March 8, 2022
By: Nurse.org Staff
Medically reviewed by: Kathleen Gaines News and Education Editor, MSN, RN, BA, CBC
Looking for an essential health care career you can start right away? Becoming a pharmacy technician may be the choice for you!
As a pharmacy tech, you’ll work with licensed pharmacists to accurately and safely process patient prescriptions.
You won’t just count pills and label bottles: Pharmacy technicians’ responsibilities can include everything from processing and tracking insurance claims to preparing intravenous medications to managing the supply chain.
If you’re a stickler for details, enjoy helping people, and have strong critical thinking skills, you might have just found your calling. Read on to learn more and find out how to get started as a pharmacy technician.
We Found The Following Schools with Online Pharmacy Technician Programs
If you’ve ever picked up a prescription from your local pharmacy, chances are you interacted with a pharmacy technician. Working under the supervision of a pharmacist, a pharmacy technician helps both the pharmacist and the customer, often serving as a link between the two.
Depending upon the particular setting in which they work, pharmacy techs may be responsible for measuring, mixing and compounding medications, contacting doctors’ offices to confirm dosing instructions or to confirm their approval of prescription renewals.
Pharmacy techs work in all sorts of pharmacies, including those you see in grocery stores and department stores. Local and national drug stores offer a lot of pharmacy technician jobs.
Health systems with inpatient and outpatient pharmacies also hire these medical professionals to help process prescription requests.
The role of a pharmacy technician goes far beyond helping process prescription requests and taking care of packaging and labeling. Their work makes an enormous difference in the efficiency and safety of pharmacy operations.
Their job responsibilities include:
- Counting or measuring the accurate amount of medications
- Mixing compounds of medications
- Contacting physicians for authorization to refill prescriptions
- Packaging and labeling prescriptions.
- Collecting patient information and payments
- Recording patient medical records
- Updating medication inventory information
- Processing insurance paperwork
- Assisting with vaccinations
- Operating automated dispensing systems
- Advising patients on medications
- Organizing and ordering inventory
- Answering phone calls from customers
- Arranging for customers to speak with pharmacists
- Accepting payment for prescriptions and processing insurance claims
Though a pharmacy tech’s training program imparts specific technical knowledge, many times they are also expected to serve in a customer service role, running cash registers, answering phones, helping patients to locate over-the-counter medications on store shelves and connecting patients with pharmacists when they have questions.
What You Do Depends on Where You Work
A pharmacy technician’s job responsibilities will change depending upon their work environment:
- Retail: If they work in a retail setting such as a grocery store or drugstore, pharmacy techs work directly with customers who are likely patients. They may be given responsibility for monitoring inventory levels and responding to supply shortages.
- Healthcare: Pharmacy techs who work in hospitals or similar healthcare settings are more likely to deliver the drugs directly to other health professionals. They may also be tasked with preparing intravenous medication.
Show Me Pharmacy Technician Programs
A pharmacy technician’s work is invaluable. It helps the pharmacist work more effectively which helps keep patients safe.
As a result, pharm techs receive a solid compensation, with a national median annual salary of $36,740 in 2021 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,740, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $47,580. Pharmacy technicians that work in the hospital earn the highest wage.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for pharmacy technicians working in the following locations were:
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||$38,270|
|Food and beverage stores||$36,090|
|Pharmacies and drug stores||$35,940|
How much pharmacy technicians make varies depending upon a number of factors:
- Do they work full time or part-time?
- Do they work in a retail setting, a healthcare setting or elsewhere?
- What geographic region are they working in?
>> Related: The Complete Guide to Pharmacy Technician Salaries
Pharmacy Technician Salary by State
High salaries may often be accompanied by high costs of living. Below is a comprehensive listing of average pharmacy technician salaries by state along with the cost of living percentage for each one.
|State||AvgAnnual||AvgHourly||Cost of Living|
|District of Columbia||$45,030||$21.65||+49.20%|
Salary Source: BLS mean wages. Cost of Living reflects a percentage above or below the national average cost of living.
There was once a time when almost all pharmacy technicians got their training on the job. First, they would apply to work at a local pharmacy. After learning the cash register and how to stock shelves, the pharmacist would teach them how to type up labels, count out pills, and record all of the necessary patient and insurance information.
Though that route is still available, today most pharmacy techs enroll in formalized training programs that provide them with the specific knowledge and skills that they need to ensure a high quality of customer care and patient safety.
There are two distinct paths to becoming a pharmacy technician:
- Certificate or Diploma Program
- Associate’s Degree Program
1. Pharmacy Technician Certificate or Diploma Program
The fastest route to becoming a pharmacy technician is through a certificate or diploma program.
