How to Become a Pharmacy Technician: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you ever considered a career in healthcare that combines essential medical knowledge with customer service skills? Becoming a pharmacy technician might be the ideal path for you. In this comprehensive guide on how to become a pharmacy technician, we will walk you through the steps to embark on this rewarding career, from understanding the role and its importance in healthcare settings to the necessary education, training, and certification requirements. Let’s dive in and explore the exciting world of pharmacy technicians!

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Key Takeaways

  • Becoming a pharmacy technician requires meeting educational, training and certification/licensing requirements.
  • Reputable programs with comprehensive curriculums & hands-on experience are key to success in the field.
  • Pharmacy technicians must hone technical, soft and interpersonal skills for career advancement opportunities.

Understanding the Pharmacy Technician Role

Pharmacy technicians are key players in healthcare settings, their role involves assisting pharmacists and patients with the dispensation and knowledge of medications. They serve as the backbone of pharmacies, enabling smooth and efficient operations. With the growing demand for prescription medications and the expansion of pharmacy services, pharmacy technician jobs are on the rise, making it an attractive career choice.

Working as a pharmacy technician, you will find yourself in a variety of healthcare environments like retail pharmacies, hospitals, or mail-order pharmacies. The dynamic nature of this profession offers a unique blend of patient interaction and technical expertise. If you are passionate about healthcare and enjoy helping others, then a career as a pharmacy technician may be the perfect fit for you.

Duties and Responsibilities

Pharmacy technicians are responsible for a wide range of tasks, from processing prescriptions and providing customer service to managing medications. Their day-to-day responsibilities are diverse and require a blend of technical and interpersonal skills. For instance, a pharmacy technician must communicate effectively with customers and healthcare providers to ensure the correct medication is dispensed. In this context, pharmacy technicians work plays a crucial role in the healthcare system.

In addition to customer service, pharmacy technicians also handle the packaging and labeling of prescriptions, requiring a keen eye for detail and accuracy. Becoming a pharmacy technician requires a strong foundation in these skills, which are developed through specialized pharmacy technician programs.

Importance in Healthcare Settings

Pharmacy technicians contribute significantly to the efficient and accurate dispensation of medications across various healthcare settings. The demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to grow by 4 percent through 2030, with over 16,600 new jobs being added. This growth is fueled by the aging population and increased reliance on prescription medications to address chronic diseases and age-related health concerns. Obtaining a pharmacy technician certification and completing an online pharmacy tech program can help you enter this growing field.

In addition to job security, pharmacy technicians also enjoy competitive salaries. The wages of the lowest 10 percent earners was under $28,740. Conversely, the highest 10 percent earned above $47,580. By pursuing certification through organizations like the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), you can increase your earning potential and enhance your career prospects.

Work Environments

Various healthcare settings employ pharmacy technicians, each presenting its unique set of challenges and rewards. In a retail pharmacy setting, pharmacy technicians interact directly with patients, providing medications and advice to improve their wellbeing. They also play a critical role in managing inventories and ensuring the smooth operation of the pharmacy.

Hospital-based pharmacy technicians, on the other hand, work more behind the scenes. Their responsibilities include:

  • Preparing IV medications
  • Ensuring patients receive the correct medication in a sterile and safe environment
  • Performing extensive cleaning to maintain a safe pharmaceutical environment

Whether you prefer direct patient interaction or a more behind-the-scenes role, there is a work environment suited to your preferences as a pharmacy technician.

Requirements for Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Specific educational, training, and certification/licensing requirements must be met to become a pharmacy technician. The educational requirements vary by state but usually include a high school diploma or equivalent. Some states may also require completion of a pharmacy technician program.

Training programs for pharmacy technicians typically range from a few months to a year and combine classroom learning with hands-on experience. Most states require certification and/or licensure for pharmacy technicians, which can be obtained through organizations like the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Educational Requirements

The pharmacy technician education requirements are diverse, ranging from certificate programs and diplomas to associate degrees. Depending on your career goals and the requirements of your state, you can choose the educational path that best suits your needs. It’s also possible to become a pharmacy tech without going to school.

