Earning an Online Pharmacy Bachelor's Degree
Medications help patients overcome illness and improve their quality of life, which is why pharmacy technicians are so important. Earning a bachelor's degree or completing a pharmacy technician training online program opens the door to exciting careers in the medical field. This guide offers information on affordable schools in this field, possible career options after graduation, and common courses to expect as part of a rigorous pharmaceutical sciences curriculum. By reading on, you can learn about available careers, including salary expectations or continuing education requirements, and organizations that can provide career mentors and additional guidance.
Overview of Pharmacy Degrees
Many illnesses require treatment with medication. Drug treatment helps patients live longer lives with better quality of life, including the cough medicine that makes cold and flu season a bit more tolerable and more powerful drugs that fight cancer or that help control high blood pressure. Pharmaceutical scientists and pharmacists develop these life-sustaining treatments and distribute them to their patients. Regulatory agencies also need individuals who understand these processes. They may also seek work in cosmetic development to cultivate new skin care regimens or makeup for individuals with sensitive skin.
The study of pharmacy combines chemistry and biology with an understanding of human anatomy and physiology. Depending on your career path, you may complete an internship in a pharmacy under the direction of certified technicians and pharmacists, work in a lab developing new medications or new uses for existing medicine, or analyze patient biological samples to help diagnose and treat conditions.
Employment demand remains strong across industries, as advances in research bring more treatments to the market for an aging population. Ideal students possess a curiosity about how illnesses progress and how medication can stop or alter that progression. They need an analytical mindset and an eye for detail.
Many students begin considering their college applications during their senior year of high school by completing forms, taking college entrance exams, and applying for financial aid. Many schools require applicants to complete a rigorous high school curriculum, including eight semesters or math and English; lab science courses in chemistry, biology, engineering, or health science; social studies; and a foreign language.
Students who plan to return to school following a break in their education should contact their high school and any postsecondary schools to obtain transcripts of completed coursework. Many schools use the Common Application, which allows students to apply to multiple schools without completing repetitive forms. It also tracks a student's progress with each school's admission requirements to ensure they submit all documents by stated deadlines.
Application requirements vary from school to school. Potential students should become familiar with the required forms and any necessary essays or recommendations. Acceptance to many schools may be a highly competitive process, so students should use the composition prompts and community involvement to set themselves apart from other applicants. Some schools may also require students to have some college experience or work experience before enrolling in pharmacy technician classes online.
What Will I Learn?
While credit requirements vary from school to school, students should expect to earn approximately 120 credits for a bachelor's degree. The course requirements include a combination of general education classes in history and English, as well as coursework in chemistry, drug development, and scientific writing. Approximately 40 credits focus on pharmacy courses, in addition to about 20 elective credits and the balance in general education and prerequisite classes.
Pharmacy combines multiple disciplines, so students should expect their program to offer an interdisciplinary approach. Many schools provide electives or minors that allow students to tailor their education to specific career goals. Learners should work closely with academic advisers to craft their curriculum and may need to arrange for internship locations near their home to satisfy experiential learning requirements.
Some programs require completion of a capstone project that demonstrates the critical thinking and analytical skills developed throughout the program. Many students need four years to complete a bachelor's degree, but part-time students should plan on additional time.
This course covers the basics of biochemistry, beginning with the structure of cells. Students learn about cell architecture and the role of amino acids, proteins, and peptides. Coursework also discusses how cells reproduce and the role of genetic material or how various diseases can impact that process.Immunology
The body's different cells each assist in fighting illness and repairing damage from injury. Immunology explores the structure and function of molecules to include antibodies and T-cell receptors. Course literature also examines how these molecules can complicate treatment, such as heightened immune response in allergies, transplantation, or autoimmune disorders.Drug Classes and Mechanisms
Pharmacists organize medications according to how they work in the body, such as blocking inflammation response or regulating how the brain receives certain chemicals. This course also covers how nutrition or exercise can impact drug therapy in addition to recognizing signs of toxicity in patients.Drug Discovery and Development
New drugs follow a highly regulated route from discovery to market. Developers must show that drugs meet safety standards and provide effective treatment. This course also covers the ethical and scientific challenges of developing clinical trials and the role of the Federal Drug Administration in approving new medications and treatments.Anatomy and Physiology
This course offers a comprehensive review of the structure and function of all organ systems in the body, including muscle function, the nervous system, skeletal system, and endocrine system. Students learn how the systems work together to maintain overall human health. The curriculum includes anatomical terminology and discussion of tools used to study each system.Intercultural and Global Health Issues
Students evaluate issues of global health delivery and efficacy with an emphasis on evidence-based public health interventions, the impact of health systems on the economy, or the effect of environmental regulations on citizen health. The curriculum considers issues of gender or ethnic health disparity, as well as efforts at disease eradication and mass vaccination.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Pharmacy?
An online pharmacy technician school prepares graduates to launch their careers as pharmacy technicians or assistants, gaining hands-on experience in the field before continuing to graduate school. The critical-thinking skills and technical, scientific knowledge gained through the bachelor's degree curriculum also sets graduates on a path to a variety of roles within the pharmaceutical industry, such as a sales representative, technical writer, or benefits manager. Learn about the core skills you need to succeed and potential career paths below.