How Long Does it Take?
These take around two semesters, or one year to complete. Some states will require you to pass a certification exam after your program.
What are the Prerequisites?
Before entering into a pharmacy technician training program you may need:
- High school diploma or GED
- Placement test scores
- Background check
Are Pharmacy Technician Certificate Programs Available Online?
Yes! You can find Pharmacy Technician Certificate programs available both in-person at your local community college, or through online-only programs.
What Do You Learn?
The curriculum in one of these job training programs is likely to include courses such as:
- Pharmacy Law
- Drug Classifications
- Community Pharmacy Practice
- Institutional Pharmacy Practice
- Introduction to Health Professions
- Pharmaceutical Math
- Compounding Sterile Preparations
We Found The Following Schools with Online Pharmacy Technician Programs
2. Pharmacy Technician Associate’s Degree Program
Pharmacy technician associate’s degree programs provide a greater depth of study in the pharmaceutical sciences and in management and customer service, as well as gen ed classes.
How Long Does it Take?
Associate’s degree programs take approximately two years to complete.
What are the Prerequisites?
Before entering into the program you may need:
- High school diploma or GED
- Placement test scores
- Background check
Are Pharmacy Technician Associate's Degree Programs Available Online?
Yes! Just like certificate programs, you can also find associates pharmacy technician programs available online.
What Do You Learn?
The courses offered in an associate's program are more rigorous than those offered through certificate and diploma programs. Some programs also include in-person clinical training and a pharmacy practice internship.
Which Pharmacy Technician Program is Right for You?
Prospective pharmacy technicians who are considering an undergraduate degree in the future may want to go with an associates’ degree, as many of their credits can be applied to a future degree.
Those who graduate from an associate’s degree program may find themselves in greater demand or eligible for more generous compensation. Often, degree holders are better positioned for advancement.
The choice between these two paths will depend on your goals and the amount of money you have available to invest in your education, but it is important to select a program that is accredited.
The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) accredit pharm tech training programs.
An accreditation seal from one or both of these organizations tells your future employers that your degree program aligns with pharmacy standards and best practices.
Show Me Pharmacy Technician Programs
After completing your training program, you will likely need to become certified or licensed. This will depend on the state you work in. Licenses from your state’s Board of Pharmacy grant you the ability to work at the state level, while certification is national.
Pharmacy Technician License
Some states will require you to have a pharmacy technician license in order to work. This will be given to you by a government agency and it proves you're competent to perform the duties of the job.
Pharmacy Technician Certification
Certification is another way to prove you've completed the required education and gained the necessary skills to work in this career. Unlike a license, a certificate comes through a third-party agency and not your state’s government.
These two associations issue pharmacy technician certificates:
Both will require you to pass a Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) to be certified. Your certification will last two years.
Even if you don't work in a state that requires you to get a license, you'll likely want to attain your national certification.
Pharmacy Technician License & Certification Requirements by State
States Where Pharmacy Technicians Must be Registered or Licensed
- West Virginia
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
- Washington D.C.
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
States Where Pharmacy Technicians Must be Nationally Certified and Registered or Licensed
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- Puerto Rico
States Where There Are No Requirements for Pharmacy Technician Licensing
- New York
As a pharmacy technician, you’ll likely never have to worry about job security. As the U.S. population continues to age, the demand for prescription medications will only increase, and there will be a continuing need for professionals who are able to ensure that they are filled safely, efficiently, and in keeping with all regulations.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to continue to grow at a rate of approximately 4% by the end of the decade. About 31,700 openings for pharmacy technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade.
Pharmacy techs who pursue credentialing from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) are required to pursue continuing education credits in order to maintain their status. The same is not true for those who limit their credentials to having graduated from certificate programs.
There are a number of certification programs available through the PTCB, including:
- Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) - Must be renewed every two years by completing a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education
- Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician (CSPT) - demonstrates expertise in compounded sterile preparation practice
- Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv) – demonstrates advanced experience as a pharmacy technician
- Medication History Certificate – demonstrates the knowledge needed to collect in-depth and accurate medical histories, to review prescriptions to confirm dosing accuracy, and more.
- Technician Product Verification Certificate – demonstrates ability to protect patients from dispensing errors
- Hazardous Drug Management Certificate – demonstrates commitment to minimizing risk from hazardous drugs
- Billing and Reimbursement Certificate – demonstrates knowledge of third-party payers and reimbursements systems
- Controlled Substances Diversion Prevention Certificate – demonstrates knowledge of controlled substance diversion protection strategies and DEA requirements
- Immunization Certificate – demonstrates knowledge and skills needed to safely administer vaccinations to patients.
