How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy TechnicianMilitary22 Comments

pharmacy technicianA pharmacy technician’s job is to assist the pharmacist with certain daily tasks such as entering in data, measuring out and packaging medications, processing payment information, and accurately placing the correct labels on medication. That’s in addition to more basic skills like answering phone calls, taking inventory of the pharmacy’s supplies, and providing high quality customer service. It’s a position that requires a great deal of precision and attention to detail as well as an understanding of basic pharmacology, expertise in dispensing medication, and a deep knowledge of pharmacy law and ethics.

In order to be effective and excel at their jobs, pharmacy technicians need to undergo at least some formal training. Here’s a quick look at some of the training you need in order to become a pharmacy technician and how long it might take you.

The Basics
You may be asking, “How do I become a pharmacy technician in the first place?” The first step to starting a pharmacy technician career is to earn a high school diploma or GED equivalent. With a basic education, you can qualify for on-the-job training. However, many people find that looking for employment is easier if they have undergone some form of post-secondary training, such as an online pharmacy technician certification program, that helps prepare them for the profession and answers questions about how to be a pharmacy technician and what a pharmacy tech is. Some states require pharmacy technicians to have this formal training or pass a national certification exam.
How Long?
Formal pharmacy technician training can take you anywhere from a few months to more than a year. On-the-job training relies on the mentorship, guidance, and experience of a skilled pharmacist who will provide you with many opportunities in job growth. As you train, you’ll learn about any of the responsibilities of a pharmacy technician, which includes knowing when the pharmacist should handle certain tasks. Your training is complete once the pharmacist is confident of your ability to do the jobwell without supervision.

Formal training is also often provided at a wide range of places including vocational schools, community colleges, technical institutes, and more. Online pharmacy technician certification courses can also be an excellent fit if you are already working in another job or if you have a busy schedule with little time to fit in traditional classroom training. Many institutions, Career Step included, provide pharmacy technician courses online that can be completed relatively quickly. For instance, Career Step’s online pharmacy technician training can be finished in as little as 4 months of full time study. That means you can become a pharmacy technician in less time than a typical semester would take. These online courses will help prepare you for your role and responsibilities as a pharmacy technician. As you complete the training, you’ll learn all about things that every pharmacy technician should know, such as common drug names, pharmacy laws and regulations, pharmaceutical calculations, and how to enter data and process prescriptions. Some courses, including Career Step’s Pharmacy Technician program, even provide externship opportunities, a valuable way to build a professional network that prepares your for full-time employment.

You should be aware of two main types of certification for pharmacy technicians as you set out to start your new career. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification requires pharmacy technicians to have a high school diploma and pass a certification exam. The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) certification has a minimum age requirement of 18 years and requires applicants to have a high school diploma, complete a formal training program, and have at least 1 year of work experience before they can sit for the certification exam. These certifications will help you find a job quickly and be successful in your chosen career as a pharmacy technician.

Pharmacy technicians are required to recertify every 2 years to make sure they’re up-to-date with all of the healthcare changes and advances that affect their scope of practice. You can do this by completing 20 hours of continuing education to ensure your skills are current.

Training to become a pharmacy technician can take anywhere from a few months to a year, and taking that little bit of extra time to earn a national certification through the PTCB or NHA is definitely worth it if this is the career you want to pursue. In practically no time you’ll go from wondering, “What is a pharmacy technician?” to being fully qualified to work in a pharmacy. Online courses and certification programs will prove valuable in giving you the right start in a rewarding new job. With the right kind of training and knowledge, you can be well on your way toward a long and successful career as a pharmacy technician!

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  1. constancia manjenwa March 19, 2015

    its good to train as pharmacy technician.

  2. Leslie Ann gray July 20, 2015

    I am interested in the medical field and I don’t know Wether or not a pharmacy tech or lpn but I diffinitely need a job now

  3. pauline malepe August 16, 2015

    I pauline malepe iam intrested in doing pharmacy technician cause I want to know where I can study , apparently iam a Medical Receptionist despensing medican

  4. Joseph Todd August 25, 2015

    Any pharmacy or chemistry training on Maui, or the Internet? Thanks

  5. Samuel September 18, 2015

    Im in the medical field as a phlebotomist,its ok but the advancement is minimal at best,in other words dead end,so now my goal is to become a pharmacy tech.the job demand is much greater… 10 pages of pharmacy tech positions on indeed in atlanta ga alone,so imagine the demand nationwide… jus sayin

  6. amber November 18, 2015

    Is the Pharmacy Tech Classes are hard to take

  7. Instructor Susan Tuckett November 19, 2015

    The Pharmacy Technician program is challenging, but it does prepare you for national certification.  You will be expected to memorize the top 200 drugs (brand name/generic/what it’s used for, etc.), and there is an extensive math section as well.  You will also be studying pharmacy law.

