The Best Accredited Online Pharmacy Technician Programs

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Pharmacy technicians form the backbone of any pharmacy. While pharmacists get a lot of the attention and credit, it’s usually the pharmacy technician who does the bulk of the work, including processing and filling prescriptions, measuring medication amounts and organizing inventory. As a result, serving as a pharmacy technician carries a lot of responsibility that necessitates specialized training. Want to learn more about how you can become a pharmacy tech? Start with these frequently asked questions about the process, and learn how to earn your degree online.

Top 10 The Best Accredited Online Pharmacy Technician Programs

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Best Pharmacy Technician Programs 2018-2019


  • Methodology


    Methodology

    For this year’s college rankings, our analysts carefully reviewed statistical data from multiple sources for more than 7,500 postsecondary institutions so that you could easily evaluate schools based on what matters most to you. For each school, we applied the eligibility criteria outlined below, then ranked schools and programs based on four ranking factors.

    Eligibility Criteria for All Postsecondary Institutions:

    • Must be a not-for-profit institution
    • Must be regionally or nationally accredited
    • Must offer at least one online program1
    • Must be located in a state (schools in US territories and Washington DC were not considered)

    Ranking Factors:

    Dozens of data points were used to calculate a weighted score for four ranking factors: quality, affordability, flexibility and program (in order of significance). To determine quality, which was the most important consideration for all AS Online rankings, the most impactful data points were acceptance and graduation rates; for affordability, tuition2 and grants; for flexibility, part-time enrollment offerings; and for program, degrees conferred in that program area.

    Data Sources:

    How to Read Our Rankings Tool:

    • A dash indicates IPEDS data was not available
    • Annual in-state tuition is displayed unless stated otherwise


    1 Our Best Vocational Programs rankings included data for both online and campus programs.

    2 Both annual in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our Rankings Tool currently only displays annual in-state rates.


Deciding among the best accredited online pharmacy technology programs can be a bit subjective. Some students will prefer extra attention from their professors while others will need to keep tuition costs as low as possible. Still others may prefer a school in a particular location, since that’s where they want to work after graduating. Because of this, it’s easy to see how certain factors must be considered when deciding on the best program. Therefore, the following ranking doesn’t just list schools that are the best; it also provides information about the various factors prospective pharmacy technology students might heavily consider when choosing a school.

  1. Central Louisiana Technical Community College
    Location

    Alexandria, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, Central Louisiana Technical College offers work-ready programs for students looking to gain the technical skills needed to quickly enter the workforce. The college's pharmacy technician certificate program is designed with these goals in mind as well. Students can complete the certificate in as few as 9 months by completing 2 semesters of 29 credit hours of coursework. The coursework includes classroom and lab instruction on the college's Ferriday campus and supervised clinical externships where students will work with preceptors from various sites, such as hospitals, retail pharmacies and community sites, to fulfill the clinical certification requirements. The program begins in the fall semester, which begins in August, and concludes with the spring semester in May. Courses students can expect to take include introduction to computers, pharmacy technician fundamentals, pharmacology and professionalism for the pharmacy technician. The college prides itself on providing innovative training and instruction and strives to increase the community's awareness of their educational offerings. The college provides both state and federal financial aid opportunities, and several scholarships are available specifically to Central Louisiana Technical College students, such as the Brian Caubarreaux Do It Right Scholarship and the Horatio Alger National Career and Technical Scholarship.

  2. Altierus Career College
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Altierus Career College's pharmacy technician program offers a streamlined approach for students who wish to enter a career in pharmacy quickly. Their 8-month program has a flexible structure that allows students take courses 3 days per week in a blended format through on-campus and online courses. Students complete 48 credit hours by taking general courses in subjects such as health care, ethics of pharmacy, pharmacology, pharmacy operations in retail and hospital settings, and medical calculations. Because of the industry requirement of hands-on clinical experience, the program also requires a clinical externship where students can put their coursework into practice. Enrollment is ongoing, so students who have completed high school and an academic assessment administered by Altierus can enroll any month of the year. The curriculum is also designed to prepare graduates for industry certification. Financial aid is available to qualifying students, and the Zenith Student Grant has a multimillion-dollar pool of funding to award to students of Altierus in financial need. Altierus also provides personalized academic support through coaching, confidence-building interview preparation and job search assistance. Altierus is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