Those who have completed a minimum of four programs, including TPV and/or Medication History or three programs and the CSPT certification and who have at least three years of work experience will be eligible to earn the CPhT-Adv credential.
Show Me Pharmacy Technician Programs
Many community colleges offer pharmacy technician programs. Once again, be sure your program has accreditation from the ACPE or the ASHP.
For more information on programs and what the career involves, you can visit the ASHP website, the website for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), or the website for the National Pharmacy Tech Association (NPTA).
You can also learn more about pharmacy techs by talking to some on LinkedIn or other social media platforms. Or, if you happen to be visiting a pharmacy during a slow time, why not ask the tech on duty about life in this profession?
What does a pharmacy technician do?
- Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a pharmacist to accurately prepare and distribute patient medications. Duties may include collecting and recording accurate patient records, using technology to maintain inventory and place orders, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
What do pharmacy technicians make per hour?
- The average hourly wage for pharmacy technicians is $17.66 or $36,740 per year according to the BLS.
- (Video) Pharmacy technicians Study guide | is it worth becoming a pharmacy technicians | pharmacy tech
How do you become a certified pharmacy technician?
- Those interested in becoming a pharmacy tech can pursue a variety of paths, but those who complete a two-year Associate’s Degree program generally earn high salaries and are able to find a job more easily. Certificate and diploma programs that are completed in two semesters are also available.
Related Healthcare Careers You May Be Interested In:
- Healthcare Administration Career Guide
- Medical Assistant Career Guide
'I enjoy my job enormously since I have always wanted to be a part of the healthcare industry and have been interested in the wonders these medicines can do. My favourite part is interacting with the clients, preparing the medications for them and describing to them how to take the medicines'.What should I say in a pharmacy tech interview? ›
- What Makes You Want to Work in a Pharmacy?
- What Do You Prioritize to Ensure the Pharmacy Is Operating Efficiently?
- What Do You Consider When Storing Medications?
- How Do You Handle Demanding Customers?
- How Do You Resolve Prescription Errors?
- Preparing new prescription and refill requests for patients.
- Dispensing medication to patients per the prescription, or provider's orders.
- Packing and labeling a prescribed medication.
- Processing insurance claims.
- Tracking inventory.
How to become a pharmacy technician. You'll need to complete a two-year accredited pharmacy technician course involving a mix of practical work experience and study. You'll usually be employed by a pharmacy as a pre-registration trainee pharmacy technician and study for a level 3 apprenticeship.What skills do pharmacy techs need? ›
- Customer service.
- Explaining medical directions.
- Explaining costs.
- Answering customer questions.
- Knowledge of medical and pharmaceutical terms.
- Customer-Service Skills. Much of a Pharmacy Technician's time is spent with customers. ...
- Detail Oriented. ...
- Listening Skills. ...
- Math Skills. ...
- Organizational Skills. ...
- Multi-tasking Ability. ...
- Sound Judgment.
Filling Each Prescription
Confirming prescription orders is just the first task. Next, comes filling each prescription. Pharmacy technicians are taught how to compound medicines.
Because pharmacy technicians do not undergo the medical training that pharmacists do, they are barred from advising customers on medications, including over-the-counter drugs and diet supplements.How much do pharmacy technicians make? ›
Pharmacy technicians earn a median salary of $36,740 annually in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Take a look at median annual pharm tech salaries by state. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031.How hard is pharmacy technician? ›
It takes two years of training to become a pharmacy technician, requiring a blend of practical experience and academic study. You can undertake courses either through remote learning or via in-class lectures.
Being a pharmacy technician is not easy work. There are many responsibilities that come with being in this field of work; however, they are all necessary parts of the job description that make up much less than 50% of what you do each day! For example, some days you might have to fill over 200 prescriptions.How long is pharmacy tech course? ›
PHARMACY TECHNICIAN DIPLOMA PROGRAM
We have ongoing enrollment all year round to help you build a future you can be proud of in as little as 10 months.
Pharmacy technicians need to know and have a strong grasp on basic algebra. For example, as a pharmacy technician, you will find yourself completing equations to determine how much of one ingredient you need to add to another.What are three duties of a pharmacy technician? ›
- Accurately prepare and distribute patient medications;
- Perform calculations;
- Prepare sterile medicines including those used to treat cancer;
- Collect accurate patient information.