Certificate and diploma programs are shorter in duration and focus on the essential skills needed for a pharmacy technician role. Associate degree programs, on the other hand, offer a more comprehensive education, including general education courses and in-depth pharmacy-related coursework. While associate degree programs require more time and investment, they can lead to greater advancement opportunities and higher salary potential.

Training Programs

A well-designed training program for pharmacy technicians lays a solid foundation for your career, marrying classroom instruction with hands-on experience. These programs cover essential topics such as pharmacology, medical terminology, pharmacy law, and drug calculations.

Hands-on experience is a crucial component of pharmacy technician training, allowing you to develop practical knowledge and skills that will be invaluable in your profession. Many programs also incorporate in-person clinical training and on the job training, providing real-world exposure to pharmacy operations and patient care.

Certification and Licensing

State-specific certification and licensing requirements for pharmacy technicians exist, with some states necessitating national certification via organizations such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Obtaining certification demonstrates your commitment to the profession and ensures that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform your duties effectively.

In addition to national certification, some states may also require pharmacy technicians to obtain a state-specific license or registration. Be sure to research the requirements for your state to ensure you meet all necessary criteria for certification and/or licensure.

Choosing the Right Pharmacy Technician Program

The right pharmacy technician program selection is instrumental for your professional success. To make an informed decision, you should consider factors such as accreditation, curriculum, and hands-on experience. These elements will ensure that the program you choose provides a comprehensive education that prepares you for certification exams and the demands of the job.

By selecting a program with a strong reputation, you can be confident that you are receiving a quality education that will set you up for success in your pharmacy technician career. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, seek advice from current professionals, and research program options to find the best fit for your needs and goals.


When choosing a pharmacy technician program, accreditation stands out as a significant factor. Accredited programs, including online pharmacy tech programs, have been evaluated by respected organizations such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), ensuring they meet specific standards and provide a quality education.

Attending an accredited program ensures that your education will be recognized by employers and may be required for certification or licensure in some states. Be sure to research the accreditation status of any program you’re considering to ensure it meets the necessary standards for a successful career in pharmacy technology.


A well-rounded curriculum for pharmacy technician training should cover key topics such as:

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacy operations
  • Medication dispensing
  • Pharmaceutical calculations
  • Pharmacy law and ethics
  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy and physiology

By learning these essential skills and concepts, you’ll be well-equipped to excel in your profession and provide exceptional patient care.

In addition to theoretical knowledge, a strong pharmacy technician program will also provide opportunities for hands-on learning and practical experience. This can include labs, workshops, and externships that allow you to apply your newfound knowledge in real-world pharmacy settings.

Hands-on Experience

Any pharmacy technician program should incorporate a significant amount of hands-on experience. Through externships and other practical learning opportunities, you’ll develop the skills necessary to excel in your career and confidently navigate the challenges of working in a pharmacy setting.

Gaining hands-on experience not only enables you to practice and refine your skills but also exposes you to the realities of the profession, helping you build a strong foundation for your career. When choosing a pharmacy technician program, be sure to inquire about the hands-on learning opportunities available and how they are integrated into the curriculum.

Preparing for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam

Preparation for the pharmacy technician certification exam marks an essential step on the path to becoming a certified pharmacy technician. By using a combination of study materials, online resources, and practice exams, you can ensure you’re well-prepared for the test and familiar with the exam format.

Creating a study plan, reviewing exam content, and taking practice tests are all effective ways to prepare for the certification exam. By dedicating time and effort to exam preparation, you can increase your chances of success and set yourself on the path to a rewarding career as a pharmacy technician.

Study Materials

Study materials, including textbooks and guides, are fundamental for revising crucial concepts and preparing for the pharmacy technician certification exam. These resources provide comprehensive coverage of exam topics, allowing you to effectively prepare and reinforce your knowledge.