  3. North Seattle College
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    North Seattle College's pharmacy technician program makes it easy for anyone with compassion and strong communication skills to enter into a career as a pharmacy technician. Students who have successfully completed intro-level math and English courses can enroll into this program to quickly launch themselves into a career in pharmacy. The established Pharmacy Technician Certificate program, which started in the 1980s, consists of 53 credit hours and takes 9 months to complete. The program offers hands-on externship experiences that often end up placing the student in a full-time position with their externship site upon graduation. Cohorts begin every September, and the program is run by experienced pharmacy professionals. The first quarter includes intense lecture courses, and the second and third quarters involve a combination of on-campus coursework 2 days a week and externship placements at sites such as retail locations, community sites and hospital pharmacies where students will put their skills into action and interact directly with patients. The coursework leads to the national certifications needed to work as a pharmacy technician, and 99.6% of North graduates pass their exam. Because of the 432 hours of externship experience (as opposed to the minimum requirement of 200 hours of clinical experience), North graduates are even more prepared for the workforce. In the Seattle-Bellevue metro area, entry-level positions can range from $15.48 per hour to $26.21 per hour with additional experience. The certificate program at North is accredited by the Washington State Board of Pharmacy and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

  4. Hutchinson Community College
    Location

    Hutchinson, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Students at Hutchinson Community College can earn a pharmacy technician certificate in 3 semesters of full-time study. Many of the courses are available in an entirely online format, but students are required to attend an on-campus lab each semester they are enrolled in the program. Online courses are self-directed and can be completed at a student's own pace. Students learn theory, gain hands-on experience and work in clinical settings throughout their path in the Pharmacy Technician Certificate program. They may also choose to take an extra series of 2 classes offered in the program that focus on developing customer service skills. In order to earn their certificate in pharmacy technology from Hutchinson, students must sit for the national Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). On-campus, students can access the Rimmer Learning Resource Center for free tutoring, supplemental instruction, library access and online resources. The Student Success Center provides access to free career counseling and personal counseling as well as academic resources that students can explore. Pharmacy technology students are eligible for a range of institutional scholarships to help pay for their certificate program, all available through a single application form. Financial aid advisors are available to answer questions about financial aid. Hutchinson also assigns academic advisors to help students plan out their academic and career goals and to assist with clarifying transfer credit information if a student wants to apply previous credit toward their certificate or degree.

  5. Lakeshore Technical College
    Location

    Cleveland, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Lakeshore Technical College Pharmacy Technician Diploma program is offered in an online format at technical colleges across the state of Wisconsin as well as on-campus at Lakeshore's Cleveland, Wisconsin, campus. The program, accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, can be completed in 2 semesters as a full-time student or in 3-4 semesters as a part-time student. Students are required to engage with clinical settings in a 16-week internship program and can choose to focus completely on community and retail pharmacies or to receive training in a community pharmacy and a hospital pharmacy. Online students will experience live, interactive video classes and be placed in local internships while taking general studies classes at their local technical college. Through a partnership with the pharmacy software vendor PioneerRX, Lakeshore's online program provides students with interactive tools that simulate daily pharmacy workflows and tasks. Students in the pharmacy technician program are eligible for financial aid to pay for their diploma program. There are online career resources available to students on Lakeshore's Career Coach website and academic tutoring, career coaching and career placement resources available through student support services. Credits from Lakeshore's programs are transferable to over 30 universities, and some Lakeshore programs may accept credit for prior learning. Lakeshore also offers an Employed Pharmacy Technician certificate for pharmacy technicians who have received prior training on the job. Because these students already have developed their practical skills, this 1-semester certificate program focuses on pharmacy technician theory to prepare graduates for the national Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).

