For those who would like to work in healthcare without going to medical school, becoming a pharmacy technician may be an excellent career choice.

Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists in drugstores, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. They dispense prescriptions, manage inventory, answer patients’ questions, and complete administrative work.

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Jobs in this field are steadily growing across the country, making it a good time to begin considering this career path. Each state creates its licensing requirements, and the following information pertains to Iowa. [Leer en español]


Pharmacy technicians in Iowa must be at least 18 years of age, register with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, and obtain national certification, which requires applicants to hold a high school diploma or GED and undergo a formal pharmacy technician training program.

Currently, enrolled students must apply for trainee registration before beginning practical training, such as internships or other on-the-job programs.


Formal education programs for pharmacy technicians are typically offered at community colleges and technical schools.

To qualify for national exams and state registration, the program must be certified by the state Board. Here are a few options to consider:

Iowa Western Community College

Iowa Western helps students register with the state Board and meet all other requirements for state certification. The 160-hour program includes a 40-hour externship at a retail pharmacy and classroom instruction in history, ethics, anatomy, safety, and other pharmacology topics.

Kirkwood Community College

Kirkwood’s one-year degree program gives students access to the Katz Family Healthcare Simulation Center, where they can practice their classroom skills in a setting similar to what they’ll encounter while working as a pharmacy technician. The school offers several scholarships for pharmacy technology students.

Des Moines Area Community College

Students at Des Moines Area Community College complete 240 hours of experiential learning, giving them more hands-on education than any school in the state. The one-year program prepares students to transfer to an associate’s degree program, if desired, or to take the national certification exam and begin work.

Penn Foster Career School

Penn Foster offers an affordable, ASHP Accredited online Pharmacy Technician training program. More information.


The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) provides a voluntary certification that is recognized in all 50 states. Iowa law requires technicians to hold this credential before sitting for the state exam, which costs $117.


To be eligible for this credential, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, complete an accredited pharmacy technician training program, and pass the PTCB exam.

There are several ways to prepare for the PTCB exam. Some students choose to study on their own using test prep books like Mosby’s Review for the PTCB Certification Examination, while others prefer to take an interactive course, like the one offered by PTCB.


The National Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (NPTCE) is an open-book exam that tests applicants’ knowledge of pharmacology, pharmacy law and ethics, patient safety, medication preparation, operational procedures, and other relevant subjects. The exam costs $129 and is offered through Pearson VUE.

Once certified, pharmacy technicians can work in a variety of settings, including retail pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, and home health care.


The Iowa Board of Pharmacy offers a state-specific certification exam for pharmacy technicians. The cost is $117, and applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and be at least 18 years old. To register, complete the online application and submit it with the required fee.

Once you have passed the state exam, you will need to submit a notarized Affidavit of Eligibility form and pay the annual registration fee of $35. You will then be issued a registration certificate, which must be renewed annually.


Iowa requires pharmacy technicians to complete at least two hours of continuing education (CE) every year. The CE must be related to the practice of pharmacy and approved by the Board. To renew your registration, submit the renewal form along with the required fee and proof of completion of CE credits.


Iowa requires that pharmacy technicians maintain national certification, which can be obtained by registering with the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. You must have a high school diploma or GED, pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, and pay a fee of $129 to apply for certification.

Once certified, technicians will have to complete continuing education requirements and renew their credentials every two years to maintain their status. Pharmacy technicians must renew their registration with the state Board every two years as well.


Jobs for pharmacy technicians in Iowa are expected to grow at a rate of 12.3 percent in the 10 years to 2026, according to the Projections Managing Partnership. This is in line with the national average growth rate of 12 percent.

Pharmacy technicians in the state can expect an average salary of $36,590 per year, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Pharmacy technicians can take full-time or part-time roles in independent or chain drugstores, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other similar workplaces.

Many of these locations are open late and on the weekends, so expect to work non-traditional hours on occasion. You should also be prepared to stand for the majority of your shifts and move heavy boxes of inventory when necessary.

Jobs in urban areas, such as Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, typically pay the highest salaries to compensate for the higher cost of living, though you can generally find work in any area of the state.


What are the best pharmacy technician schools in Iowa?

  1. Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny
  2. Indian Hills Community College, Ottumwa
  3. Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids
  4. Western Iowa Tech Community College, Sioux City
  5. Northwest Iowa Community College, Sheldon

How do you become a pharmacy technician in Iowa?

  1. You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED
  2. Pass a criminal record check
  3. Pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)
  4. Apply for Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) Certification

How much do pharmacy technicians make in Iowa?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians in the state of Iowa made an average of $32,560 per year in 2018. Entry-level pharm techs earned around $23,810 and some experienced professionals earned as much as $42,870.

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See options in the neighboring states of MinnesotaWisconsinIllinoisMissouriNebraska, and South Dakota.