Employment Trends Healthcare

How Do You Become a Pharmacy Technician?

pharmacy technician
Written by Miranda Pennington

a pharmacy technician is responsible for assisting the pharmacist on duty to help patients or customers and fill prescriptions. you’ll need a keen eye for detail, a great deal of patience, and training that covers basic pharmacology, medication dispensing, and an understanding of pharmacy law and ethics.

education and training

you will need a high school diploma or a ged equivalent to qualify for on-the-job training—many aspiring pharm techs find getting such training is easier after post-secondary training at an online certification program or vocational school, community college, or technical institute. it may take anywhere from 3 months to a year.

vocational school and community college coursework will emphasize commonly used mathematics, chemistry, and medication orientations to familiarize aspiring pharm techs with names, side effects, interactions, and dispensing protocols. some training programs even offer internships for hands-on experience, a great way to get to know a pharmacy before committing to the 6 year process of becoming a pharmacist.


the pharmacy technician certification board (ptcb) requires you to have a diploma and pass a certification exam. the national healthcareer association (nha) requires you to be 18 years old and have a high school diploma, a formal training program, and a year of work under your belt.

you’ll be required to re-certify every 2 years because of the rate of change in healthcare policies and advances in the field. pursuing 20 hours of continuing education will keep you up-to-date. many pharm techs report that this process of staying current (along with the patience of keeping up with a busy pharmacy) are the most challenging parts of the job.

pharmacy technician


most pharm techs are found in hospitals, retail pharmacies, assisted living and education institutions, and veterinary offices. the bureau of labor statistics predicts employment growth of about 20 percent for the field through 2022—faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. those stats amounts to 70,700 new positions to be filled during that period.

here are some of the biggest current employers in the field:

pharmacy technician


the average salary is $38,600 nationally, with rates increasing with seniority, specialty certifications, and competitive institutional pay scale policies. the metropolitan areas that offer the highest compensation are all located in california, including the metropolitan areas of oakland, napa, san francisco, san jose, and madera.

pharmacy technician

sample job posting

pharmacy technician,  orlando, fl

under the direct supervision of the pharmacy services call center supervisor, the pharmacy call center technician is responsible for providing knowledgeable and courteous customer assistance and response to members, providers, and pharmacy call center technician inquiries.

position qualifications/requirements

education and training: high school diploma or the equivalent

experience: 2 years pharmacy technician experience in a healthcare, long term care or retail environment; minimum 35 wpm typing

required experience: pharmacy tech, high school, national pharmacy technician certification: 3 years

licenses, registrations or certifications: national pharmacy technician certification

principal accountabilities
  • handles calls and correspondence regarding pharmacy issues from providers/physicians and members. documents calls in inquiry tracking system. facilitates problem resolution and acts as customer advocate.
  • performs initial research of pharmacy issues. reconciles plan information utilizing department-generated procedures and reference materials. utilizes internal pharmacy systems to update, modify and extract member information.
  • assists network pharmacist in processing prescription claims. reviews claims for accuracy and adherence to contract guidelines maintained.
  • assists with entering prior authorizations when required; provides follow up assistance for prior authorization requests, follows up with requests from physicians for denial letters, provides assistance in gathering historical claim information as required.
  • discriminates between routine and significant matters; apprises management of issues which can negatively affect service and business. identifies provider/physician/member issues and refers to appropriate departments.
  • maintains a balance of productivity, quality, and timeliness of job accountabilities.
  • demonstrates flexibility and cooperation when faced with changing priorities to meet shifting needs.
  • creates and supports an environment which fosters teamwork, cooperation, respect, and diversity.
  • assists with training of new hires. attends required training as requested. develops and maintains desktop procedures.

apply here: pharmacy technician

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.