  6. North Dakota State College of Science
    Location

    Wahpeton, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    North Dakota State College of Science offers a 1-year certificate or a 2-year associate degree program in pharmacy technology. Along with learning the practical skills to be pharmacy technicians, students take courses in communications, writing, psychology and speech to further advance their careers in this field. Both programs also require students to complete 2 community and health care facility-based internships to develop their understanding of the duties of a pharmacy technician. Each internship lasts 4 weeks and is taken at the end of the program. Graduates are prepared to become nationally certified and can register with the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy. Students in either program have the option to complete their program in several ways; students can take courses fully online, attend the program on-campus at NDSCS-Wahpeton or attend general education classes at Bismarck State College, or take technical classes from NDSCS faculty through online classes. It is also possible for students to take their general education courses at the NDSCS-Fargo campus while taking the technical pharmacy technology courses online. The college offers merit-based and program-specific scholarships as well as federal, state and college-based financial aid to students. Active duty veterans, National Guards or Reservists, and dependents of veterans are eligible for military benefits at NDSCS and can earn their pharmacy technology associate degree in a fully online format. They may also receive academic credit for previous experience and skills that are applicable in this field.

  7. Pickens Technical College
    Location

    Aurora, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Students can earn a certificate in pharmacy technology in 5 months of on-campus study at Pickens Technical College. Graduates from this program are qualified to work in retail or mail-order pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes or assisted living centers. To earn credit toward their program, students can provide an account of previous education, work experience, training or any other informal education in pharmacy technology. Military veterans can also submit their Joint Services Transcript, and Pickens Tech may award credit toward the certificate program. The college provides several other military benefits to active duty military personnel and veterans, such as resident tuition rates for members of the military who move to Colorado on a permanent-change-of-station basis. The Pharmacy Technician Certificate program, accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, prepares students to take the Pharmacy Technical Certificate Board Exam at the end of the program if they wish to do so. All students have access to career advising services and resources through Pickens Tech. There are a range of scholarships available to students; however, Pickens Tech does not offer student loans. Academic credits earned at Pickens Tech can be applied toward other higher degrees, and the college has a special partnership with the Community College of Aurora. Pharmacy technology students who earn their certificate at Pickens Tech can continue general education courses and go on to complete other requirements at the Community College of Aurora to earn their Associate of Applied Science degree or Associate of General Studies degree in pharmacy technology from this college.

  8. University of Montana
    Location

    Missoula, MT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    TheUniversity of Montana offers students a hybrid program to pursue a Certificate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology. The 2-semester program incorporates online courses and hands-on learning opportunities in UM-Missoula's pharmacy lab at the River Campus. Applicants must demonstrate college-level skills in writing, math and computers as part of their application process. Accepted students are expected to register as Pharmacy Technicians in Training with the state of Montana while attending the program. Graduates must sit for the national Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) in order to earn their certificate from this college. UM-Missoula provides a range of support services for students, including an academic advising center and workshops to develop study skills and learning strategies. The college also participates in TRIO Student Support Services, a federally funded program that provides services to increase college graduation for eligible students who are seeking their first undergraduate degree and are either low-income or first-generation college students. Students can also take advantage of UM-Missoula's financial aid services to help pay for their pharmacy technology certificate program. Financial aid opportunities include scholarships based on skill or academic potential that individual departments can award to students. UM-Missoula offers additional student support services, including career services, a writing center, disability services and academic advising. Veterans can use their military benefits while attending this college, such as education benefits for degree and certificate programs under the Montgomery G.I. Bill program.

