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Becoming a Pharmacy Technician: What to Know

July 12, 2021

Pharmacy technicians help a pharmacy run smoothly. They support the pharmacist, customers and medical professionals by dispensing medication. If this career path piques your interest, there are many different paths you can take to become a pharmacy technician. It all depends on whether you need to take pharmacy technician classes to get licensed or registered and certified in your state. Follow these steps to determine the path that’s right for you.

What are the regulations in your state?

Each state has different regulations about who can work as a pharmacy technician. The  Pharmacy Technician Certification Board provides an at-a-glance look at state requirements. You can easily see if your state requires certification, licensing or registration, or both. This is an excellent first step to help you plan your timeline.

Next, you will want to take a closer look at your state’s requirements. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy can give you more specific information about your state’s requirements. This resource can help you make sure you have all the current information you need to become a pharmacy technician in your state.

No Regulations

There are currently only five states that have no requirements besides a high school diploma or GED. These states do not require technicians to register with the State Board of Pharmacy. If you choose this route, most of your learning will come from on-the-job training. After at least 500 hours of work experience as a pharmacy technician, you will be eligible for certification through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

National Certification

Two dozen states require pharmacy technician certification. Some of them require it in order for pharmacy technicians to become licensed or registered. Others just require it to get a job as a pharmacy technician and perform specific duties.

Before you take the exam, you have to finish a PTCB-recognized training program or have 500 hours of work experience as a pharmacy technician. However, you can apply to take the test if you are within sixty days of finishing your program. Your certification will be granted once you provide proof of completion. This could be a copy of your certificate with your name, completion date, and the title of the program you finished. It could also be an official letter from the training program with the same information.

The pharmacy technician certification exam takes about two hours to complete. It currently costs $129 to take the PTCB certification exam, but make sure you check their website for changes. Once you pay the required amount, PTCB will email you to let you know if you are authorized to schedule your exam. Some employers may even pay for employees to take the certification exam.

Licensing or Registration

Almost half of all states require licensing or registration in addition to national certification. Pharmacy technician classes can prepare you for both.

The registration process may look a bit different in each state, but you can probably expect an application, an application fee, and proof that you’ve completed the training that your state mandates. Check the State Board of Pharmacy for specific requirements.

If you decide to take pharmacy technician classes, or if your state requires them, the time requirements can vary. Programs can range from a few months to two years. Programs may offer a certificate, diploma, or degree.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists requires accredited programs to include a minimum of 600 hours of instruction over at least 15 weeks. Longer programs may offer you an associate degree and extensive hands-on training in the field.

The length of the program is just one factor to consider. You will want to make sure the program you choose can meet your other needs.

  • Does it meet your state’s requirements?
  • Can it help you achieve your personal career goals?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Will the school help you find a job after graduation?

Other Considerations

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacists are taking on more patient care roles, like giving flu shots. This means pharmacy technicians are also being asked to play a greater role in pharmacy operations.

Even if your state does not require licensing, registration, or certification right now, requirements are getting stronger all the time and could change in your state. Employers may also prefer to hire pharmacy technicians who have completed a program and obtained certification.

Look for a school that offers flexible, accelerated programs to meet state requirements and give you an edge in the pharmacy technician field. You will leave with an associate degree and preparation for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).

You can complete an accredited training program and become a licensed pharmacy technician in less than two years. Find out what your state requires and choose the right path for you.