Best Pharmacy Technician Schools + Career Information – 2020

Starting a career as a pharmacy technician opens up a path that allows you to help people increase their wellness while earning more than minimum wage from the very beginning. Once you begin working, you also benefit from the job security that accompanies being able to know that the demand for pharmacy technicians will grow by about 12 percent over the next ten years. The training to become a pharmacy technician can also be a way to start in the healthcare industry before pursuing a career as a pharmacist, but you have to take the first step and apply to a school. For this reason, we offer you our list of the 5 best pharmacy technician programs that you can choose from to get started.

What Education is Required to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

The educational requirements to become a pharmacy technician range from a high school diploma to an associate degree. It is always best to work toward the highest level of education that you can to increase your job options after you graduate.

Program Cost

A certificate or diploma program usually costs about $2,510 at the lowest end of the spectrum, but it could cost as much as $29,390. For an associate degree, you can expect to pay $5,030 or up to $53,740.

Type Cost
Certificate / Diploma$2,510 - $29,390
Associate Degree$5,030 - $53,740

Program Length

When you apply for your educational program, you may be concerned about the length of time it takes before you can begin working. A certificate program takes between six to 20 months to finish depending upon the rigorousness of the curriculum. If you go full-time, an associate degree should take about two years to finish.

Type Length
Certificate / Diploma6 - 20 Months
Associate Degree2 - years

Can I Pursue This Program Online?

Pharmacy technician schools typically accept online coursework for only general education classes. For instance, you might be able to get credit for an introductory math or science class from your school. Keep in mind, however, that different educational programs establish their own standards regarding online classes. In most situations, you can expect to attend traditional classes for any courses that require hands-on experiences such as ones that teach you how to dispense medicine or consult with a customer. Clinical experiences working within an actual pharmacy may also be part of the requirements for earning your degree or certificate.

Admission Requirements

Meeting the admission requirements for a school helps you to demonstrate your commitment to complete your pharmacy technician training. You can expect to need to meet at least these minimum requirements.

• high school diploma or the equivalent
• pass any entrance exams


Accredited pharmacy technician programs pack a lot of information into a few months to two years. The typical curriculum begins with an introduction to basic pharmacy practices and terminology. You will also learn measurement systems that are used for the dispensing of medication. As you advance in your education, you will also learn about the laws that govern pharmacology practices along with how to provide ethical customer care. You should also plan to take several courses on human anatomy and physiology that help you learn about how different types of medication work to treat common illnesses. Most programs also teach you about over the counter medications along with how you can counsel customers regarding any potential side effects or interactions that can occur with certain types of treatments.

Why Attending a Program Accredited by ASHP Makes a Difference?

The ASHP has established a process by which educational programs can gain accreditation by meeting specific standards such as providing at least 600 hours of instruction in certain areas over a period of time. Attending a program with this distinction allows you to prepare for your certification exam and know that you are ready to enter the workforce after graduation.

Certification and Licensure Requirements to Work as a Pharmacy Technician

You may need to meet specific requirements that are issued by your state before you can begin working as a pharmacy technician. These typically include things such as passing a criminal background check and demonstrating that you have completed a formal education program. Additionally, you may need to become certified to work in your state. If you live in a state that does not require pharmacy technicians to be certified, it is still worth pursuing the process to open up the most job options.

There are two main routes to get certified as a pharmacy technician. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board requires you to submit proof that you meet the educational requirements before you are eligible to take the exam. You will also need to show that you are compliant with all of their certification policies, such as having a background that is free of criminal conduct that would be a concern in the pharmacology field.

You can also seek certification through the National Healthcare Association. You will need to have completed a training program to become a pharmacy technician program before you can apply for the exam, and they provide access to study materials that help you earn your certification. Once you are certified, you will need to apply for recertification after a two-year period. To apply for recertification as a pharmacy technician, you will need to complete approximately 20 hours of continuing education courses that may come from a variety of different sources.

Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work?

Pharmacies and Drug Stores: Pharmacy technicians are often the point-of-service at pharmacies, where they dispense medication and provide customer care.

Hospitals; State, Local, and Private: Some hospitals have their own pharmacies where physicians and patients can pick up their medications as needed.

General Merchandise Stores: Pharmacy technicians may work in general merchandise stores that have a small pharmacy offering medication dispensing services.

Food and Beverage Stores: Some food and beverage stores hire pharmacy technicians to provide services to their customers.

Industry Employment
Number Percent
Pharmacies and Drug Stores 217,28752%
Hospitals; State, Local, and Private 66,85816%
General Merchandise Stores 41,78610%
(Source: BLS)

Work Environment & Conditions

The majority of pharmacy technicians work directly with the public. Although it is rewarding to help others, you may also be exposed to potential pathogens as you provide customer care. You can also expect to spend the majority of your work day on your feet as you dispense medications and complete customer transactions. Many pharmacies stay open overnight and on the weekends to meet the needs of patients. This means that you may be required to work late night shifts and on holidays. Since medication mix-ups are dangerous, you will also need to be able to pay careful attention to the names of medications and dosages as you perform your pharmacy technician duties to ensure that there is not a mistake in the prescription or dispensing methods used.