  9. Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Campus
    Location

    Roswell, NM

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Campus offers students the opportunity to earn a Certificate of Employability in Pharmacy Technician through a 1-year program. The program, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, culminates in a preceptorship in a pharmacy in the final spring semester. Graduates are prepared to take either the national Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) or the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT). As certified pharmacy technicians, students will be qualified to work in retail pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities and compounding pharmacies. While enrolled at ENMU-Roswell, pharmacy technician students can benefit from individual academic and career support services, job interview and resume skills development workshops, networking opportunities and job placement support through the federally fundedSUN PATH program. SUN PATH is designed to assist veterans and their spouses and ESL, GED and Developmental Education students in particular. ENMU-Rowell also offers TRIO Student Support Services for low-income or first-generation college students seeking an undergraduate degree. Eligible students can access resources to help them transition into, stay enrolled in and graduate from college. ENMU-Roswell provides financial aid and scholarship resources to any student who has the financial need, including undocumented students. Students who submit their FAFSA can apply federal loans to fund their pharmacy technician certificate as well as state grants and scholarships. Veterans and members of the military can find resources on funding their education at ENMU-Roswell using their military benefits.

  10. Traviss Technical College
    Location

    Lakeland, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Ridge Technical College is a part of Polk County Public Schools' Education Pathways programs for adult learners who are seeking career training in Florida's Polk County. The pharmacy technician program at Ridge Technical College is a year-long program with on-campus instruction. This is not a residential college; instead, students can take the required courses in Ridge Technical College's classrooms during the day or in the evening, depending on their schedule. Students in the pharmacy technician program also gain practical experience in the college's campus lab setting in Winter Haven, Florida. In addition to developing an understanding of the practical techniques and duties of pharmacy technicians, students learn about a range of topics within the health care industry, including finance, labor issues, technical and production skills, and community health issues. Graduates of the pharmacy technician program are prepared to take the national Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). After registering with the Board of Pharmacy, graduates are then eligible to work in hospitals, clinics or retail pharmacies. Of the students at Ridge Technical College, 90% qualify for financial aid after filling out the FAFSA. Some career programs may also qualify for Veterans' benefits, and Ridge Technical College has a Financial Aid Fee Revenue Scholarship available for students. Financial aid coordinators can help students through the process of applying for financial aid. In addition, career assessment and counseling resources are open to all students to help direct their educational and career path choices at Ridge Technical College.

FAQs About The Online Pharmacy Tech Degree

FEATURED ONLINE PROGRAM 

Pharmacy Technician

With Penn Foster Career School’s Pharmacy Technician training program you will get the training that will help you on your path towards working closely with pharmacists in providing medication and health care products to patients. Whether you’ll work for a retail pharmacy, local druggist, grocery store, or hospital, you’ll be an important part of a rewarding profession. Our program is convenient, affordable, accredited, and led by leading faculty. Since there is no set class schedule, you study at a time, location, and pace that works for you.

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How Much Do Pharmacy Technicians Make?

The exact compensation a pharmacy technician can expect will depend on where they work and their level of experience. Generally, pharmacy technicians will make more money in a hospital than a retail pharmacy. However, the level of experience can play a significant role in expected salary as well. To give a broad overview of what pharmacy technicians can make, check out the chart below.

OCCUPATIONMEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: ENTRY-LEVELMEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: MID-LEVELMEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: LATE-CAREER
Certified Pharmacy Technician$29,513$34,796$43,232
Senior Certified Pharmacy Technician$35,425$41,250$41,731
Pharmacy Technician SupervisorN/A$49,025N/A
Retail Pharmacy Tech$27,186$30,580$44,449

Source: Payscale

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Explore Online Degree Programs to Become a Pharmacy Technician

What Online Degree Do I Need To Become A Pharmacy Tech?

To be competitive in the job market, an individual must earn either a certificate or associate degree in pharmacy technology. While the associate degree isn’t required to become a pharmacy technician or sit for the certification exam, it does provide a broader educational background that may open more professional growth opportunities, including a future in teaching or management.

The opportunity for specialization is possible with specific courses and certifications offered by the National Pharmacy Technician Association in areas such as compounding and chemo. These certifications can also be obtained through coursework available within formal pharmacy technology programs.