- Process third party billing claims and assist with prior authorization completion;
The primary goal of anyone working in pharmacy is to dispense medication in a quick and accurate manner. Accuracy is more important. Giving the customer the right medication and the right dosage can be a real matter of life or death.What is your greatest strength as pharmacy technician? ›
A strong ability to be empathic, and good communication and interpersonal skills can help resolve customer conflicts. This question should be answered with a description of strategies you use to manage aggressive customers.What are three types of skills needed to be a pharmacist? ›
- Attention to detail. Pharmacists should exhibit high levels of accuracy in their daily tasks. ...
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills. ...
- Strong skills in science and mathematics. ...
- Management skills. ...
- Ability to multitask. ...
- Confidentiality. ...
- Great analytical skills. ...
- Computer skills.
A pharmacy technician's core responsibilities revolve around filling prescriptions for customers, including the mixing, measurement, counting, and recording of prescribed quantities and dosage levels.Why should we hire you answer best? ›
Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results. You never know what other candidates offer to the company. But you know you: emphasize your key skills, strengths, talents, work experience, and professional achievements that are fundamental to getting great things done on this position.How do you handle stress and pressure? ›
- Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. ...
- Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. ...
- Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high.
Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.Where do most pharmacy techs work? ›
Pharmacy technicians work primarily in pharmacies, including those found in grocery and drug stores, and in hospitals.What does a pharmacy technician wear to work on a daily basis? ›
A pharmacy technician works in a clean and orderly retail or hospital pharmacy, typically wearing business casual clothing underneath a lab coat or some kind of uniform if required.How can I introduce myself in 1 minute in interview? ›
The initial few minutes of greeting each other let the interviewer get an idea of how confident you are. First, greet the interviewer with a big smile and go for a handshake. Describe yourself stating your full name and a brief introduction. Just give a small detail about your family.How long do pharmacy school interviews last? ›
It is the responsibility of the applicant to frequently check their PharmCAS account and their email communications throughout the admission cycle for updates to their status with CNUCOP. Interview sessions typically last 5-6 hours.What questions do they ask in a pharmacy school interview? ›
- Describe the qualities you feel make a successful pharmacist. ...
- What role do you feel pharmacists play in the success of healthcare teams? ...
- Why did you choose this pharmacology program and not another one?
- Pharmacy technician informaticist. ...
- Pharmacy technician level one. ...
- Pharmacy technician level two. ...
- Pharmacy technician level three. ...
- Retail pharmacist technician. ...
- Private pharmacy technician. ...
- Compound pharmacy technician. ...
- Hospital pharmacy technician.
There are no set entry requirements, but most employers will expect good literacy, numeracy, and IT skills. They may ask for GCSEs or equivalent qualification and some relevant work experience. Even where it is not specified, experience in a customer service role would be an advantage.What happens if a pharmacy technician makes a mistake? ›
This could be a question that has passed through your mind if you have ever made a mistake at the pharmacy, no matter the setting or the severity of the act. Although it is rare, pharmacy technicians can go to jail or prison for a medication error, depending on the state and circumstance.Do pharmacy techs make mistakes? ›
As a pharmacy technician, it is easy to make mistakes. However, mistakes are not always caught. In fact, research shows that only 85 percent of mistakes are caught by pharmacy technicians before the medication gets to the patient. Dispensing medication is inherently risky and a cause for concern.
The work can be stressful as a Pharmacy Technician, and you will find yourself trying to do everything at once and in a timely manner. Some customers are awful, but most are kind and considerate. This job has taught me how to stay calm and be compassionate to others, even if they treat me poorly.What is a passing score for the PTCB exam? ›
These estimates were analyzed for consistency and averaged to produce the passing score. The passing score and candidate results are reported as scaled scores. The passing scaled score for the PTCE is 1,400. The range of possible PTCE scores based on the exam outline is 1,000 to 1,600.What state pays pharmacy techs the most? ›
|Total Pharmacist Technician Jobs:||267|
|Average Annual Salary:||$48,756|
|Lowest 10 Percent Earn:||$39,000|
|Highest 10 Percent Earn:||$60,000|
- Avella Specialty Pharmacy. 3.1 $28.24per hour. 109 reviews31 salaries reported.
- US Department of Veterans Affairs. 3.8 $24.73per hour. ...
- Option Care Health. 2.8 $22.15per hour. ...
- Catalent Pharma Solutions. 3.1 $21.43per hour. ...
- Banner Health. 3.6 $21.23per hour. ...
- Show more companies.
A Self Study Workshop Recognized In All 50 States
As a Certified Pharmacy Technician, you can enjoy increased earning power, job flexibility and growth opportunities. The Pharmacy Technician Certification self study workshop teaches you from the ground up. You work at your own pace.
You will be in a career with a great job outlook.
