Online Pharmacy Degree Programs
There are a variety of pharmacy jobs which you can qualify for through an online pharmacy degree program. In aggregate, these jobs offer the prospect of above-average employment growth in the years ahead, and a choice of working environments ranging from local retail outlets to large hospitals and other health care institutions. For pharmacists, there is also the prospect of median income levels which are well above the national average.
There are three major classifications of pharmacy workers:
- Pharmacy aides
- Pharmacy technicians
The following is an overview of each of these classifications, and the degrees or career training required for each.
Pharmacy aides perform basic administrative or clerical functions, such as answering phones, stocking shelves, handling transactions and updating paperwork. Often a high school diploma is enough to get a job as a pharmacy aide, if an employer that is willing to do on-the-job training.
While this is the easiest level of pharmacy work to get into from the standpoint of academic qualifications, there are a couple of drawbacks to working as a pharmacy aide. It is an hourly job which typically offers overall compensation well below the national median. In addition, job growth is expected to be negative, as many of these functions are increasingly being performed by pharmacy technicians, who provide a little bit more versatility to an employer.
While there are no set educational requirements for pharmacy technicians, many pharmacists prefer job candidates with some formal training, and some states have certification requirements. In general, the educational level is higher than for pharmacy aides. In addition to performing some of the same clerical and administrative tasks as pharmacy aides, pharmacy technicians use their additional career training to perform higher-level duties, such as helping to prepare prescriptions.
In return, pharmacy technicians typically earn more than pharmacy aides, but still are generally paid at a rate below the national median.
The big payoff in the profession comes from becoming a pharmacist. Pharmacists take ultimate responsibility for filling prescriptions, and in the process they dispense medications, counsel patients on usage, and provide feedback to doctors.
Along with these greater responsibilities comes a higher educational standard. Pharmacists are required to have a Pharm.D. degree from an accredited school. Two-to-four years of prior college experience is considered a prerequisite for acceptance into a Pharm.D. program.
In addition to the degree requirement, all states require that pharmacists be licensed. In all states, this requires passage of the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam, and in most states it also requires passage of the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam.
In return for meeting these requirements, pharmacists earn well above-average compensation levels, with a median income of $100,480 as of 2007. Given this, while starting as a pharmacy aide or technician may be a pragmatic way to get into the business quickly, taking advantage of online programs to continue education with an eye toward becoming a pharmacist would greatly enhance your earning potential.