  • Associate Degree

    An associate degree takes approximately two years to complete and is commonly found at community colleges. Not everyone who wants to be a pharmacy technician will pursue this level, since it takes more time and money to complete than a certificate. However, it does provide a well-rounded education and increases the chances for future growth or a shift into another career, such as teaching. Students enrolled in an online associate degree program can expect to take some of the following courses:

    • Pharmacy Law

      Students learn the array of rules, regulations and laws that apply to the dispensing and handling of pharmaceutical drugs.

    • Introduction to Pharmacy Mathematics

      Teaches the mathematical concepts needed to calculate dosages and complete compounding tasks in a pharmacy.

    • Pharmacy Basics

      Discusses all aspects of the pharmacy technician field, including certification requirements, ethical considerations and legal responsibilities.

    Pharmacy Tech Careers with an Associate Degree

    Pharmacy Technician

    Job Outlook: 12 percent growth

    Career and Technical Education Teachers

    Job Outlook: 4 percent growth

    Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technician

    Job Outlook: 14 percent growth

    Source: (2016–2026 growth data from BLS)

  • Certificates

    Certificate or diploma programs are popular for future pharmacy technicians. Typically taking about 18 months to complete, the curriculums in a certificate program and associate degree program are similar, except the general education requirements are not included. Because a degree isn’t necessary for certification, a certificate is sufficient for either type of pharmacy technician certification available in the United States. A sample of a certificate program’s curriculum is below:

    • Pharmacology

      Provides an overview of how medications interact with the human body, especially when treating diseases.

    • Pharmacy Clinical

      Real-world experience working in a pharmacy setting under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist.

    • Aseptic Technique and Compounding Sterile Preparations

      Students learn aseptic techniques and compounding sterile preparations within the applicable legal framework.

    Pharmacy Tech Careers with a Certificate

    Pharmacy Technician

    Job Outlook: 12 percent growth

    Source: (2016–2026 growth data from BLS)


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How Can I Get A Pharmacy Technician Degree Online?

Becoming a pharmacy technician involves much more than just signing up and completing a program. One of the first things prospective students should do is make sure they have the necessary qualities to succeed as a pharmacy technician and enjoy that type of work.

For example, pharmacy technicians must be extremely detail-oriented. If mistakes are made filling prescriptions, people can die. It’s also helpful to be organized and be able to multi-task. A pharmacy technician may fill numerous prescriptions while interacting with customers and answering their questions or directing their concerns to the pharmacist.

Finally, pharmacy technicians must have good listening skills. They serve as the first line of interaction between the pharmacy and the customer, so they must accurately understand the concerns and issues of those who ask questions. Assuming individuals have the qualities to succeed in the pharmacy technology field, they can move through the following steps.


  • Obtain a high school diploma or GED.

    This is a minimum requirement to achieve certification as a pharmacy technician. Time to complete: Four years.


  • Decide on a career.

    You obviously want to be a pharmacy technician, but do you have other aspirations, such as teaching, becoming a full-fledged pharmacist or going into management? If so, your educational path may be much different. Time to complete: Varies.


  • Choose an educational path.

    Most pharmacy technicians will either get an associate degree or certificate. Time to complete: Varies.


  • Assess personal and financial resources.

    How much time and money you have readily available may determine the educational path most possible for you. Time to complete: Varies.


  • Decide on a pharmacy technology program.

    Pharmacy technology programs are very popular and widely available. Because you now know your available resources, along with the career and educational paths you wish to take, you can effectively research programs and apply for the one you choose. Time to complete: Varies.


  • Confirm accreditation.

    Accreditation is critical because it ensures you will receive an education that meets certain minimum standards. Graduating from an accredited program is also important for finding a job as a pharmacy technician. Time to complete: Less than one month.


  • Review admission requirements.

    Admissions requirements will differ depending on the school and program. Students may need to take an admissions test, such as the SAT or ACT, complete essays or get letters of recommendation. Time to complete: Less than a month.


  • Register for the SAT or ACT.

    Some programs may require applicants to take the SAT or ACT. If your chosen program has this requirement, you’ll need to register for the applicable test and begin studying for it. Time to complete: Three to six months.


  • Complete admission requirements.

