10 Facts You Need to Get Straight About a Pharmacy Technician Career [& How to Get Started]

Posted on 05.12.2019

If you’ve ever considered a career as a pharmacy technician, there are a few things you need to know. Proper training and education are key components to a successful pharmacy technician career, but there are also other factors to consider like future job growth, employment availability, and advancement opportunities.

To help you decide if a pharmacy technician career is right for you, here are 10 facts about the pharmacy technician career path and how to get started.

1. Why Becoming a Pharmacy Technician Is a Good Career

Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of licensed pharmacists to complete a wide range of administrative tasks, from communicating with patients to filling prescriptions. This is a well-paying job with flexible work hours and minimal educational requirements (ranging from four months to two years) which makes it a great choice for a career change later in life or a starting point for ambitious college students.

A pharmacy technician career is also a stable one with ample employment opportunities and increasing demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for pharmacy technicians is bright with an above-average growth rate. As such, there are plenty of job opportunities nationwide, which is a bonus for those who relocate often.

2. What is the Pharmacy Technician Career Path?

The pharmacy technician career path is diverse and full of advancement opportunities. Individuals may begin in a technician position, but they can always advance up the pharmacy technician career ladder or branch out into a different field.

Pharmacy technicians can earn a number of specialty certifications to qualify for higher-paying positions, they can continue their education to earn their doctoral degree and become a pharmacist, or they can transition to a different path in pharmaceutical sales, management, or compounding.

3. How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

The time it takes to become a pharmacy technician will vary according to which program you choose to enroll in. Traditional schooling on campus typically takes about two years to complete. CareerStep offers a pharmacy technician training program online that our learners can complete in as little as four months.

In addition to the expedited time frame, CareerStep’s program is designed for flexibility and practicality, allowing learners to earn their certification around their busy schedules without feeling overwhelmed or easily discouraged. You can complete the program on your own terms, whether that includes a few hours after you put your kiddos to sleep, or after you get home from your current day job.

Once you have completed the training program of your choice, the next step is to earn your certification through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) with a passing score on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).

4. What are the Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

In order to be eligible for a certification through the PTCB, applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, pass a background check, comply with PTCB policies, and pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam.

But these requirements don’t fully encompass what it takes to become a pharmacy technician. Candidates will also need to complete an accredited pharmacy tech training program, acquire on-the-job experience, and apply for an internship or externship.

CareerStep provides additional support and resources to help you reach your career goals and succeed as a pharmacy technician. Our professional career advisors are with you every step of the way, from your first lesson to your first official job in your new career.

Begin your pharmacy technician career path today with CareerStep.

5. What Is a Pharmacy Technician Salary?

The average salary for a pharmacy technician ranges between $26,000 and $39,000. Broken down into hourly pay, the position averages at about $13.09 – $15.00 per hour — and this is just starting out.

The pharmacy technician career ladder is full of opportunities to increase your pay and your title. A lead pharmacy technician in a hospital setting can earn anywhere from $14 to $18 per hour.

While these estimates are a good baseline to go off of, keep in mind that the average pay does vary depending on where you live. A recent report on ZipRecruiter revealed the highest and lowest-paying states in America for pharmacy technicians.

New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland were among the highest with an average hourly rate of around $15. North Carolina, Florida, and Missouri ranked at the very bottom with an average hourly wage of less than $13.

Regardless of where you live or what your starting base pay is, pharmacy technician career advancement is promising. Pharmacy techs can advance by way of internal promotions, additional specialty certifications, or more advanced positions like a nuclear pharmacy technician.

6. What Does Job Outlook for Pharmacy Technicians Look Like?

Senior population and growth will continue to open up a lot of job opportunities for Pharmacy Technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects the career will grow more than twelve percent through 2026 (faster than the average occupation).

Local demand will only continue to grow due to a great number of factors, including advances in pharmaceutical research, increases in flu shots, higher rates of chronic illness, etc.

