How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Interested in a career as a pharmacy technician? This guide explains how to become one and how to choose a pharmacy technology program.

Do you like working in a team? Are you interested in health care? Do you still want to interact with customers and people every day? If you said yes, an exciting career as a pharmacy technician may be right for you. This useful guide explains why to become a pharmacy technician, how to do so, and how to choose the right pharmacy technician training for you.

Why Become a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy technicians hold a unique place in health care in that they can work in a variety of settings. They get to interact with customers as well as doctors, pharmacists, and other medical professionals.

According to the BLS, pharmacy technicians will also play an important role as the role of the pharmacist changes. Pharmacists are more frequently working with patients and reviewing prescriptions before they are given to patients. As such, technicians can perform tasks—such as collecting patient information, handling prescription transfers, and verifying the work of other technicians—that were previously done by pharmacists.1

Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work?

While many have likely interacted with a pharmacy technician at a retail pharmacy like CVS or Walgreens the last time they were sick, there are other places pharmacy techs can work.12 Some of those options can include:

  • Pharmacies, including specialty pharmacies12
  • Pharmaceutical companies12
  • Hospitals and other medical facilities5

Compounding pharmacies differ from retail drugstores in that they create medications tailored to individual patients.2 A doctor may refer a patient to a compounding pharmacy for specific medication that is tailored to a patient’s needs. Or, if a patient is allergic to certain ingredients like gluten, their doctor may refer them to a compounding pharmacy.

Meanwhile, pharmacy technicians work in drug-dispensing departments of larger organizations, such as hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living communities, and memory care facilities. At these sorts of facilities, pharmacy technicians may help with medication administered in IV bags or syringes.13

Overall, pharmacy technicians in all settings typically work full-time and indoors. Because pharmacy hours are typically longer, pharmacy technicians may need to work nights or weekends.3

Major Pharmacy Technician Employers

If you’re looking for pharmacy technician jobs, there are a number of major retailers nationally. The 15 largest pharmacies in order of estimated prescription revenues in 2022 were:4

  1. CVS Health Corporation
  2. Walgreens Boots Alliance
  3. Cigna (Evernorth/Express Scripts)
  4. UnitedHealth Group (OptumRx)
  5. Walmart Stores, Inc.
  6. The Kroger Company
  7. Rite Aid Corporation
  8. Humana (CenterWell)
  9. Albertsons Companies
  10. Publix
  11. Costco Wholesale Corporation
  12. BrightSpring Health Services
  13. Centene (Evolve Health)
  14. Ahold Delhaize
  15. CarepathRx

These chains primarily consist of retail pharmacies and food and beverage stores that may have pharmacies inside them.

pharmacy technician with bottleWhat Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?

Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists and interact with patients, helping people get the medications they need. Some common job duties of a pharmacy tech may include:5

  • Collect information needed to fill a prescription from customers or health professionals
  • Measure amounts of medication for prescriptions
  • Package and label prescriptions
  • Organize inventory and alert pharmacists to any shortages of medications or supplies
  • Accept payment for prescriptions and process insurance claims
  • Enter customer or patient information, including any prescriptions taken, into a computer system
  • Answer phone calls from customers
  • Arrange for customers to speak with pharmacists if customers have questions about medications or health matters

Overall, pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a pharmacist who reviews medication before it is delivered to a patient. Exact duties of pharmacy technicians are regulated by individual state laws and store policies. Most states allow technicians to compound or mix some medications and call physicians for prescription refill authorizations.5

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

There are different paths to becoming a pharmacy technician depending on the state in which you live and wish to work. Many states regulate pharmacy technicians in some way. Consult state Boards of Pharmacy for particular regulations. “Even where it is not required, certification may make it easier to get a job”.6

Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)

Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) CPhT Certification is an important step toward a rewarding career. As a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT),  technicians demonstrate their knowledge and commitment in medication safety and effective patient care across pharmacy settings.11 Some states and employers require pharmacy technicians to be certified.6

Eligibility Requirements

Are you eligible to earn your PTCB CPhT certification?

✔  Reside in the United States of America or its territories (US)

✔  Completion of a PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program or equivalent work experience

✔  Full disclosure of all criminal and State Board of Pharmacy registration or licensure actions

✔  Compliance with all applicable PTCB Certification policies

✔  Passing score on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam® (PTCE®)

Candidates must complete a PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program OR equivalent work experience in order to be eligible. To be eligible for the PTCE, a candidate must complete one of the following two pathways:

Pathway 1: A PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program (or completion within 60 days). Candidates choose from more than 1,400 recognized programs.

