Best Pharmacy Technician Schools + Career Information – 2024


Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org

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 5 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

Curriculum


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 Stores239,47053%
Hospitals; State, Local, and Private68,61015%
Food and Beverage Stores41,9409%
General Merchandise Stores41,3809%
(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 $14.25, and this equals out to about $2,470 a month. For an annual salary, this is about $29,640 a year. Earning a specialization certificate during your training can help to increase your starting pay.

Type Salary
Hourly$14.25
Monthly$2,470
Annual$29,640
(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 $34,590 with 1-4 years of experience to $50,640 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$16.63 $2,880$34,590
5-9 years$18.17 $3,150$37,790
10-19 years$21.98 $3,810$45,710
20 years or more$24.35 $4,220$50,640
(Source: BLS)


How Many Job Openings are there for Pharmacy Technician Graduates?


New Replacement Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
41,260224043,500
(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, 2021-31
2021 2031 Number Percent
447,300469,700+22,400+5.01%
(Source: careeronestop)


State Wise Employment, Job Openings & Salary Breakdown


State Employment Annual
Job Openings
(New + Replacement)
Annual
Average Salary
Alabama 7,980 580 $34,720
Alaska 790 40 $48,210
Arizona 11,540 940 $42,360
Arkansas 4,520 390 $34,820
California 38,780 3,360 $52,090
Colorado 5,870 570 $43,630
Connecticut 4,500 340 $39,810
Delaware 1,190 110 $38,620
District of Columbia 720 60 $45,240
Florida 38,970 2,720 $38,270
Georgia 14,380 1,160 $37,000
Hawaii 1,350 150 $42,210
Idaho 2,520 180 $40,510
Illinois 21,370 1,750 $40,910
Indiana 10,330 730 $38,050
Iowa 4,750 360 $38,370
Kansas 4,210 380 $38,040
Kentucky 9,910 780 $35,340
Louisiana 6,490 490 $37,300
Maine 2,190 160 $37,690
Maryland 7,240 700 $40,550
Massachusetts 8,730 800 $43,830
Michigan 14,890 1,170 $37,890
Minnesota 7,880 600 $43,420
Mississippi 3,990 330 $34,910
Missouri 10,040 770 $36,280
Montana 1,320 110 $40,380
Nebraska 2,570 230 $37,610
Nevada 4,430 430 $41,760
New Hampshire 2,160 160 $39,070
New Jersey 11,890 890 $39,250
New Mexico 2,620 210 $39,950
New York 23,550 2,100 $40,860
North Carolina 16,370 1,110 $37,590
North Dakota 830 70 $43,150
Ohio 16,920 1,260 $37,290
Oklahoma 5,070 460 $35,420
Oregon 4,470 460 $46,770
Pennsylvania 20,580 1,570 $36,890
Rhode Island 1,540 160 $41,070
South Carolina 7,560 620 $36,870
South Dakota 1,170 110 $37,840
Tennessee 12,820 880 $36,790
Texas 36,870 3,660 $40,620
Utah 4,550 430 $42,290
Vermont 920 60 $38,900
Virginia 10,440 960 $38,690
Washington 7,600 890 $49,530
West Virginia 3,490 270 $35,210
Wisconsin 8,190 680 $38,970
Wyoming 590 60 $41,730
(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.



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