How Much Schooling Do You Need to Be a Pharmacy Technician?

If you’re interested in becoming a pharmacy technician you may be wondering how much schooling you need. The answer may vary depending on the state you’re in, but in general, you’ll need to complete a pharmacy technician training program and pass a certification exam. Keep reading to learn more about the schooling requirements for pharmacy technicians

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The Basic Requirements

In order to become a pharmacy technician, you will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. You will also need to complete a pharmacy technician training program. After you have completed these requirements, you will be able to take the pharmacy technician certification exam

High School Diploma or GED

A pharmacy technician typically needs a high school diploma or equivalent and must complete on-the-job training. Some states have formal education programs for pharmacy technicians, which may offer classroom and hands-on training. Employers also may provide training.

Completing a Pharmacy Technician Training Program

There are many pharmacy technician training programs available to help you get started in this career field. Most programs will last between six and twelve weeks, and will give you the skills and knowledge you need to be a successful pharmacy technician.

Nationally Accredited

Nationally accredited pharmacy technician programs are available at many community colleges, trade schools and technical institutes across the country. These programs generally take one to two years to complete and lead to a career diploma or certificate.

Most pharmacy technician training programs include classroom instruction as well as hands-on training in a lab setting. Classroom topics may include medical terminology, pharmacology, ethics, law and mathematics. Students will also learn about the proper handling and preparation of medications.

In the lab, students will get the opportunity to practice their skills by compounding medications and measuring dosages. They may also participate in externships at local pharmacies, which can give them real-world experience working with patients and dispensing medications.

After completing a nationally accredited pharmacy technician program graduates must then pass a standardized exam to earn their certification. Once they are certified, they can then apply for state licensure (if required) and begin working in a pharmacy.


In order to become a state-licensed pharmacy technician, you must complete a pharmacy technician training program that has been accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) and is registered with the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). You can find a list of accredited programs on the PTCB website.

Once you have completed an accredited program, you must then pass the pharmacy technician certification exam (PTCE) in order to become certified. The PTCE is a computer-based exam that covers the following topics:

-Drug classifications
-Dosage forms
-Pharmacy calculations
-Sterile compounding
-Patient safety
-Pharmacy law and ethics
-Medication history taking importance

Upon passing the PTCE, you will receive your certification from the PTCB. Once you are certified, you will need to maintain your certification by completing 20 hours of continuing education every two years and passing a recertification exam every six years.


A pharmacy technician is a health care professional who works in a pharmacy under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health care providers.

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)

The PTCE is administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, complete an accredited pharmacy technician training program, and pass the PTCE to earn certification.

The PTCE is a computer-based exam that consists of 90 multiple-choice questions. Applicants are given two hours to complete the exam. The exam covers nine knowledge domains:
-Pharmacology for Technicians
-Patient Safety
-Medication Order Entry and Fill Process
-Medication Order Review
-Medication Reconciliation
-Pharmacy Quality Assurance
-Pharmacy Inventory Management
-Patient Counseling

Certificants must recertify every two years to maintain their credential.

The Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT)

The Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT) is a computer-based exam administered by the National Healthcare Association (NHA). Upon successful completion of the ExCPT, candidates earn the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) credential. The ExCPT covers five major content areas:

1. Pharmacology
2. pharmaceutical calculations
3. patient safety and quality assurance
4. pharmacy operations and management
5. pharmacy ethics and boundaries

Continuing Education

Many pharmacy technicians gain their initial experience in the military. Others start out in retail pharmacies or other healthcare settings. A few states require certification, but many don’t. Some employers prefer to hire certified pharmacy technicians, but certification is not always necessary.

Required for Certification Renewal

Most pharmacy technician certification programs require continuing education (CE) for programmatic or credential maintenance purposes. CE requirements may include attending live or recorded webinars, completing online modules, or reading journal articles. The number of CE credits required for each renewal cycle and the reporting period for those credits may vary by program.

Optional Courses and Programs

In addition to on-the-job training, some pharmacy technicians may choose to enroll in continuing education courses or programs to ensure that they are up-to-date on the latest information and advancements in the field. Although not required, these courses can be beneficial for those who wish to enhance their knowledge and skillset.

Some colleges and universities offer certificate or diploma programs specifically for pharmacy technicians, which can be completed in one year or less. These programs often include both classroom instruction and hands-on lab experience, and may cover topics such as pharmacy law, medical ethics, pharmacy calculations, and pharmacology.

After completing a certificate or diploma program, some pharmacy technicians may decide to pursue an Associate’s degree in a related field. While an Associate’s degree is not required to work as a pharmacy technician, it can lead to advanced job opportunities and higher salaries.

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