or at the end of a program, and may be confined to specific locations or allow students to select more convenient locations.

Flexibility

You may prefer a part-time program or a full-time program, but some pharmacy technician tracks are only available as one or the other. Consult with your admissions advisors to see if the programs that you're considering are offered in the format that you need.

Cost

The cost of online pharmacy technician programs vary by school and student, but typically include tuition and other direct program fees (such as course materials). Tuition is typically charged per credit hour, so longer programs generally have a higher total cost.

Financial Aid & Scholarships for Online Pharmacy Technician Students

Students interested in obtaining financial aid for their online pharmacy technician programs should first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is free to use and shows some of the types of aid that students can qualify for. Students can also find scholarships through various sources, such as the U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop and their chosen school.

Scholarships

There are countless scholarships available to students that can be obtained based on factors such as grade point average, community involvement, gender and area of study.

The GoodRx Pharmacy Innovation Scholarship

This scholarship awards $1,000 to 10 students who are enrolled in pharmacy or pharmacy technician programs and boast a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Sweet & Simple Scholarship

One scholarship of $1,500 is awarded to a student enrolled in an accredited college or university, based on a submitted essay of fewer than 250 words.

Hylan Family Scholarship

Students interested in this $2,500 scholarship are required to submit a 500- to 750-word essay about a transformative life experience.

Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. Scholarship Program

Students who have witnessed a family member or close friend lose their battle to cancer can apply for this scholarship, which awards three students $2,000 to $5,000 each.

Defense Against Distracted Driving Scholarship

One $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a student based on a submitted 500- to 1,000-word essay who has a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Work-Study

Work study programs involve students working part-time while in school to earn a part or all of their program costs. Work study is offered by some schools as well as some employers.

Student Loans

Student loans can be obtained from the government or private lenders. Government student loans are income-based and offer flexible repayment plans, some as long as thirty years.

Loan Forgiveness

Some graduates may qualify for loan forgiveness through their loan issuer or through their employer. Many employers offer loan repayment incentives to new and existing employees.

Certification Requirements for Pharmacy Technicians

Although certification isn't required in all states, many employers prefer candidates who are certified. Pharmacy technicians can obtain certification through two organizations:

  • The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board - in order to earn PTCB certification, candidates should have at least a high school diploma, attend a PTCB-approved training program and pass the applicable exam.
  • National Healthcareer Association - candidates need either 1 or more years of work experience or to have graduated from a pharmacy technician program to qualify for the NHA certification.

Pharmacy technicians also need to complete continuing education credits to renew their certificates every few years and to stay up to date on practices, regulations and medications.

Careers for Online Pharmacy Technician Graduates

Graduates of online pharmacy technician programs are prepared for roles as pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists dispensing medications to practitioners and patients. Their duties can include collecting patient information, packaging prescriptions, measuring medications when filling prescriptions, organizing inventory and processing monetary transactions. Pharmacy technicians may also process insurance for prescriptions, answer phones and arrange for pharmacists to meet with customers. Pharmacy technicians who work in hospitals and other large healthcare facilities may be responsible for more tasks, including dispensing medications to various patients throughout the hospital.

In 2018, over half of all pharmacy technicians worked in pharmacies and other drug stores, while the rest worked in hospitals, food and beverage stores and general merchandise stores. A breakdown of employment, earnings and estimated job growth by industry is shown in the table below.

Industry % Employed Median Annual Salary (2018)Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Pharmacies and Drug Stores 52% $30,470 6%
Hospitals; State, Local and Private 17% $37,390 4%
Food and Beverage Stores 8% $60,640 13%
General Merchandise Stores 8% $31,450 0%
All Industries 100% $32,700 7%

All salary and outlook data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Advancement: Pharmacist

Some pharmacy technicians may choose to continue their education and become pharmacists. Pharmacists need to have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and state licensure, as well as experience from related work and doctoral residency. In 2018, pharmacists had a median annual salary of $126,120, with the highest-earning 10% making over $161,250.