Schools offering pharmacy technician training online or bachelor's degrees in pharmacy ensure that students will gain the essential skills to begin their careers with an emphasis on drug development, prescribing, and distribution.
While students gain an understanding of these subjects, they also develop the attention to detail ecessary to perform their duties and ensure patient safety. They should confirm that a pharmacy's customers receive the correct prescriptions in the proper form and dose, fielding any questions patients may have and referring them to the pharmacist for advice or consultations. Graduates should possess the ability to juggle multiple tasks while maintaining accuracy in counting and matching orders to medications.
Biological, medical, and pharmaceutical jobs all rely on technology, including standard office applications like those in the Microsoft Office suite, software for tracking pharmacy inventory, and database applications to organize data. Laboratory or medical development roles require the ability to design complex experiments and collect relevant data, in addition to interpreting and analyzing results. Graduates learn to communicate complex information or theories to the general public, medical providers, company executives, or government regulators.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Students seeking a career in the pharmaceutical field find work in commercial or community pharmacies, biological or medical laboratories, and within the pharmaceutical industry. Your career goals will determine the online pharmacy technician school or undergraduate program you select. Pharmacy technicians or pharmacy assistants interact directly with customers, process insurance or pharmacy benefit information, and ensure proper inventory controls. Job demand remains strong for these positions, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 12% increase in job openings in job openings through 2026.
An undergraduate degree in pharmaceutical science also prepares students for jobs in drug development, marketing, and sales. The program also provides graduates with the technical expertise to write documentation for regulatory agencies or summarize information from drug trials for physicians or company executives. Laboratory training, in addition to biological and chemical courses, also prepares students for jobs as medical technologists who analyze biological samples and develop lab reports. The careers below offer examples of what this degree and certification lead to, but students should explore opportunities throughout the biomedical industry.
Pharmacy technicians provide front-line customer service to pharmacy clients, collecting patient billing information and inputting prescription information into pharmacy management systems. Technicians often prepare medication for dispensing under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist and ensure proper inventory controls for drug stock.
$31,750 per year
Pharmacy assistants work under the supervision of licensed pharmacists and assist in dispensing medication and preparing patient labels. They often take on clerical duties within a commercial pharmacy, processing insurance information or maintaining patient files. They may field patient questions or refer them to the pharmacist for more in-depth discussion.
$39,928 per year
Technical writers communicate complex processes or procedures through written reports. This career combines the technical knowledge gained in a pharmaceutical sciences course with the creativity and language skills developed through writing classes. They must adhere to strict regulations regarding the language used in drug documentation and marketing materials.
$58,308 per year
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Pharmacy?
A bachelor's online pharmacy technician program prepares graduates to enter the pharmaceutical field taking on many entry-level duties. The chemistry and biology curriculum prepares students to work in industrial or commercial settings. These jobs offer intellectually challenging, financially rewarding opportunities and room for advancement when coupled with hands-on experience. Often, pharmacy technicians advance through professional development and certifications. They may take on teaching roles with career training institutes, as well.
Many students, however, may determine they need additional education to move up to mid-level jobs or take on leadership roles within their organization. Since most states require a graduate degree to become a licensed pharmacist, advanced training remains essential for clinical or research functions. They may also find that advanced training in business management, accounting, or marketing will open doors to executive positions. Many of the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills gained in their undergraduate degree provide a strong foundation for this advanced study.
Accreditation for Pharmacy Bachelor's Programs
The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) serves as an independent organization for the quality of professional degrees in pharmacy and pharmacy technician training online programs. While this accreditation remains vital for individuals seeking certification or licensure as a pharmacist, ACPE does not accredit undergraduate pharmacy programs. Students should instead look at a school's institutional accreditation. Attending an accredited university ensures that students can continue their education at the graduate level and provides employers the assurance that students have completed a rigorous undergraduate curriculum.
Colleges and universities may seek accreditation from regional or national organizations such as the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. While not government agencies, accreditation councils must meet regulations for uniformly evaluating academic requirements, facilities, and student performance, with recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Only schools identified by these agencies qualify for federal student aid payments. Students should check with CHEA and the ED to verify their selected schools' accreditation status.
Pharmacy Professional Organizations
Professional organizations provide aspiring pharmaceutical professionals with a network of peers and mentors to call upon for advice and guidance. These organizations also offer opportunities to take on leadership positions and gain professional recognition. The pharmacy professional can change dramatically as new drugs enter the market or as state and federal lawmakers enact reforms or new legislation, such as efforts to combat opioid abuse or to control access to pseudoephedrine. Professional organizations keep their members up to date through newsletters and journals, conferences, and continuing education courses.
Members enjoy reduced registration fees at the association's annual meeting. Access to four journals and free professional development webinars ensures members stay up to date on industry advancements. AAPS members advance in the field through their networking events, in addition to employment opportunities and mentorships.
The association provides professional development and continuing education opportunities, in addition to connecting with more than 62,000 pharmaceutical professionals. The association also provides job boards and a career center. Its advocacy efforts promote the pharmacy profession and work to improve patient safety through legislation or community education.
Founded in 1898, this organization serves more than 22,000 community pharmacies, with an emphasis on small businesses, franchises, and regional chains. NCPA works with lawmakers to develop protocol and responses to public health issues such as the opioid addiction crisis. Education also includes marketing campaigns and customer service training.