How to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

Are you thinking of becoming a Pharmacy Technician or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Pharmacy Technician, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Pharmacy Technician job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians work alongside licensed pharmacists to accurately and safely fulfill patient prescriptions. They have a wide range of job duties that include processing insurance claims, managing supplies, contacting physicians to verify prescriptions, preparing intravenous medications, counting pills, maintaining records, and labeling bottles. Pharmacy technicians may work in a variety of places, including retail stores, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. They spend most of their time on their feet and may need to work nights, weekends, or holidays depending on the hours of the pharmacy. A hospital pharmacy, for example, is open at all times.

Get a certificate, diploma, or degree.

Certificate or diploma programs offer the quickest route to becoming a pharmacy technician. These take about two semesters to complete. Pharmacy Technician Certificate programs are available both in-person and online. The course covers topics such as pharmacy law, drug classifications, pharmaceutical math, and pharmacy practices.

Alternately, you can get a pharmacy technician associate's degree. This is a more in-depth course of study that includes general education courses and takes about two years to complete. Some schools include hands-on learning within a pharmacy environment as part of their program, so graduates enter the workforce with experience in hand.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Pharmacy Technician?

32% of people working as a Pharmacy Technician earned a GED / High School Degree

What skills do you need to be a Pharmacy Technician?

  • Speaking
  • English
  • Pulmonary Function
  • Written Communication
  • Calculations
  • Interpersonal and Communication
  • Typing
  • Writing
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Pharmacy Technician in the United States.

Get certified.

In some states, you must be certified to work as a pharmacy technician. Though certification isn't required in all states, employers typically prefer certified pharmacy technicians even when it's not mandated by law. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and National Healthcareer Association (NHA) both offer exams to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). You must take these exams within five years of completing your pharmacy technician training program. Alternately, if you have gained extensive work experience as a pharmacy technician without formal training, you may qualify for the exam.

The PTCB exam requires a minimum of 500 hours of work experience as a pharmacy technician if you haven't completed a training program. This test has 90 multiple-choice questions and takes one hour and 50 minutes to complete. The NHA requires a year of pharmacy technician work experience with at least 1,200 hours of supervised pharmacy-related work for those who haven't completed a formal education. The NHA exam has 100 questions and takes two hours and 10 minutes to complete.


Maintain your certification.

CPhT certification must be renewed every two years. To maintain your pharmacy technician certification, you must complete at least 20 hours of continuing education every two years. This must include at least one hour of pharmacy law and one hour of patient safety.

Pharmacy Technician Career Path

Pharmacy Technician

8+Years of Experience
$35K - $50K /yrMost Likely Range
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10% advanced to

Senior Pharmacy Technician

2 - 4Years of Experience
$38K - $55K /yrMost Likely Range
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Pharmacy Technician IV

5 - 7Years of Experience
$40K - $57K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Pharmacy Technician Career Path

Pharmacy Technician I
Pharmacy Technician
Senior Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy Technician IV
Pharmacy Technician V
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Related Careers in the Healthcare Industry

Interested in other Healthcare careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Pharmacy Technician skills. Discover some of the most common Pharmacy Technician career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Retail Pharmacist
No skills overlap
90% transitioned to Retail Pharmacist