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Pharmacy technicians are seeing lots of growth in their field. New pharmacies are popping up all over the place, including in grocery stores and even big-box retailers such as Costco. There are also pharmacies in every hospital and long-term care facilities, too. There are even mail-order pharmacies that serve to meet the needs of those suffering long-term chronic conditions.

Given this growth, the world of academia is increasing its offerings for pharmacy technicians to include online programs that can get you started in the field. Online pharmacy tech programs make advancing your education more flexible and easy than traditional campus programs while imparting all the knowledge you need to thrive.

Should You Become a Pharmacy Tech?

Before you enroll in a program and devote time and energy into a career path, it is vital to be certain that it is for you.

The life of a pharmacy tech can be quite stressful and it will require that you have extensive knowledge of both medical issues as well as the pharmaceutical products that are used to treat them. You will need to have a general working knowledge of chemistry, too, as well as continually work on expanding your knowledge of negative, and fatal, drug interactions. Then, you will need strong skills when it comes to managing and auditing the pharmacy's inventory.

If you work in a hospital, you may be called to make custom compounds for patients, or to create the proper IV medication for a surgery. Some stand-alone pharmacies also offer compounding services, and more involved pharmacy work, but that is increasingly rare.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

If you are intrigued with pharmaceuticals and wish to facilitate how patients receive their medications, you are well on your way. First, however, you will want to consider the various paths to the profession.

You can apply to a pharmacy and potentially be hired as a tech without any education beyond your high school diploma or GED. However, you will be facing a steep learning curve and your professional growth will likely be curtailed by your lack of post-secondary education. The preferred way to proceed is via a post-secondary certificate or degree.

There are many certificate programs out there that will educate you to the ways of the pharmacy. You can find a number of these programs online. A certificate program will take approximately one year, perhaps a bit less.

Alternatively, you might decide to pursue an online associates degree. Though an associates degree takes approximately one year longer than a certificate, you will end up with an educational foundation that you can build on later. For instance, if you later decide that you want to become a Pharmacist or even to pursue some other related field, such as chemistry, biology or medicine, you will already have a good deal of the prerequisite courses on your transcript.

Whether you choose an certificate or online degree program, make sure that you select the very best program available.

Selecting an Online Program

One of the first issues you will want to address when selecting an online pharmacy tech program is their accreditation. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) accredits programs, thus ensuring that they are of a standard that will provide you with the background and knowledge that you deserve from your time and energy. An accredited program will also prepare you for the professional certifying exam, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).

If you are pursuing your degree or certificate online, make sure that the program is what you are expecting in terms of its flexibility. While any online program is likely to be more flexible and accessible than a traditional campus, some are more flexible than others. The most flexible sort of program is called an asynchronous program.

Asynchronous programs allow you to log into the classroom at any time you desire. You needn't be "present" for any live chats or streaming lectures. You will need to retrieve classroom materials, but you can do that at your leisure. This will be very handy if your job is one with a variable schedule or if your children's needs disallow any regular free time.

Finally, make sure that your program includes an externship program where you can receive practical experience in the field. Some programs offer structured practicums in pharmacies that are partnered with the school. These will follow a rubric that will reinforce everything you have learned in the virtual classroom. When you have this sort of experience, you can take that into your interviews as evidence that you can apply academics to a practical working environment.

Get Started Today

Online classes are not usually restricted by the rigid semester systems that traditional campus courses are, so you can start the application process today. Seek out the very best program for you, but make sure you discuss any particular concerns with an admissions counselor. There is no time like the present, so make a new start today!


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