Pharmacy Tech Schools: How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Learn about pharmacy tech schools and the steps to become a pharmacy technician, from pharmacy tech certification to state licensing requirements.
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Pharmacy Technician Career Facts

Pharmacy Tech Schools: How to Earn a Pharmacy Technician Degree

Pharmacy technicians sometimes get confused with pharmacy assistants but technicians require more education, training, skills, and knowledge.

The job requires intimate knowledge about the different drug classifications, the process of prescription fulfillment, insurance claims, and day-to-day operations.

There are many different kinds of jobs in the pharmacy industry. Pharmacy techs perform procedures, mix and measure drugs, and explain medication dosages, laws, and ethical principles. All of these tasks require close attention to detail.

If you’re interested in a career in pharmacy tech, you’ll find that there are many different ways to apply your education as a level I, II, or III pharmacy tech.

Find out how to get into the pharmacy industry today. Keep reading to discover more about pharmacy tech schools, certifications, degrees, and other requirements to begin working.

This article will guide you on how to pursue a career as a pharmacy technician and the job opportunities after you earn your degree.

What Type of Degree Should I Earn and Is It Necessary?

Legally, pharmacies can hire a pharmacy technician even without a certificate or degree.

So, in theory, you can get on-the-job training and be absorbed by the company once management is confident of your ability to contribute.

However, the industry is growing at a rapid rate, and pharmacies have become more discerning, especially since a lot of schools are offering pharmacy technician degree programs.

Companies do not have to worry about the workforce and resources to train someone because they can hire a qualified pharmacy technician instead.

Choose Your Diploma and Certificate Program

Earning your diploma and pharmacy technician certification is the first step to building a career as a pharmacy technician. These are short courses that you can finish in two semesters and enter the
workforce at the quickest possible time.

You have a choice of curriculums that depends on your career goals.

Certificate Course for Pharmacy Technician

In this course, you will study topics and subjects that are relevant to your course. For example, the Houston Community College has the following items included in its curriculum:

  • Laws covering the profession
  • Intro to health professions
  • Classification of the different drugs
  • Pharma Math I and II
  • Institutional practice of pharmacy
  • Community practice of pharmacy
  • Sterile preparations

As an additional requirement, students will undergo on-the-job training in hospitals, home care settings, and retail pharmacies.

Read our related article to learn more about each of the required pharmacy tech classes and what you will learn in each of them.

Associate Degree Program

A pharmacy technician certificate or diploma is your ticket to enter the workforce.

However, should you desire further education, you can earn a pharmacy associate’s degree at one of the many accredited pharmacy tech schools. It’s more comprehensive compared to the diploma or certificate course since you will be taking general psychology subjects, algebra, and even correct grammar and composition.

Below are the listed subjects under the Associate Degree program of Renton Technical College:

  • Pharmacology
  • Fundamentals and ethics for pharmacy technician
  • Pharmaceutical chemistry and calculations
  • Top 200 drugs
  • Business office machines
  • Record-keeping and pharma preparations for outpatients
  • Laws and references governing pharmacy

As a requisite, you will also learn about customer relationship, human relations, and office management in a practical setting.

Job Opportunities for a Diploma Course and Associate’s Degree

According to, a pharmacy technician earns an average range of $32,940 to
$34,911. Meanwhile, getting an associate’s degree will bump their salary to a range of
$33,092 to $35,030.

The best thing is, with your background in pharmacy technician, the transition to becoming a pharmacist becomes easier if that’s your ultimate goal.

At the very least, the salary difference is substantial as the pharmacist earns a base pay of $127,500.

Do I Need to Take an Exam?

Securing your pharmacy technician certificate requires that you pass the exam given by the PTCB or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.

Before you can take the exam, however, the following must be submitted:

  1. Your GED or high school diploma
  2. Documents that prove you are not convicted of a felony or drug charge
  3. Proof that you are not listed in the pharmacy or State Board restrictions

You will get your Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) certificate upon passing the exam. As
soon as you get your certification, only then will you be duly recognized by the ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists)

How Much Does a Certificate or Diploma Cost?

The figures vary depending on the state you are located or the college you are enrolled in.