Pathway 2: Equivalent work experience as a pharmacy technician (min. 500 hours).* This alternative secondary path serves experienced technicians who were not in a position to attend a PTCB-recognized program. PTCB accepts work experience across pharmacy practice settings that pertains to certain knowledge requirements.

*500 hours must be complete at the time of application.

Prepare for Your Career as a Pharmacy Technician
Carrington College focuses on small class sizes and hands-on training. Here you’re more than a face in a room. Take the first step on your way to a new career in pharmacy technology.

What to Look for in a Pharmacy Technology Program

Choosing the right Pharmacy Technology program for you is a big decision. The right training may open doors for better jobs and possibly a higher salary down the line. While many institutions may offer pharmacy technology classes, it’s important that you look for the one that fits your goals and lifestyle.

A few core things to look for when considering Pharmacy Technology programs include:

  • Small class sizes. When learning to be a pharmacy technician you want individual attention from your instructor.
  • Hands-on training. When dealing with tasks like measuring dosages and administering medication, it’s important that you have time to practice those skills hands-on.
  • Externships or career training. Most programs include an opportunity to learn in the real world before you even graduate! You’ll earn an impressive experience that looks great on your resume.
  • Career support. Programs and schools should be dedicated to your success. Many institutions, like Carrington College, offer career services to help you with your job search after graduation.
  • Cost. Education is a major investment, but it’s an investment in your future. At Carrington College, like many other institutions, we participate in most financial assistance programs, both federal and state, as well as private financing. Student loans, grants, and scholarships are available to those who qualify. For complete information on current tuition costs, please see the academic catalog. Student loans, grants, and scholarships are available to those who qualify.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy Technology programs can take as little as nine months. When looking for the right school for you, you should look at when you would be able to complete your certificate program. Everyone’s timeline for pursuing a new career is different. Find a school that works best for you.

Prepare for a Career in Pharmacy Technology With Carrington College

Carrington College offers a Pharmacy Technology program for students interested in taking their careers in this exciting direction. Carrington’s program focuses on small classes so you can get individualized attention from knowledgeable faculty and staff. Carrington is committed to student success, helping students with externships and job search assistance.

Carrington College’s Pharmacy Technology Students and Faculty

Carrington hires experienced staff who have working knowledge of their field.

Carrington students range from high-school graduates expanding their educational horizons to more mature students who are making career shifts. They all work together to prepare for new careers.

Our faculty take pride in seeing students succeed, often taking a personal interest in helping students transition into an externship. At Carrington, you aren’t just a nameless face in a classroom; you can build real relationships with educators.

Find Pharmacy Technology Programs Near You

Carrington College’s Pharmacy Technology program is available at 12 locations:

Pharmacy Technician FAQ

What is a Pharmacy Technician?

A pharmacy technician works under the direction of a licensed pharmacist, providing support services to the pharmacist. Some of these services may include measuring, mixing and counting individual medications and labeling and recording dosages and amounts of medications in accordance with prescriptions.

Many pharmacy technicians also interact directly with the public or others, such as medical staff, on a daily basis.

Can you become a pharmacy technician without a degree?

You do not have to have a degree to become a pharmacy technician. At minimum, you will need to have earned a high school diploma or equivalency and learn skills on the job.However, you can also enter this occupation by completing post-secondary education programs in pharmacy technology, which may possibly open up more employment opportunities for you.8

What qualifications do you need to work in a pharmacy?

Some states and employers require pharmacy technicians to be certified. Individual states vary with regard to the certification, licensure type and scope of practice allowed for pharmacy technicians.

To attain licensure, some states require that you pass specific certification exams along with other requirements.9

What does PTCB stand for?

PTCB is the acronym for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. PTCB is a nonprofit pharmacy technician credentialing organization in the United States.

How much does a pharmacy technician make?

Like other occupations, the wage that a pharmacy technician can earn may vary widely based on several factors.

Some of these factors may include the geographical location and setting in which they work, the number of scheduled work hours, and the training, education and skill level they have achieved in pharmacy technology.



Last Updated:

November 1, 2023


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