    If you needed to write application essays, gather letters of recommendation or complete any other requirements for admission, complete them soon so you can formally apply to your chosen pharmacy technology program. Time to complete: Less than six months.


  • Formally apply to programs.

    With any entrance exams taken and application requirements finished, now it’s time to submit your application. Time to complete: Less than a month.


  • Submit to a background check.

    Most employers will conduct background checks on employees before hiring them. Additionally, a criminal history may disqualify some individuals from becoming pharmacy technicians, such as those with certain drug offenses. Time to complete: Less than three months.


  • Apply for financial aid.

    Complete the FAFSA (also known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and see what financial aid you may be eligible for that can help pay for the cost of schooling. Time to complete: Three or more months.


  • Begin coursework.

    After you’re accepted, it’s time to hit the books. Do your very best to get good grades so you can stand out among the pharmacy technicians in your class and in the job market. Time to complete: 18 to 24 months.


  • Complete hands-on requirements.

    Though you may be enrolled in an online program, your curriculum will have in-person course requirements that test your skills and knowledge in a pharmacy setting. Time to complete: Varies.


  • Apply for certification.

    There are two certifications available; one is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the other by the National Health Career Association. Applicants may need to pay registration fees and schedule to take their exam. Time to complete: A few weeks.


  • Study for the certification exam.

    Without certification, students will face an uphill battle finding work as a pharmacy technician, so passing this exam is critical. Time to complete: Varies.


  • Begin the job hunt.

    If you made good grades, impressed your supervisors during the hands-on portions of your coursework and became certified, you should be able to find a position as a pharmacy technician. Start applying for jobs. Time to complete: Varies.


  • Comply with continuing education requirements.

    Certification must be maintained. This includes completing continuing education requirements every few years. Time to complete: Less than a month.


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Explore Online Degree Programs to Become a Pharmacy Technician

How Do I Find Accredited Online Pharmacy Tech Programs?

Choosing the best pharmacy technology program can shape your professional future. When choosing a program, consider several points, many of which have been discussed above. But there are still a few other things to think about when finding the best online program.

First, check the school’s in-person curriculum requirements. Even though students may be enrolled in an online program where most course requirements can be satisfied remotely at any time during the day, some in-person requirements are still in place. Take this travel requirement into consideration when choosing a program.

Second, check a program’s career services offerings. Graduates can find post-graduate employment without any outside help from their school, but it’s certainly a lot easier when a career services office can get you in touch with contacts at desired places of employment and provide job search advice, like resume reviews and mock interviews.

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Are There Scholarships And Grants For Pharmacy Technicians?

Scholarships and grants are desirable because they do not need to be repaid like loans do. There are literally thousands of scholarships and grants available to postsecondary students. Below is a list of some places pharmacy technology students can find scholarships specifically tailored to them.


  • Scholarships.

    Scholarships are a form of financial aid that doesn’t need to be paid back, so they are among the most desired of financial aid awards. Scholarships are usually awarded based on individual merit. This merit can include high academic performance, but might also go to students who specifically choose to study in pharmacy technology. The following is a list of resources than can help students find scholarships to pay for their pharmacy technology schooling.


  • Grants.

    Grants are like scholarships because they don’t need to be paid back. But unlike scholarships, they are usually based on financial need, not merit (although merit is sometimes a factor). To be eligible for most grants, students will usually need to apply for financial aid including the completion of the FAFSA. For more information about grants for pharmacy technology students, check out the following resources.

    • Careeronestop

      Offers a Scholarship Finder that details various financial aid opportunities, including grants, scholarships and fellowships.

    • Federal Student Aid—Federal Pell Grant

      Available to undergraduate students working toward a bachelor’s or professional degree with the primary criteria being financial need.


When choosing a school for pharmacy technology, students must make sure the program offered is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. This not only ensures graduates from the program will be able to sit for the applicable certification exam, but that students will be eligible for most financial aid offerings. Practically all financial aid awards will only be available to students who attend an accredited academic program.

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Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.


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