  8. myat su February 23, 2016

    Very good explanation. thanks.

  9. nick ciampa March 31, 2016

    Susan’s info posting #7 is the best info to focus on. Thank-you Susan for that. Pharmacy tech is a position that will not go away. It can’t be out sourced and it’s a growing need for the pop. of the US. I’m looking into this and telemetry tech to have solid employment. The cert is important. 

    Hi Nick-
    Thank you for your comment and insights!

    Best wishes!

  10. Doris August 01, 2016

    I would definitely like a degree for pharmacy tech but I need to get my Ged.

  11. Marguerite November 04, 2016

    I am 56 years old and would like to begin working again. Being a Pharmacy Technician sounds like it would be an interesting “fit” for me. Are there any pre-requisites needed to take this course? Would a GRANT be available to me?  I live near Folsom, California so Folsom Lake College would be my closest campus, unless this is a strictly on-line course…
    I look forward to hearing from you with more information , specifically - what the COMPLETE COST ( books included) would be for the Program, the length of the Program and what I would qualify for once i finish the program.
    Thank You,

  12. Career Step November 08, 2016

    Hi Marguerite,
    Thanks for reaching out to us and for your interest in our pharmacy technician program. In order to register for the course you need to have a GED or high school diploma. We offer many different financing and payment plans.

    Everything you need to succeed is included in one, low tuition payment of $1,995.

    This tuition fee entitles you to an initial 6 months of access to the Pharmacy Technician course. The program is designed to be completed in 3 months of full-time study, and we provide you 6 months of access to ensure you have the time you need. With Career Step, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to maximize your income potential as a pharmacy technician because the program prepares you to earn your national certification right after graduation.In addition With job-focused training and externships through Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy, Career Step students are prepared to earn national certification and start working right after graduation.

    The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the middle 50% of pharmacy technicians earn between $24,760 and $37,280 a year.
    Pharmacy technicians who earn national certification by taking the PTCB Exam or ExCPT exam are often paid more by their employers.
    Preparation for the PTCB Exam, which is the most recognized and respected national certification, is built in to your Career Step training.

    Take a look at this link for more information on the pharmacy technician course:

    We would love to discuss your questions about the course. Please reach out to us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 1-800-411-7073.

    Hope this helps!

  13. Sinovuyo November 28, 2016

    I’m interested of this career.

  14. Career Step November 30, 2016

    Hi Sinovuyo,
    We would love to discuss your questions about the pharmacy technician course. Please reach out to us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 1-800-411-7073. You can also go here
    for more information.

    Hope this helps!

  15. Sophie November 30, 2016

    I am not good at maths…but Iam interested in being a pharmacy technician.what can I do?

  16. sheira December 04, 2016

    Hello Career step. im interested with this career but im a full time mom. im a graduate BSN. what should i do? any help from you. thank you

  17. Mbrandon December 04, 2016

    Whr im frm the medical field is high n demand…i want to try something bt i dont knw wht really….wd my knowledge of only basic math keep me hindered

  18. Career Step December 05, 2016

    Hi Mbrandon,
    Thanks for reaching out to us! We would love to talk to you about what medical course would be a good fit for you. Please reach out to us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 1-800-411-7073. I will also pass your information on to our academic advisiors.

    Best wishes!

  19. Career Step December 05, 2016

    Hi Sheira,
    Thank you for your question! Our courses are an excellent option for moms since the program is entirely online. We would love to talk to you about the course on how it will work with your busy life as a mother. Please reach out to us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 1-800-411-7073. Take a look at this link for more details on the pharmacy technician course.

    Hope this helps!

  20. Career Step December 08, 2016

    Hi Sophie,
    Learning pharmacy math comes with practice, practice, and more practice, and we can definitely provide you with that!  You might also find it helpful to take some type of algebra refresher course before enrolling.

    Susan Tuckett, CMT, CPhT
    MT/MTE/Pharm Tech Instructor

  21. Sarah February 08, 2017

    I’m an Egyptian certified pharmacist( certified in Egypt), i live currently outside the states but planning on going to the states in a few months with my family( American husband and kids). I was wondering if i can take the online course before i move to the states? Will my degree be accepted in order to take the online course? I was thinking of working as a pharmacy technician till i get my equivalency exam.

  22. Graduate Support February 10, 2017

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for your message. We would like to talk to you more about your question.

    If you can email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) we would be able to let you know more about our graduate services, and how we can help you find employment.

    Best wishes!



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