What do You Need to be a Pharmacy Tech?

If you’re thinking about becoming a pharmacy technician you might be wondering what you need to get started. In this post, we’ll cover the basics of what you’ll need to get started in this exciting field.

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The Job

A pharmacy technician is a health care professional who works closely with pharmacists and other health care providers. They help prepare and dispense medications, and they also provide customer service and support. If you’re interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, there are a few things you’ll need to do. First, you’ll need to complete a pharmacy technician training program. Next, you’ll need to pass a certification exam. Finally, you’ll need to get a state license.

Duties of a pharmacy tech

A pharmacy technician’s job is to assist pharmacists in filling prescriptions and providing customer service. They may also be responsible for data entry, inventory control, and other administrative tasks.

Some states require pharmacy technicians to be certified, but in many cases, on-the-job training is sufficient. Most employers prefer to hire candidates with at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some postsecondary education is preferred, especially for those interested in advancing their career.

Working conditions of a pharmacy tech

Most pharmacy technicians work in clean, well-lit, and well-ventilated areas. Many of them work in retail pharmacies, grocery store pharmacies, or hospitals. Pharmacy technicians typically work on a full-time or part-time basis. Some may work evenings, weekends, or holidays to cover shifts left vacant by pharmacists.

Education and Training

Most pharmacy tech programs will require you to have a high school diploma or equivalent, although some may require you to have completed some college coursework as well.1 You will also need to complete a formal pharmacy technician training program that has been accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

High school diploma or GED

You can become a pharmacy technician with a high school diploma or GED and on-the-job training, which usually takes about a year. Many communities have pharmacy technician training programs that last from several weeks to several months and lead to certification. Some states require certification, and employers prefer to hire certified technicians. Many technicians learn their skills on the job. Some hospital pharmacies train technicians while they are working. Others prefer that candidates have formal training or experience in customer service.

Post-secondary education

A post-secondary education is not required to become a pharmacy technician, but it is highly recommended. Many pharmacy technicians choose to complete a diploma or certificate program at a community college, vocational school or online school. These programs usually take one year or less to complete and include both classroom and laboratory instruction.

In addition to formal classroom instruction, many programs also include an externship component. Externships provide students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience working in a pharmacy. Some states require externship hours for licensure or certification, so be sure to check your state’s requirements before enrolling in a program.

Once you have completed your education and training, you will be ready to take the next step towards becoming a pharmacy technician.


Most pharmacy techs are certified — the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) offers certification in nearly every state. To be eligible for certification, candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent and pass an exam. Recertification is required every two years.

Some employers may require certification as a condition of employment. In addition, most states regulate pharmacy technicians, and those who wish to work in a state-regulated pharmacy must usually be certified by that state’s board of pharmacy. Check with your state board of pharmacy for specific requirements.


Becoming a pharmacy technician requires good organizational skills. You will need to be able to keep track of inventory, order supplies, and manage customer records. You will also need to be able to communicate effectively with pharmacists, customers, and other members of the healthcare team. Let’s take a closer look at some of the skills you will need to be a successful pharmacy technician.


In any healthcare setting, communication is key. As a pharmacy technician, you will need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with patients, doctors, pharmacists, and insurance companies. You will need to be able to understand and interpret prescriptions, and be able to answer any questions patients or doctors may have. Excellent communication skills are essential in this role.


To be successful in any customer service job, interpersonal skills are key. As a pharmacy technician, you’ll be interacting with patients on a regular basis, often during times of stress. Being able to effectively communicate with people from all walks of life, under a variety of circumstances, is essential. You should also be comfortable working as part of a team, as pharmacy technicians often collaborate with pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.


Organizational skills are important for pharmacy technicians because they need to be able to keep track of medication and inventory. They also need to be able to communicate effectively with customers and other healthcare professionals.

Some of the specific organizational skills that pharmacy technicians need to have include:
-The ability to stay calm under pressure
-The ability to multitask
-Attention to detail
-The ability to follow instructions carefully
-The ability to work independently
-The ability to work well with others


The most important skill for a pharmacy technician is the ability to safely and effectively handle medications. This includes everything from receiving and stocking supplies to preparing and dispatching prescriptions. A pharmacy technician must be able to follow both verbal and written instructions, be detail-oriented, and stay calm under pressure. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be interacting with patients on a regular basis.

Other important skills for pharmacy technicians include:
-Properly measuring medications
-Accurately counting pills
-Packing and labeling prescription containers
-Maintaining patient confidentiality
-Working well as part of a team


The median annual wage for pharmacy technicians was $32,700 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,550, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $47,880. In May 2019, the median annual wages for pharmacy technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:


The median annual salary for pharmacy technicians was $32,700 in 2016, with the top 10 percent earning more than $45,950, and the bottom 10 percent earning less than $24,090.

In 2016, the states with the highest employment levels for pharmacy technicians were California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. These states also had some of the highest wages for pharmacy technicians. The lowest paying states for this occupation were South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, Alabama, and Arkansas.

By state

In order to become a pharmacy technician, you will need to complete a formal education program and obtain a certificate or diploma. In some states, you may also be required to register with the state board of pharmacy and pass a national certification exam. The average salary for pharmacy technicians varies by state, with the highest wages in Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Job outlook

The job outlook for pharmacy techs is positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of pharmacy technicians will grow by 12 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.1 The aging population and longer life expectancies will lead to a greater need for prescription medications, and pharmacy techs will be needed to help fill these orders.

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