Typically, however, you will spend starting at a minimum of $3,000 or even up to $11,000 for
the entire course. Some variables are factored into the overall cost.

For instance, out-of-state students pay higher tuition compared to in-state students.

Sometimes course rates can be intimidating for someone to pursue their dream at a particular college. Remember, education is your investment in acquiring a stable and well-paying job. Make sure to do your research before deciding on your future.

Accredited Pharmacy Tech Schools

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is the accrediting body for pharmacy technician schools and programs.

Earning your education from an accredited pharmacy tech school shows employers and state regulators that you have completed the proper education and training according to national standards.

Pharmacy Technician Programs and Training

Working as a pharmacy tech in most states doesn’t require an advanced college education but a diploma certificate or associate degree will make you more competitive in the job market.

While the job description for a pharmacy technician may not be common knowledge, the role includes general duties that are common in a pharmacy, including preparing the pharmacy for opening, filling prescriptions, and dispensing medications.

Training in this role can include learning about drug interactions, basic pharmaceutical calculations, and medication types.

Here is a list of the basic courses you take during pharmacy tech school:

  • Pharmacy Math
  • Pharmacy Calculations
  • Pharmacy Law and Ethics
  • Medical Terminology
  • Computerized Prescription Entry
  • Insurance Verification

Additionally, students learn about the security and quality standards associated with working in a pharmacy.

Pharmacy technicians are a vital part of a pharmacy’s operations. As a member of the pharmacy team, they assist pharmacists with tasks ranging from filling prescriptions to stocking shelves. They also assist in the storage and distribution of medications to patients. In addition to their administrative role, pharmacy technicians often perform a variety of other tasks, including providing consultative information about medications to patients and providers.

What are the requirements to be a pharmacy tech?

Before enrolling in a program, you should consider the prerequisites and courses for your program. Some programs are less rigorous than others, and some even offer an internship opportunity.

Regardless of whether you choose to go to a school with a pharmacy technician program or not, a basic understanding of math and chemistry is essential. Additional requirements include knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, business, and human systems.

A pharmacy technician can receive on-the-job training or become a certified pharmacy technician by completing an education program and a certification exam.

Interested applicants can pursue a certificate program in pharmacy technology to learn the skills they need to succeed in the field. These programs last approximately one year and are designed to introduce students to the profession while also providing them with valuable work experience and a resume.

The program also includes an externship to give students a taste of the real world as a pharmacy techs. In addition to the certificate, students can also complete a pharmacy technician associate degree program to increase their chances of getting a job in this field.

As a pharmacy technician, you’ll be working with customers, as well as preparing medication for patients. In addition to working with customers, you’ll be responsible for inventory management and responding to supply shortages.

In some settings, such as hospitals, pharmacy technicians may deliver drugs directly to doctors and other health professionals. They may even be responsible for preparing intravenous medications. While the work environment is varied, pharmacy technicians help pharmacists do their job more efficiently and keep patients safe.

What skills do you learn in pharmacy tech school?

After completing pharmacy tech school, you will be prepared to work in a pharmacy as a technician.

Pharmacy techs need to be organized and have excellent communication skills. They must know how to handle new patients and understand their needs. They must be able to manage multiple tasks and pivot between duties without losing focus.

As a pharmacy technician student, you’ll be taught skills that include:

  • Dispensing medications
  • Monitoring patient safety and security
  • Explaining medication to patients
  • Mathematical calculations
  • Computer and pharmacy software
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Communication skills
  • Organizational skills

Pharmacy techs must also be able to manage their own stress and work well with other team members. Learning new skills and techniques will help you in your role. Whether you’re interested in a career in medicine or a career in pharmacy techs, these skills will be invaluable.

Although pharmacists are the ones who perform most of the calculations in the pharmacy, technicians must be able to use computer software and know-how to manage and maintain the inventory. Pharmacy technicians need good communication skills to interact with both patients and their medical colleagues.

Being able to organize paperwork and medication will help you build positive working relationships with patients and colleagues. Knowing how certain drugs affect the human body will also help you be able to do your job well.

Is the pharmacy tech test hard?

While the exam is designed to test your proficiency as a pharmacy tech, the answer to this question is dependent on a few factors. One of those factors is how well you can perform mathematically.