7. Why Do People Become Pharmacy Technicians?

There are so many perks and advantages that draw people to the pharmacy technician career path. The minimal education requirements make this a great career switch for later in life, and the pharmacy technician career advancement opportunities make for a promising lifetime career.

Furthermore, pharmacy tech positions are bountiful, supplying steady, secure work to people around the nation. Pair this with the fact that pharmacy technicians receive a national certification, and you’ve got a secure career that allowed for easy relocation if ever you have to move to a new state.

To top it all off, pharmacy technicians are paid well for the work they do, and they get the added benefit of having a flexible work schedule.

The real question is, why don’t more people become pharmacy technicians?

8. Where Do Most Pharmacy Technicians Work?

Pharmacy technicians have a variety of options to choose from regarding their place of work, and should you decide to relocate to a whole new area, your certification can come along with you.

A career in retail pharmaceuticals is the most common, as job availability is ample and the pharmacy technician duties are of the most basic caliber.

Another popular choice is to work in a hospital setting, although these positions require a greater understanding of medical knowledge and the ability to work closely with medical staff and healthcare providers.

Nursing homes, assisted living centers, and mental health institutions fall under the category of a closed-door pharmacy, which may require an extended knowledge of the unique needs of the exclusive customer base.

Compounding pharmacies require an advanced level of training and specialty certifications. Above-average math skills are a must, in addition to organization and acute attention to detail.

Pharmacy technicians also have the option to work for a mail-order pharmacy. While this job description will include less customer communication face to face, technicians can still expect to communicate with patients and third parties to verify information and fill prescriptions.

9. What Other Jobs Can a Pharmacy Technician Do?

The pharmacy technician career path can lead into a variety of different careers in the pharmaceutical industry. Technicians can choose to climb the pharmacy technician career ladder internally, or they can branch off and pursue a different line of work at a pharmaceutical company, a research lab, the pharmaceutical sales force, and beyond.

Pharmacy technicians can also go on to work deeper in the healthcare setting as medical assistants and the like.

10. What Type of Scholarship Opportunities are There for Becoming a Pharmacy Technician?

An important part of becoming a pharmacy technician is applying for internships and externships that give you the opportunity to gain valuable experience before you even begin your pharmacy technician career.

Maisha Martin, a certified pharmacy technician (CPhT) and single mother of 2, found her externship to be a crucial part of her career path. She states, “CareerStep enabled me to gain both book knowledge and, most importantly, experience through the externship program, all of which gave me everything I needed to successfully pass the PTCB Exam and obtain my national certification. The externship played such a large role in my success because I learned so much over the 180 hours and I was able to gain hands-on experience and network with the pharmacists there.

You’ll find that the best accredited pharmacy technician programs offer externship opportunities with reputable pharmaceutical chains near you. Speak with a counselor at your school or with your pharmacy technician program to learn more about the externships they have to offer.

Tips for Getting a Pharmacy Tech Internship

Use these tips to land your first internship and kickstart your pharmacy technician career path.

  • Talk with someone you know who has experience in the industry for professional insight about the field and what employers are looking for in their interns.
  • Contact your school or technician program and ask what options they have available as far as internships go.
  • Start researching internship possibilities early on, so you don’t miss any application deadlines.
  • Update your resume and start practicing your interview skills.
  • Make a list of places you want to work at start applying for internship programs. Keep in mind that there is a slight difference between retail and hospital internships. Hospital internships may have higher requirements for their interns, as pharmacy technicians in a hospital setting are expected to know more about the medical field than those in retail.

BONUS FACT: How Do I Obtain a Job as a Pharmacy Technician?

Are you ready to take the first step in beginning your pharmacy technician career path? Learn all about CareerStep’s accredited Pharmacy Technician Program. We provide learners with an online program designed to blend well with busy schedules and other responsibilities.

Once you complete the program, our experienced career advisors will set you up with all the resources and connections you need to prepare for the PTCE, spruce up your resume, practice your interviewing skills, obtain an externship, and everything else you need to create a successful and rewarding pharmacy technician career path.

Begin your brand new future today with CareerStep’s online Pharmacy Technician Program.