Pharmacy Technician Certification: Learn How to Become a Pharmacy Tech

NurseJournal Staff
Updated April 18, 2023
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Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in healthcare. Learn how to become a pharmacy technician to join the healthcare workforce today.
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Pharmacy technicians help fill prescriptions safely, manage medical records and payments, and ensure that pharmacies function smoothly. If you want to work in healthcare but do not want to have to earn a degree, becoming a pharmacy technician may be the right career for you.

Learn more below about how to become a pharmacy technician.

What Is a Pharmacy Technician?

The legal requirements of how to become a pharmacy tech vary by state. Check your state regulations before committing to a program. Some states have no requirements and allow workers to become pharmacy techs with only on-the-job training, while others require some form of education for credentialing.

Steps to Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

  1. 1

    Earn a High School Diploma or Equivalent

    The first step in becoming a pharmacy technician is graduating from high school or earning a GED certificate.

  2. 2

    Complete a Postsecondary Pharmacy Technology Program

    Most states require one year of specialized education. Community colleges are the most common providers of pharmacy technology programs, but some large pharmacy chains also offer qualified training. Techs need to be comfortable on computers and using fairly complex programs.

  3. 3

    Gain On-the-Job Experience

    Most pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies, but you can also find employment opportunities in hospitals or other healthcare settings. Pharmacy technicians always work under the direct supervision of a pharmacist. You can start as a pharmacy assistant to get experience, then enter a technician program.

  4. 4

    Consider Becoming a Certified Pharmacy Technician

    The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) offers a certification course for pharmacy technicians. All states accept this certification.

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Pharmacy Technician Education

There are several pathways to become a pharmacy tech. The right one for you depends on your goals and background. Like many other healthcare careers, becoming a pharmacy tech does not require a college degree, but attending college may improve your job or salary prospects.

Pharmacy Technician Licensure and Certification

Requirements for becoming a pharmacy technician vary by state. While not legally required, many employers prefer certification by the PTCB, and all states accept certification as a credential to practice.

To be eligible for the PTCB examination, you need either to complete an approved program or have a minimum of 500 hours work as a pharmacy technician. You must also pass a criminal background check and explain any professional disciplinary actions taken against you.

Working as a Pharmacy Technician

Most pharmacy technicians work in either standalone pharmacies or a pharmacy that is part of a retailer, such as Target, Costco, or Walmart. They also work in hospitals, clinics, or other settings that provide medications. Depending on the workplace, pharmacy techs may work evenings and weekends.

Pharmacy technician salaries are lower than most other healthcare salaries, but comparable to other roles that do not require a degree or extensive training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for pharmacy technicians is $36,740.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

question-mark-circleHow long does it take to become a pharmacy technician?

It can take between two months and two years to become a pharmacy technician, though in some states, you can learn entirely on the job. Degree programs often take one to two years.

question-mark-circleWhat is the quickest way to become a pharmacy technician?

The quickest way to become a pharmacy tech depends on the state where you plan to work. In some states, you can learn entirely on the job. In most states, becoming a pharmacy technician requires some level of formal education.You can also start as pharmacy assistant, then enter a program.

question-mark-circleDo you need a degree to become a pharmacy technician?

Becoming a pharmacy tech does not require a degree, although it can help you find a job or earn a promotion on the job.

question-mark-circleDo pharmacy technicians get paid well?

Pharmacy technician salaries reflect the fact that becoming a pharmacy tech does not require a degree or extensive formal education. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for pharmacy technicians is $36,740. The lowest-paid 10% earn less than $28,740, and the highest-paid 10% earn more than $47,580.

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