The more practice you have, the easier the exam will be. Another factor that determines how easy the test will be is how much experience you have. If you don’t have much experience, you can take practice tests to increase your score. Considering there is a fee to take the exam, it is important to take the exam seriously.

Math is probably the most common question asked on the pharmacy tech exam. You will need to know algebra and other math concepts to perform well. Almost all math problems in the pharmacy tech test will involve conversions, so knowing how to convert between different measurements is essential. You can study for this by using mobile apps and flashcards.

How long does it take to become a pharmacy tech?

The training required to become a pharmacy technician depends on the state you live in but typically it takes about 1-2 years to become licensed. Some states require a high school diploma or GED, while others require an associate degree. Some states also require a criminal background check.

In addition, some states require that you pass a certification exam. Although not required, you may want to consider taking some type of continuing education course to keep your license current. The requirements can differ widely, but you should expect to spend at least one year in school before you can start working.

You may not need to pursue certification in your state, but many employers prefer certified pharmacy technicians. You can find out exactly what you need to get started as a pharmacy tech in your state’s licensing process.

If you’re interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, you can obtain a high school diploma, complete an on-the-job training program, or earn a pharmacy tech degree. Depending on the employer, there may be certain requirements for this job. Read job descriptions and pay close attention to specific qualifications required for that particular role.

What are the levels of pharmacy technicians?

There are 3 levels of pharmacy technicians known as levels I, II, and III.

Level 1 pharmacy technicians are often known as “frontline” technicians because they are the first pharmacy tech whom customers interact with.

Level 1 Pharmacy technicians are responsible for preparing prescriptions for customers who come into the pharmacy. They place the order when a customer comes in and then fill it by retrieving the appropriate medications from the pharmacy. They may also prepare other non-prescription medications for customers. Pharmacy technicians at Level 1 typically have a pharmacy technician diploma a specific pharmacy technician certification or both.

Level 2 pharmacy technicians are the second level of pharmacy technicians. They mainly perform technical tasks and administrative tasks. These tasks include, but are not limited to, filling prescriptions, preparing and packaging sterile products, and computer-related tasks.

A Level 3 pharmacy technician is a technician with more advanced knowledge and training when it comes to the pharmacy. They are more specialized in their field and have a more advanced understanding of the pharmaceutical industry. They are able to perform a wide range of functions including compounding and preparing pharmaceutical dosage forms, advising customers on their medication, and managing inventory.

Can a technician become a pharmacist?

If you’re wondering, “Can a pharmacy technician become a pharmacist?” you’re not alone. The answer is yes and we wrote an article on how to become a pharmacist.

As a licensed pharmacist, you’ll need to have excellent problem-solving and management skills. Some of your training will focus on operations and management. In order to become a pharmacist, a pharmacy tech must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. The process can take up to six years to complete. A pharmacy tech can also choose to take the pre-pharmacy courses offered at many universities and colleges.

As a pharmacy technician, you’ll learn a wide variety of skills while also gaining valuable hands-on experience. Pharmacy technicians also provide customer service and help organize the pharmacy. They also spot mistakes and help pharmacists prepare drugs.

On the other hand, Pharmacists are also legally permitted to give advice to patients and prescribe medications, so you’ll be working under their supervision as a tech.

Is pharmacy technician a good career?

The job outlook for pharmacy technicians is positive for the next decade and the job offers numerous benefits. For one, you can work with patients and make a real difference in their lives. Another benefit is that pharmacy technicians can be flexible with their schedules. They can work either full-time or part-time, depending on their preferences and availability.

Another benefit to pursuing pharmacy technician jobs is that there are multiple educational routes to become a pharmacy technician, depending on your desired level of education and experience. Most states require pharmacy technicians to earn a high school diploma or an equivalent diploma. Obtaining an associate’s degree or diploma will also increase your job prospects. Depending on your preferred level of education, you can choose to attend an online pharmacy technician school. In addition, you may be able to start your career with just a high school diploma.

One thing you may want to keep in mind about a career in pharmacy tech is that you might be dealing with people who are sick and not feeling their best. The satisfaction you will receive from helping others makes working as a pharmacy technician a rewarding career.

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