Can You Become a Pharmacy Tech Without Going to School?

Posted on 06.22.2023

Written by: Des Sinkevich
Time to read: 6 minutes

You don’t have to go to school for years to become a pharmacy technician! In fact, becoming a pharmacy technician could be as simple as taking a training program and sitting for the right certification exams. Here’s what you need to know about becoming a certified pharmacy technician.

What are the requirements to become a certified pharmacy technician?

The requirements to become a certified pharmacy technician can vary by state. Some states have regulations in place that require a pharmacy technician to have specific education, experience, and credentials while in other states, you really just need to have a high school diploma. However, whatever your states pharmacy technician requirements, it’s never a bad idea to get certified. In general, the following steps are the standard route to become a credentialed pharm tech.

1. Earn your high school diploma or equivalent

The first step toward becoming a certified pharmacy technician is often earning your high school diploma or equivalent. Many training programs and employers expect candidates to have this minimum education on their resumes. In some states, having your diploma may be all you need to get a pharmacy tech job, but that ultimately will depend on where you’re applying.

2. Get formal training

If you want to become a certified pharmacy technician, you’ll need some type of formal training under your belt to help you get there. This training doesn’t necessarily need to be a college degree that takes you years to finish; in fact, many times, a shorter, career-focused program can be the best bet.

When you’re looking for a pharmacy tech training program, you’ll want to make sure that is recognized by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists® (ASHP) and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Recognition by these professional organizations ensures that what you’re learning aligns with industry standards and can properly prepare you for certification.

3. Get certified

Once you’ve completed your training program, your next step is to get certified. Common pharmacy technician certifications include the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) and the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT). You’ll need to sit for and pass one of the exams to be considered certified. As part of CareerStep’s Pharmacy Technician Training online, you’ll receive materials to help you prep for the exams!

4. Maintain certification

Once you’re certified and working in the field, you’ll have to maintain and renew your certification in order to stay up to date. You’ll renew every two years and that will involve completing some continuing education (CE) hours, which allow you to stay on top of new information and skills in the field.

Read more: A Day in the Life of a Pharmacy Technician

How long does it take to become a certified pharmacy technician?

The program that you decide to go with, as well as your personal investment in your training, can play a major role in how fast you are able to complete your certification. For example, if you choose a structured, in-person program, you may take a little longer to finish since you’re working on the timeline set up by the school you’re attending.

Online pharmacy technician training programs can offer more flexibility, allowing you to complete your courses around your schedule. Depending on how much time you have to work on your training, it’s possible to finish within a year or less.

Further, a strong training program will often include externship hours. In an externship, you’ll apply what you learned in your courses to hands-on work in an actual pharmacy. This can extend the amount of time it can take you to officially become a certified pharmacy technician, but externship hours are a vital part of training.

Read more: How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

How do I get certified to be a pharmacy technician?

To become a certified pharmacy technician, you need to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) Exam. Once you pass your PTCB exam, you can start working as a certified pharmacy technician. The PTCB exam is a 90-question, multiple-choice exam that currently tests on nine separate knowledge areas. Beginning in January 2020, the exam will be organized to test in four knowledge areas. Your score will range anywhere from 1,000 to 1,600, and to pass you need a score of 1,400 or more.

Why get certified as a pharmacy technician

If certification isn’t required to work as a pharmacy technician in your state, becoming certified can still be a smart move. Reasons to get certified include:

  • Standing out to employers. Even when it’s not a requirement, those who are certified may stand out more to employers. A busy pharmacy, whether in a retail or clinical setting, will prefer employees who know what they’re doing versus those who need more on-the-job training. By getting certified, you’ll show potential employers that you have the skills and knowledge that are essential to finding success on the job.
  • Earning more money. Ultimately, how much you make as a pharmacy technician can depend on a few different factors like where you work, the state you live in, and your work experience. However, certification can increase the chances that you’ll be paid more, with certified pharmacy techs often earning at least a few more dollars per hour versus non-certified technicians.
  • More job opportunities. Not every job may require you to be certified, but being certified could open up the door to more job opportunities as a pharmacy technician. For example, being a certified pharmacy technician could help you qualify for jobs in more clinical settings like hospitals or clinics versus retail pharmacies.

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Become a certified pharmacy technician online

It’s possible to take the first steps toward becoming a certified pharmacy technician online! To find out more about becoming a pharmacy tech online, visit CareerStep’s Pharmacy Technician Program. Learn how much you can earn by becoming a pharmacy tech, additional details about the program you will take, and if becoming a pharmacy technician is the career for you.