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.
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|
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 / Diploma||6 - 20 Months|
|Associate Degree||2 - 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.
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 ||217,287||52%|
|Hospitals; State, Local, and Private ||66,858||16%|
|General Merchandise Stores ||41,786||10%|
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|
| Hourly||$11.90 |
| Monthly||$2,060 |
| Annual||$24,750 |
| (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|
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
This association offers certification exams that also includes an area of specialization for sterile compounding.
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.
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.
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 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.