Pharmacy Technician: Educational Overview

Sep 12, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a pharmacy technician. Get a quick overview of the requirements - including job duties, degree programs and certification - to see if this career is right for you.

Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of settings where they assist pharmacists with filling patient prescriptions. In some settings, they interact extensively with patients and other customers. They are required to have a high school diploma and may need on-the-job training, registration or certification. Prospective pharmacy technicians can also complete certificate or associate's degree programs, and voluntary certification is available in this field.

Essential Information

Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists with patients and their prescriptions. Most pharmacy technicians need at least a high school diploma, and they receive on-the-job training. Pharmacy techs must be registered with their state, which entails completing an exam and/or a formal training program.

Required Education HS diploma or equivalent is common; some pharmacy technicians are required to complete formal training programs
Other Requirements State registration or certification may be required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 9%
Median Salary (2018)* $30,410

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Overview

While there currently are no federal requirements to become a pharmacy technician, most employers desire some formal education. Prospective pharmacy technicians will need a high school education at the minimum. On-the-job training is usually required and can take anywhere from 3-12 months to complete, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (

Additionally, employers may require more specialized education. Community colleges and technical schools, among other institutions, offer associate degree or certificate programs specific to becoming a pharmacy technician. These programs combine classroom and laboratory learning. Many programs include internships, so students can gain important hands-on experience. Other common course offerings for these programs include:

  • Recordkeeping in a pharmacy setting
  • Pharmaceutical techniques
  • Pharmaceutical calculations
  • Laws and ethics in a pharmacy setting
  • Pharmaceutical and medical terminology

Employers always value a candidate with some form of experience. Several important ways to get experience are to obtain an internship through your school, apply to work as a pharmacy aide or volunteer at a hospital.

Certification Information

Certification for pharmacy technicians is typically voluntary for most states. Still, pharmacy techs must be registered with their state. Many organizations provide certification for pharmacy technicians. Two such organizations that administer national certification examinations are the National Healthcareer Association and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.

Employers welcome technicians who hold certification, including potentially refunding any fees associated with becoming certified. Pharmacy technicians must meet minimum requirements, pass an exam and complete continuing education in order to retain certification. Renewal of these certifications is required every two years. You must complete 20 hours of continuing education to fulfill the recertification requirements.

Career Functions and Information

Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists with dispensing medication to patients. Pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies at drug stores as well as hospitals, nursing homes, standard pharmacies and other assisted living facilities. Some states may have slightly different laws governing what pharmacy technicians can and cannot do legally. Still, the core of pharmacy technicians responsibilities remain similar. Job duties include:

  • Receiving and confirming prescriptions
  • Consulting with doctors offices
  • Filling prescriptions
  • Labeling prescription containers
  • Packaging medications for patients
  • Providing customer service
  • Receiving and dispersing money
  • Maintaining patient profiles and insurance forms

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2018, the median annual salary for pharmacy technicians was $32,700, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The number of jobs for pharmacy technicians were expected to increase by 7% from 2018-2028, the BLS estimated, which is faster than the national average for all occupations.

Pharmacy technicians can work in pharmacies, nursing homes, hospitals, or assisted living facilities. They consult with doctors and patients, and assist with filling, labeling and packaging prescriptions. A high school diploma is required to do this job, and demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 7% through the year 2028.

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