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How to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

how to become a pharmacy technician

Do you have strong critical thinking skills and a desire to help people?

If so, and you are searching for a job in healthcare, becoming a pharmacy technician could be perfect for you. This role usually takes place in a pharmacy and involves interacting with customers and providing medication.

This is a good entry-level job for people who have an interest in medicines and excellent attention to detail. However, it can take time and dedication to gain the necessary skills and qualifications for the job.

So let’s take an in-depth look at how to become a pharmacy technician and what this job involves.

how to become a pharmacy technician

What Is A Pharmacy Technician?

This role mainly involves working in a pharmacy and providing customers with the correct medication. You would work under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist, who provides additional training when necessary. This is basically a customer service role that provides a connection between customers and pharmacists.

When a customer brings you a prescription, you will usually give it to the pharmacist to fill. You will then explain the correct dosage, side effects, and other important information to the customer. You also need to provide recommendations on the best over-the-counter medications to take for different conditions.

The Different Paths To Take

Completing the necessary training for this role can take up to three years. The exact amount of time will depend on the path you choose to take. Here is an overview of the three main paths you can take on your journey to becoming trained and qualified.

Read more: Top Pharmacy Technician Resume Objective Examples

Diploma program

It is possible to complete this type of program in a year or less. The course typically focuses on the key skills you need to do the job well. It also prepares students for their national pharmacy technician exam and is a good starting point for advanced training.

Certification program

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists offer special certification programs. These programs help give you the knowledge and experience to launch your career. In addition to classroom instruction, these programs offer special internship opportunities and exam preparation.

Associate degree

After completing a certificate program, you can earn an associate degree to further develop your skills. This course takes a total of two years to complete and includes advanced pharmacy, scientific, and technical concepts. Some of the most popular associate’s degrees include Associate of Occupational Science, Associate of Science, and Associate of Applied Science.

Important Skills And Attributes

This job involves a range of both hard and soft skills. While the necessary hard skills are taught during special courses, the soft skills relate to personal attributes. Let’s take a look at the main skills and attributes a successful pharmacy technician should possess.

Mathematics skills

Most training programs include a math course. These skills are useful when it comes to measuring medications and filling prescriptions. Math skills are also used when ordering new stock, conducting inventory, and maintaining records.

Communication skills

You need to be able to explain information about medications to customers as clearly as possible. It is essential to listen carefully to customers to understand their needs and level of understanding. This will help you recommend the right over-the-counter medications and make sure they take their prescribed medications correctly.

how to become the pharmacy technician

Attention to detail

It is essential to make sure that each prescription is filled correctly, as there is no room for error. You need to make sure that all medications are labeled and packaged correctly. Even minor spelling mistakes in labeling could result in customers receiving the wrong medication or dosage.

Computer skills

You are likely to use a special computer system when working in the pharmacy. These systems help count pills and make sure prescriptions are filled correctly. You also need to be computer literate to file insurance claims and input customer data in the system.

Problem-solving skills

You need to be able to resolve any issues that arise quickly and competently. This includes resolving incorrect billing or finding solutions when medications are not available. When customers have issues, you need to listen to them carefully and find the best solution.


Depending on your available time and resources, your path to becoming qualified may vary slightly. However, the essential elements of the method will remain the same. Here is an overview of the steps you need to take to become certified to start work.

Choose an educational or training program

Completing a certification program or earning a diploma allows you to launch your career fairly quickly. Completing an associate degree afterward will help you to advance your career and command a higher salary. The coursework of these programs should cover healthcare systems, medical terminology, ethics and laws, human anatomy and physiology, and pharmacology.

Complete an internship

Your training program should include different types of internship opportunities for you to choose from. Completing an internship provides you with on-the-job training and the chance to hone your skills. It also helps prepare you for the national certification exam and can lead to full-time work after you are certified.

Gain National Certification

Once you have completed your education and training, you will be ready to sit the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam.

This test generally takes four hours and proves you have the necessary knowledge to start work. Once you have passed the exam, you will be fully qualified and ready to start applying for jobs. It is important to remember that your certification has to be renewed every two years.

Types Of Diploma And Certificate Programs

There are several different diploma and certificate programs to choose from. Depending on the state you live in, you may find that several colleges in your area offer competing programs. Here is an overview of the most popular programs and details of what they cover.

Introduction to Pharmacy

Students gain an introduction to pharmacy practices and terminology in this course. This includes the full range of medical and pharmacy terms they need to be familiar with. The course also covers the full range of basic pharmacy operations.

Dosage Forms and Routes of Administration

This course covers the ways in which different types of medications interact with the body. It includes instruction on the application of basic mathematical principles when dosing and medication administration.

Science of Pharmacology

The drug approval and administration processes are mainly covered during this course. Students learn about the process drugs go through to become approved for general use.

how to become pharmacy technician guide

Hospital Pharmacy Practice

This course is essential for anyone who wants to carry out basic pharmacy operations in a hospital setting. It covers the full range of hospital pharmacy operations and the basic guidelines that have to be followed. Students also gain detailed information on the specific role of pharmacy technicians in hospital settings.