Some commonly used study materials include PTCB study guides, practice question banks, and online study platforms such as Union Test Prep and Mometrix. By utilizing a variety of study materials, you can ensure that you’re well-prepared for the exam and have a solid understanding of all the necessary concepts.

Online Resources

Additional information and support for pharmacy technician exam preparation can be gleaned from online resources like forums and websites. These resources can offer valuable insights, tips, and advice from other pharmacy technicians who have successfully completed the certification process.

By engaging with online resources and participating in forums, you can connect with other pharmacy technician candidates, share experiences, and ask questions about exam preparation. This can help you identify areas where you may need additional study and provide encouragement and motivation throughout your preparation process.

Practice Exams

Utilizing practice exams is a priceless strategy in assessing your preparedness for the pharmacy technician certification exam and pinpointing areas that need improvement. By taking practice exams, you can familiarize yourself with the exam format, test your knowledge of exam topics, and gain confidence in your ability to succeed on the exam.

There are various practice exams available, such as the Pre-PTCE, PTCB practice tests, and free practice tests. When taking practice exams, focus on the topics covered, review the answers, and identify areas where you may need additional study. This can help you tailor your study plan and ensure you’re well-prepared for the certification exam.

Building a Successful Pharmacy Technician Career

Cultivating essential skills, seizing career advancement opportunities, and satisfying continuing education requirements are integral in building a successful pharmacy technician career. By honing your technical and interpersonal abilities, seeking additional certifications, and staying up-to-date with industry developments, you can set yourself up for a rewarding and fulfilling career in the pharmacy field.

Your success as a pharmacy technician will be determined by your commitment to lifelong learning, professional growth, and dedication to providing exceptional patient care. Embrace the challenges and opportunities that come with this dynamic profession, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful and fulfilling career as a pharmacy technician.

Essential Skills

A blend of technical and soft skills, including attention to detail, communication, and organization, are necessary to excel as a pharmacy technician. These skills will enable you to accurately read and interpret prescriptions, measure and mix medications, and ensure that the appropriate medications are dispensed to the appropriate patients.

In addition to technical expertise, pharmacy technicians must also possess strong interpersonal skills to effectively communicate with patients and other healthcare professionals. Excellent customer service skills, empathy, and patience are essential for providing compassionate care and ensuring a positive experience for patients.

Career Advancement Opportunities

A variety of career advancement opportunities are at the disposal of pharmacy technicians. By obtaining additional certifications, such as the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) or Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician (CSPT), you can enhance your credentials and broaden your career prospects.

Pursuing higher education, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in pharmacy or a related field, can also open doors to new opportunities and higher salary potential. By continually seeking to expand your skills and knowledge, you can position yourself for a successful and fulfilling career in the pharmacy field.

Continuing Education Requirements

To maintain your pharmacy technician certification and keep up with industry developments and new medications, continuing education is indispensable. Most states require pharmacy technicians to complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education every two years, which may include specific topics such as pharmacy law and patient safety.

By engaging in continuing education, you can ensure that your knowledge and skills remain current, enabling you to provide the best possible care for your patients. Whether through courses, seminars, or online learning programs, continuing education is a critical component of a successful pharmacy technician career.


In conclusion, a pharmacy technician career offers a rewarding and fulfilling opportunity to make a positive impact on patients’ lives. By understanding the role, meeting the necessary requirements, choosing the right program, preparing for the certification exam, and continually advancing your skills and knowledge, you can set yourself up for a successful and dynamic career in this vital healthcare profession. It’s time to embark on your journey to becoming a pharmacy technician – the possibilities are endless!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of a pharmacy technician?

Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists dispense medication and provide customers with information in various healthcare settings like pharmacies, hospitals, and mail-order pharmacies.

What are the educational requirements for becoming a pharmacy technician?

To become a pharmacy technician, you may pursue a certificate program, diploma, or an associate degree, depending on your specific goals.

What are the benefits of hands-on experience in a pharmacy technician program?

Gaining hands-on experience through a pharmacy technician program provides valuable skills and knowledge that will prove beneficial for future career prospects.