How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

How long does it take to become a pharmacy technician? The answer may depend on your previous experience, education, and training.

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The Training Process

The pharmacy technician training process requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Students must complete an accredited pharmacy technician training program, which typically takes one to two years to complete. After completing the accredited training program, pharmacy technicians must pass a national certification examination.

Online Programs

Online pharmacy tech programs are ideal for those who want to get their training done from the comfort of their own homes. These programs are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer a more flexible and convenient way to learn than traditional classroom-based programs.

Most online pharmacy tech programs can be completed in as little as six months, although some may take up to a year to finish. Coursework varies depending on the program you choose, but you can expect to take courses in subjects such as medical terminology, pharmacology, prescription drug dispersion, mathematics, and customer service.

Once you have completed your online pharmacy tech program, you will need to pass a national certification exam in order to become certified. After becoming certified, you will be able to start working as a pharmacy technician at a variety of healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and other settings.

Classroom Programs

While there are many ways to become a pharmacy technician, most technicians complete a pharmacy technician program offered at a community college or technical school. These programs typically take one to two years to complete and include both classroom and laboratory coursework. Some states require certification or registration in addition to completing an accredited program.

During their program, students learn about different aspects of pharmacy practice, including:

-Anatomy and physiology
-Medical terminology
-Dosage forms
-Pharmacy calculations
-Pharmacy law and ethics
-Sterile compounding
-Inventory management
-Patient confidentiality

After completing their program, students are prepared to take the pharmacy technician certification exam (PTCE) administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Upon passing the PTCE, technicians can then apply for state registration or certification, if required.


The pharmacy technician certification exam (PTCE) is a computer-based exam administered by Pearson VUE. You must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be eligible to take the PTCE. Once you have completed your training and education, you will be eligible to sit for the PTCE.

National Certification

The National Certification Board for Pharmacy Technicians (NCPBT) offers the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) credential. To be eligible for certification, candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent, complete a training program, and pass a national exam. Once certified, technicians must renew their credential every two years by completing 20 hours of continuing education and passing a recertification exam.

State Certification

In order to become a certified pharmacy technician, you must first complete a state-approved education program and pass a national certification exam.

State certification requirements vary, but most programs include both classroom and hands-on training. Classroom instruction covers topics such as medical terminology, pharmacology, and pharmacy law. During the hands-on training component of your program, you’ll get to practice working with prescription medications in a real pharmacy setting.

Once you’ve completed your education and training, you’ll need to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) in order to earn your certification. The PTCE is administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). To be eligible to take the exam, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent (such as a GED), and must have completed an accredited pharmacy technician program.

Once you’ve passed the exam, you’ll need to renew your certification every two years by completing 20 hours of continuing education and paying a renewal fee.

The Job Market

The Pharmacy Technician field is expected to grow much faster than other occupations from 2018 to 2028, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 There will be approximately 41,600 new jobs during that time. With an aging population and advances in pharmaceuticals, the demand for technicians will continue to grow. The role of the pharmacy technician is becoming more specialized and complex, so those who have the right training and credentials will be in high demand.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for pharmacy technicians is good. Employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow 12 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As the baby-boomer population ages, there will be an increase in the number of prescriptions for medications. This increase will lead to more demand for pharmaceutical services and more jobs for pharmacy technicians.

In addition, as new drugs are developed and released to the market, there will be a need for technicians to assist pharmacists in dispensing these medications.


While the specific salary you can earn as a pharmacy technician will depend on a number of factors, including your experience, education, and geographic location, you can expect to earn a decent wage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for pharmacy technicians was $32,700 in 2018. This means that half of all pharmacy technicians earned less than this amount and half earned more.

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