What Starting Salary Can I Expect as a Pharmacy Technician?

The starting pharmacy technician salary begins at around $11.90, and this equals out to about $2,060 a month. For an annual salary, this is about $24,750 a year. Earning a specialization certificate during your training can help to increase your starting pay.

Type Salary
(Source: In-House Research)

How Much Will My Salary Grow with Experience?

With enough experience, you can watch your salary nearly double from an annual pay of $26,750 with 1-4 years of experience to $48,010 after twenty years. Along the way, you should see a yearly salary increase with the biggest jumps happening every five to ten years.

Level of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
1-4 years$12.86 $2,230 $26,750
5-9 years$15.72 $2,730 $32,700
10-19 years$18.89 $3,270 $39,290
20 years or more$23.08 $4,000 $48,010
(Source: BLS)

How Many Job Openings are there for Pharmacy Technician Graduates?

New Replacement Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
(Source: careeronestop)

10 Year Employment Outlook

Pharmacy technicians are in high demand over the next ten years. This is due to the current expansion of healthcare in general. Right now, there is a rapid increase in the aging population. Since senior citizens tend to require more medications to treat their diseases, it is estimated that there will be a higher need for pharmacy technicians to help provide customer care to these older adults. Pharmacies are also beginning to open in places that offer customers more convenience, such as grocery stores and wholesale clubs. More freestanding clinics may also hire pharmacy technicians to provide on-site medication dispensing services.

Employment Employment Growth, 2016-26
2016 2026 Number Percent
(Source: careeronestop)

State Wise Employment, Job Openings & Salary Breakdown

State Employment Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement) Annual Average Salary
Alabama 7,140 660 $30,040
Alaska 570 40 $43,150
Arizona 9,310 930 $35,090
Arkansas 4,490 400 $29,640
California 37,630 3,410 $42,610
Colorado 5,610 520 $36,880
Connecticut 4,120 350 $34,530
Delaware 1,460 100 $34,470
District of Columbia 840 90 $39,980
Florida 30,080 2,990 $32,090
Georgia 12,450 1,160 $30,240
Hawaii 1,780 170 $38,720
Idaho 1,960 200 $35,920
Illinois 21,490 1,600 $33,140
Indiana 9,360 870 $31,160
Iowa 4,130 390 $32,560
Kansas 3,780 370 $32,940
Kentucky 8,470 850 $29,270
Louisiana 6,130 590 $32,700
Maine 2,180 170 $31,690
Maryland 7,660 630 $33,880
Massachusetts 8,910 680 $37,110
Michigan 15,580 1,150 $32,660
Minnesota 8,370 710 $37,670
Mississippi 3,430 330 $31,440
Missouri 9,850 1,000 $32,090
Montana 1,140 120 $34,780
Nebraska 2,600 240 $33,270
Nevada 3,960 330 $37,620
New Hampshire 1,730 140 $32,370
New Jersey 9,570 910 $33,070
New Mexico 2,360 230 $33,710
New York 19,320 1,790 $34,640
North Carolina 13,680 1,410 $30,890
North Dakota 830 80 $39,770
Ohio 16,190 1,520 $30,500
Oklahoma 4,800 480 $30,790
Oregon 5,020 460 $40,920
Pennsylvania 18,220 1,440 $30,000
Rhode Island 1,800 140 $37,410
South Carolina 7,500 630 $31,530
South Dakota 1,350 110 $32,720
Tennessee 10,860 1,170 $32,980
Texas 37,200 3,500 $34,290
Utah 4,020 480 $37,190
Vermont 660 50 $34,070
Virginia 9,690 870 $32,370
Washington 6,950 680 $42,470
West Virginia 2,980 270 $28,650
Wisconsin 8,050 640 $32,750
Wyoming 590 50 $37,460
(Source: BLS & careeronestop)

Important Organizations & Associations

Pharmacy Technician Associations - PTCB

This association offers certification exams that also includes an area of specialization for sterile compounding.

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

As a member of the ASHP, you can participate in professional development opportunities such as national meetings and stay on top of the latest research in your career field.

National Pharmacy Technician Association

The NPTA publishes a magazine and newsletter that is packed with resources for pharmacy technicians, and they provide additional training and career development opportunities to members.

American Association of Pharmacy Technicians

This organization promotes pharmacy technicians as an integral part of the healthcare field. They aim to elevate those who work as pharmacy technicians by offering a scholarship and training opportunities to those who are going to school or already working in the field.

Pharmacy Technician Educators Council

Pharmacy technician educators can network with other people who share their position while also receiving industry-related news that helps them provide higher educational opportunities to the students that they teach.