Pharmacy Ethics

The ethics and laws that govern pharmacy practice are covered in this course. This includes the pharmacy technician codes of conduct and modern pharmacy laws in the United States. Students are also guided through the key ethical considerations in different situations with customers.

Types Of Associate Degrees

Associate degree programs provide a more comprehensive and in-depth educational experience. These programs take two years to complete, and there are several different options to choose from.

Although most programs cover the same basics, they can also differ in important ways. It is important to keep your needs and interests firmly in mind when checking out the different associate degree options.

Interpersonal Communications for the Workplace

Strong interpersonal communication skills are essential when interacting with customers in any type of medical environment. The course teaches students how to interpret non-verbal communication and customer service skills. By the end of the course, students should be able to communicate well with people from all walks of life.

Pharmacy Calculations

This course covers a wide range of mathematical equations and the best ways to use them when working in the pharmacy. Students can experience working with applied mathematics and an overview of the fundamental mathematical concepts. The course also contains instruction and practice of the best ways to use mathematical formulas to solve problems.

Pharmacology I

Students learn about the main principles of drug interactions and the human body and the effect of drugs on the nervous system. There is detailed information about nervous system disorders and the medications used to treat them. The course also includes an overview of the human anatomy as well as the physiology of the nervous system.

Over-the-Counter Drugs

Students gain the opportunity to brush up on their customer service skills and knowledge of pharmaceutical ethics. This cause also provides advanced knowledge about nonprescription medications and drugs. This helps students to recommend the best over-the-counter medications for a wide range of conditions.

Pharmacy Law

As the name suggests, this cause teaches students about the federal and state laws that govern the practice of pharmacies. Students gain a detailed understanding of the relevant deferral and state laws that restrict their work.

Finding The Right Online Pharmacy Technician Program

Not everyone has the luxury of dedicating two years of their lives to formal education. If you have family or work commitments, you may need a course that allows you to study part-time. Fortunately, there are several online programs that provide the necessary skills and knowledge. Here is an overview of what you should consider when choosing an online program.


Make sure the program you choose is accredited by the Commission on Credentialing or the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. This will ensure that the program covers all the elements you need for your certification. Both accrediting bodies have high quality control standards that accredited programs have to maintain.

Hands-on Training Opportunities

Most types of certification and degree programs require some form of hands-on training. When checking out the different online program options, you need to take this requirement into account. The program may provide an externship placement to make it easy for you to complete the requirement. However, some programs may leave it up to you to find the best way to complete your training.

how to become the pharmacy technician guide

Certification Preparation

Most employers require their pharmacy technicians to be certified before they begin working unsupervised. The online program you choose should provide training to prepare you for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board exam. This often includes preparation exams and details of the topics that will be covered in the exam.

Professional Organizations

Joining an organization is a great way to gain information on how to advance in your career. The leading organizations offer advice, important resources, and networking events where you can make connections. Here are some of the largest professional organizations that are open to pharmacy technicians of all levels.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

This organization boasts more than 40,000 members, including pharmacy technicians, pharmacists, and student pharmacists. All members are provided with the latest information on medication use in order to enhance patient safety. Members are given access to a wide range of online resources as well as events and seminars.

National Association of Boards of Pharmacy

This international association is a great place to connect with professionals living all over the world. Members receive advice and resources on how to advance on every step of their career path.

National Pharmacy Technician Association

This special organization was established especially for pharmacy technicians and is a valuable resource for both students and certified professionals. Members work in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and retail. All members receive access to special resources as well as professional support.

Studying To Be A Pharmacy Technician?

Let’s first check out my Pharmacy Technician Job Description to see what the position entails, along with my Pharmacist Job Description and Pharmacist Interview Questions, and Pharmacy Manager Job Description, and why not my Top Highest Paying Medical Jobs for a few well-paid alternatives.

In preparation for your exams, we recommend using online study guides such as the PTCB Exam Study Guide 2023-2023: Comprehensive Review Questions, Practice Quizzes, and Answer, along with the PTCB Exam Study Guide 2021-2022 – Test Prep with Practice Questions for the Pharmacy Technician and the Mosby’s Pharmacy Technician Exam Review to get you on your way.

In addition, we also found these great manuals and handbooks, take a look at The Pharmacy Technician, the Manual for Pharmacy Technicians, the Workbook and Lab Manual for Mosby’s Pharmacy Technician: Principles and Practice, and the Pharmacy Calculations for Pharmacy Technicians: Master Calculations The Safe & Easy Way Without Formulas all available online in 2023.

Final Thoughts

Working as a pharmacy technician is a great starting point for anyone who wants to become a pharmacist.

This role allows you to gain work experience while making a competitive salary. You will gain on-the-job training and the chance to make valuable connections.

The entry-level salary for a pharmacy technician is around $25,000 per year. If you have special skills and experience, your salary could easily climb to $35,000 per year. Depending on the state they live in, the top earners in this role can earn at least $50,000 per year.

All the very best in your new career as a Pharmacy Technician!

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