How to Get an Online Associate’s Degree in Pharmacy

If working in the medical field has been your dream, but you don’t like the idea of needles and dealing with patients in the exam rooms, then it’s time to consider getting an associate’s degree in pharmacy. With an associate’s degree alone, you won’t be able to become a pharmacist, but it’s definitely a great start for those who are still deciding on what they want to do for their career.

The associate’s degree program will equip students with foundational knowledge on the field. With this degree, students can move on to become a pharmacy technician at their local pharmacy. Pharmacy technicians work closely with pharmacists to get prescriptions ready for patients. Technicians are crucial in the business because it gives pharmacists more on-on-one time with patients. Pharmacists are responsible for informing patients on how to use their prescribed drugs, how often to use them, and also addressing any questions patients might have.

The pharmacy industry has been booming over the years, and is not expected to slow down any time soon. With all the upcoming Baby Boomers and current senior population, more and more people need medications prescribed by doctors. Hospitals and drug stores are constantly on a lookout for pharmacy technicians to help out.

An associate’s degree in pharmacy generally takes around two years to complete. It can be obtained at most accredited community colleges, but if you have other important responsibilities in life and require a flexible schedule for school, a distance learning program from an accredited college is a promising option to consider.

Online learning is a great alternative to traditional classroom learning because it can allow students to complete classes quicker, while taking advantage of many of the same resources as traditional classes, like tutoring or faculty assistance when needed. It does, however, requires potential students to be dedicated independent learners needing little to no hand-holding; after all, the material will be taught entirely online. With that said, you would be expected to keep track of class schedule and complete assignments on your own time. An advantage to studying online is that you can work comfortably in your pajamas, at whatever time and place is most convenient for you. Online learners must have reliable internet access, but from there, there’s plenty of freedom and flexibility. Earning an online degree can be a productive way to balance school with other obligations, such as employment.

Common Associate’s in Pharmacy Curriculum

By enrolling in the associate’s degree program in pharmacy, you can expect to learn a variety of interesting things. Not only will you get a glimpse of the medical field aspect of it, you’ll also be taking classes that are more business-oriented as well.

Some coursework you might see in your program include but are not limited to:

  • Chemistry
  • Human relations
  • Pharmaceutical calculations
  • Psychology
  • Human structure and function
  • Pharmacy inventory management

In addition to learning new material, students will also gain the following necessary skills for success in the field:

  • Medical terminology
  • Pharmacy software and equipment
  • Prescription processing
  • Pharmacy procedural skills
  • Ethics and customer service
  • Patient care skills
  • Different drugs and their uses

The list of topics for study is endless, but you can be sure that you won’t get bored in your classes! For the right person, pharmacy can be a really fulfilling and exciting career.

In addition to pharmacy-related courses, students will also have general education requirements and electives to complete, which will vary from college to college. These classes are usually not directly pharmacy related. They are designed to give students the opportunity to explore other fields while getting a well-rounded foundation of knowledge that will be useful in helping them understand real-life situations and succeed in whatever career they choose to be in. For example, students may have an introductory course in math, science, history, language, and fine arts, to name a few.

Associate’s in Pharmacy Careers

With an associate’s degree in pharmacy alone, there aren’t too many job options to choose from, unfortunately. Those who don’t proceed to earn their bachelor’s degree and higher usually work as a pharmacy technician at their local drugstore or pharmacy. Places like CVS, Target, Walgreens, and Kaiser Permanente are hiring pharmacy professionals to help process prescriptions, prepare medications, and distributing them to patients.

Salary for pharmacy technicians will vary depending on where you’re located. Those working in metropolitan areas will earn more than those in a more rural one. The pay can range anywhere from $8 an hour to $17+ an hour.

If your goal is to become a pharmacist, then higher education will be needed. The associate’s degree will provide you a general basis for what you can expect in the industry, but doesn’t delve too deeply in any particular subject. With that said, if you go on to earn your bachelor’s degree, you’ll be exposed to more of the specifics that pharmacists must know to thrive on the job. Prospective pharmacists must also earn a doctoral or professional degree after getting their bachelor’s in a related field. It sounds like a lot of schooling, but it’s still less time in school than a doctor has to invest in. After graduating, pharmacists can expect to make significantly more than pharmacy technicians. On average, they make an annual salary of $116,000.