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Degree Overview: Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree in Pharmacy Technology

Majors Overview January 24, 2014

An Associate of Specialized Technology (A.S.T.) in pharmacy technology may not be available. Alternatively, students can be taught the skills needed to become a pharmacy technician with an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in pharmacy technology.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Programs in Pharmacy Technology

Students enrolled in an Associate of Applied Science Degree Program in Pharmacy Technology are taught how to prepare prescriptions, create and maintain patient profiles, maintain pharmacy inventories and deal with insurance issues. They also gain knowledge about the functioning of the pharmacy and how a technician assists the pharmacist, in addition to understanding the limitations and legal responsibilities of a pharmacy technician. It takes about two years to complete the pharmacy technology program.

Education Requirements

Before they can get admission, prospective students are expected to complete some high school classes in science and math and hold certification related to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In some programs, they may be required to submit to drug screening and criminal background check.


Coursework combines classroom lectures and clinical lab instruction in addition to participation in seminars and internships as they get trained to perform a productive role in the pharmacy team. Prospective pharmacy techs are taught specialized skills, such as the accurate measurement of medication, aimed at the effective performance of a pharmacy technician’s job. Coursework may include other topic areas such as:

•Sterilization and safety
•Pharmacy record-keeping
•Pharmacy law

Job and Wage Outlook

Those who successfully complete an associate’s degree program can seek entry-level jobs in work environments such as health care organizations, pharmacies, drug stores and hospitals. In 2008, there were 381,200 professionals working as pharmacy technicians and aides (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). A faster-than-average job growth rate of 25% has been projected for these experts during the period from 2008 to 2018. The optimistic projection is owed to an expected increase in the regular use of medications by individuals, apart from a predicted introduction of new medications and an increasing number of people enjoying prescription drug insurance coverage. In May 2010, pharmacy technicians took home an average annual wage of $29,320.

Continuing Education Choices

Schools that offer Associate of Applied Science programs in pharmacy technology don’t usually allow students to transfer to a four-year bachelor’s program. However, most states require pharmacy technicians to register themselves before seeking to work in those states. Technicians may also volunteer for professional certification – offered by organizations such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board – to improve their career prospects.

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