The job outlook for a pharmacy technician is expected to have a positive outlook into 2030. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate at which jobs for this occupation are being added to the market by the year 2030 is expected to be at a rate of about 4%.
If you can work as a pharmacy technician prior to attempting entry into a pharmacy school, you will have an even greater advantage for getting into pharmacy school. One plan for getting into pharmacy school is to become a pharmacy technician first and work your way up.What do CVS pharmacy techs wear? ›
The retail employee dress code consists of black or tan pants and a store-provided CVS shirt for cashiers and front-of-store employees. Pharmacy technicians wear hospital scrubs, while pharmacists wear business casual clothes under their lab coats.Is pharmacy tech a good job for introverts? ›
Absolutely, introverts are great listeners, and it's more important for the pharmacy technician to take the time to listen to all the patient has to say and even pick up on body language cues of things they might not say.What kind of questions are on the PTCB exam? ›
What is on the PTCB? The PTCB asks questions on the following categories - pharmacology, pharmacy law, sterile and non-sterile compounding, medication safety, pharmacy quality assurance, medication order entry, pharmacy inventory management, pharmacy billing and reimbursement, and pharmacy information systems usage.
The training consists of a four-year course leading to a classified Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, followed by one year of internship at any approved Hospital Pharmacy and/or Pharmaceutical Industry/Regulatory authority following which candidates must do a professional examination before being declared as Pharmacists.How long does it take to get a diploma in pharmacy? ›
The Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree program requires at least two years of specific undergraduate college study followed by four academic years (or three calendar years) of professional pharmacy study. Most students enter a pharmacy degree program after completion of three or more years of college.How long does it take to get a pharmacy tech CVS? ›
This involves an online application, a phone screening, and an in-person interview. The hiring process takes one to five weeks, with some positions requiring more comprehensive processes.Why you want to be a pharmacy technician and your ambitions for the future? ›
One of the many benefits of becoming a pharmacy technician is that there is plenty of room for career progression in the pharmaceutical industry, as continuous advancements in this sector open doors to new roles, with the opportunity to specialise in a variety of areas.Why are you interested in technician? ›
"I'm interested in a career in technology because I want to use my skills and knowledge to make other people's jobs easier and more productive. I believe IT support technicians are important team members for any organization because they combine technical knowledge with interpersonal skills.Why do you want to be a technician? ›
“I love being a technician because helping companies run efficient systems literally makes everyday life better for users. The thing I don't like is when system upgrades and maintenance interrupt work and activities of others. As a technician, you try to avoid this, but sometimes you end up disrupting others.”Why do I want to be pharmacy? ›
Pharmacists' unique expertise and knowledge makes them essential members of the healthcare team. You'll combine a love of science with a desire to improve lives and be rewarded with a stimulating career across a range of settings and industries.What is the most important aspect of being a pharmacy technician? ›
Ensuring the safety of customers is the most important part of a pharmacy technician's job. Giving a patient the wrong medication can be more than an inconvenience—it could harm them. Pharmacy technicians need to be careful and methodical about filling prescriptions and compounding medications.Is working as a pharmacy tech hard? ›
Being a pharmacy technician is not easy work. There are many responsibilities that come with being in this field of work; however, they are all necessary parts of the job description that make up much less than 50% of what you do each day! For example, some days you might have to fill over 200 prescriptions.How do you answer a question you don't know in technical interview? ›
- Take your time. ...
- Think aloud. ...
- Admit you're unsure. ...
- Use flexible thinking. ...
- Repeat the question. ...
- Ask follow-up questions. ...
- Offer to come back to the question later. ...
- Acknowledge the question's value.
/tekˈnɪʃ·ən/ a worker trained with special skills or knowledge, esp. in how to operate machines or equipment used in science: an X-ray technician. a laboratory technician.Do you have to be smart to be a technician? ›
Technicians are smart individuals and need to be recognized for their intelligence. It is no longer the greasy and dirty field it used to be. Vehicles today are changing by the minute with the advancements in technology. As a technician, It is important to understand your own worth when looking for a shop to work at.What questions are asked in a pharmacy interview? ›
- Tell me about yourself. ...
- Tell me about your experience as a pharmacist. ...
- Why did you become a pharmacist? ...
- What do you like best about being a pharmacist? ...
- What do you like least about being a pharmacist? ...
- What is your greatest strength? ...
- What is your greatest weakness?
With required topics such as pharmacology, pharmacotherapy, and pharmacokinetics, there can be no doubt that pharmacy school is hard. According to the American Associations of Colleges of Pharmacy it is estimated that more than 10% of people who make it into pharmacy school do not make it through to graduation day .