What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy technician education options range from a high school diploma to an associate's degree in the field. Here we discuss the various pharmacy technician requirements for those wondering how to become a pharmacy technician. Schools offering Pharmacy Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

While the education requirements for becoming a pharmacist are quite extensive, becoming a pharmacy technician, or pharmacy tech, typically requires little to no postsecondary education. These technicians work in hospitals and pharmacies helping pharmacists prepare medications for patients. Explore the steps to becoming a pharmacy technician here.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

All pharmacy technicians need at least a high school diploma or its equivalent, like a GED. Pharmacy technicians who do not pursue postsecondary education (see next step) usually need on-the-job training in combination with their high school diploma. High school students interested in becoming a pharmacy technician may wish to take additional courses in areas like chemistry, anatomy, and biology.

Step 2: Pursue Postsecondary Pharmacy Technician Education

Some students may be interested in attending pharmacy technician school and pursuing postsecondary courses, certificate and diploma programs, or associate's degree programs in the field. Pharmacy technician certificate programs are generally shorter in length than 2-year associate's degree programs and may be completed in as little as 9 months. Some of these certificate programs may offer hands-on learning experiences working in a pharmacy. Diploma programs may be completed in as little as 12 months.

At the associate's level, students can pursue an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Pharmacy Technician that usually require around 90 or 92 credits. As mentioned, most of these programs take 2 years to complete, but some may be completed slightly faster in as little as 18 months. Some of these programs may be available in online formats and typically include an externship experience that totals around 200 hours for hands-on training. Course topics for pharmacy technician associate's programs may include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Pharmaceutical calculations
  • Pharmacology
  • Medication safety
  • Institutional and community pharmacy

Step 3: Meet State Pharmacy Technician Requirements

Pharmacy technicians will need to meet the work requirements for their particular state. Typically, states regulate pharmacy technicians through requirements like exams, continuing education, background checks, fees, and more.

Some pharmacy technicians may also need to be certified. Associate's degree programs may have students take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) after their externship experience. Another certification option is available through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Step 4: Complete Training

Pharmacy technicians, even those who have completed a postsecondary program in the field, usually need to undergo some on-the-job training. Those with a postsecondary certificate, diploma, or degree may need less training than those with a high school diploma, but all of these technicians must learn the duties, operations, and procedures for their specific employer.

Pharmacy Technician Job Description

Degree RequiredHigh school diploma
Other RequirementsPossible certification, training
Annual Median Salary (2018)*$32,700
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026)*12%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Pharmacy technicians generally work full-time, but may work outside normal business hours if their pharmacy is open around the clock. These professionals are supervised by pharmacists and help fill various prescriptions for patients or doctors. Other job duties may include:

  • Answering telephones
  • Labeling medications
  • Measuring out medications
  • Handling payments and insurance for medications
  • Taking inventory
  • Recording patient information

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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  • University of Alaska

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    • Alaska: Anchorage
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  • American Career College

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    • California: Anaheim, Los Angeles
  • The University of Montana

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    • Montana: Missoula
  • York Technical College

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    • South Carolina: Rock Hill