If you’re interested in entering the pharmaceutical world but are hesitant about where to start, this article is for you.

Do you also want to pursue a career in pharmacy, but are having second thoughts after looking at the tuition fee and the number of hours you’ll have to spend in school?

If you nodded yes, you should consider becoming a pharmacy technician!

A pharmacy technician is the first point of contact in a pharmacy and works under the supervision of a pharmacist. The demand for pharmacy technicians is projected to grow at a rate of 5% annually.

If you’re here, and having a career as a pharmacy technician has probably crossed your mind, you might be wondering, “How long it takes to become a pharmacy technician?”

The most important step towards becoming a pharmacy technician is your training. So in this article, we’ll look a the different training options and how long it takes to complete them.

What is a Pharmacy Technician?

Firstly, let’s discuss what a Pharmacy Technician is, and what they do.

A Pharmacy Technician is a healthcare professional who works under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist to help ensure that patients receive the correct medications.

Their primary responsibilities include:

1. Assisting Pharmacists: Pharmacy Technicians work alongside pharmacists in various settings, such as retail pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, or long-term care facilities. They assist in dispensing medications and providing information to patients.

2. Medication Dispensing: They measure, mix, count, label, and dispense medications to patients based on prescriptions written by doctors or other healthcare professionals.

3. Inventory Management: Pharmacy Technicians are responsible for managing the inventory of medications. This involves ordering, receiving, and storing medications, as well as keeping track of stock levels.

4. Customer Service: They often interact with patients and healthcare providers, answering questions about medications, dosage instructions, and potential side effects. Good communication skills are crucial in this role.

5. Data Entry: Pharmacy Technicians enter prescription and patient information into the computer systems accurately. This helps maintain organized records and ensures that the right medication is dispensed to the right patient.

6. Insurance Processing: They may work with insurance companies to process medication claims, ensuring that patients receive the coverage they are entitled to and that the pharmacy is appropriately reimbursed.

7. Compounding Medications: In certain settings, Pharmacy Technicians may be involved in compounding medications, especially in hospital pharmacies where medications may need to be customized for specific patient needs.

8. Maintaining Cleanliness: Technicians are responsible for maintaining a clean and organized work environment to comply with safety and regulatory standards.

Pharmacy Technician Training – How Long Do Different Programs Last?

For Pharmacy Techs, there are three different ways by which you can complete your Training:

  • Complete an Associate degree from a college or university.
  • Diploma from a community college
  • Online certification programs or courses (Highly recommended)

So, let’s understand more about these and understand the overall duration, cost, and education you will get.

Read more: Pharmacy Technician Job Description 

How Long Does An Associate’s Degree Take For Pharmacy Technicians?

  • Duration- 2 years
  • Cost- $20,000 to $40,000

It takes 2 years to complete an associate degree program, and you’ll typically find them at a university. Degree programs have always been the popular choice, and longer durations help you to master the different pharmacy technician skills.

However, there’s a major problem with these full-time associate degree programs: High Tuition Fees.

The cost of enrollment for a degree program can go as high as $40,000. To afford such a high cost, you might have to rely on student loans. Another disadvantage that an associate’s degree offers is its lengthy duration.

It takes 2 years to complete the program, and attending regular classes for two years can prove to be challenging. Not only that, you also have to take into account additional expenses like accommodation, traveling, and food.

Because of these two major problems, associate degree programs are no longer recommended for Pharmacy Techs.

How Long Does A Diploma Take For Pharmacy Technicians?

  • Duration- 1 Year
  • Cost- $8,000 to $10,000

You can enroll in a 1-year diploma or certificate program at a community college. A diploma program is faster and cheaper compared to a degree program.

However, attending scheduled classes is another issue that might become a hassle with a diploma program. Let’s say you get busy and fail to attend a class. That means you can miss an important topic. But can’t you attend the same class (or a topic) at a later date?

Well, to answer briefly, no, and that’s the problem! To attend the same class (or lecture), you’ll have to wait months.

This means you lag, and sometimes you have to wait a whole year before you can take the same class. This makes you complete the diploma later than you should’ve

How Long Do Online Pharmacy Technicians Programs Take?

  • Duration- Upto 6 Months
  • Cost- Less than $5000

If you want to start your career faster, you can enroll in pharmacy technician online schools. They offer the most cost-effective, convenient, and quickest way to acquire the essential skills and start your career.

Online courses contain pre-recorded classes, ensuring freedom and flexibility to learn at your own pace. With these types of courses, there are no set schedules. Additional expenses like travel or food expenses can also be avoided as you learn from the comfort of your home.

Finally, and this is a big one, online programs are far more affordable compared to full-time programs. Ultimately, if you’re looking for fast and efficient pharmacy tech training, then we recommend going for an online training program.

A girl at Pharmacy

What Do You Learn in Your Pharmacy Technician Training Program?

Pharmacy technician training programs are designed to prepare individuals for entry-level positions in pharmacies, hospitals, or other healthcare settings.

The specific program may vary depending on the institution offering the program, but here are some common topics covered in most of them:

  • Pharmaceutical calculations: As a Pharmacy Technician, you will learn how to perform calculations related to medication dosages, conversions, and compounding. You will also get to learn about different drug classes, their uses, and potential side effects. A Pharmacy Technician must understand how medications work and interact with the human body.
  • Pharmacy law and ethics: Pharmacy technicians need to be aware of the legal and ethical aspects of their profession. In your training program, you will learn about the legal and ethical considerations involved in pharmacy practice, including regulations related to patient privacy and confidentiality.
  • Prescription Processing: This will help you understand how to interpret and process prescriptions, including verifying patient information, dosage instructions, and medication interactions.
  • Medication safety and inventory management: During your Pharmacy Technician Training Program, you will learn about proper storage conditions, expiry dates, and how to handle different types of medications, such as liquids, creams, and pills. Further, you will learn how to maintain accurate records and manage pharmacy inventory.
  • Compounding and sterile products: During your training period, you will learn the principles and techniques involved in preparing sterile products, such as intravenous medications, as well as compounding non-sterile medications. You may also learn basic first aid and CPR techniques to handle emergencies in a pharmacy setting. CPR technique is an emergency life-saving procedure done when someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. (Related: Pharmacy Technician Compounding)
  • Pharmacy calculations and measurements: This will tell you how to measure and compound medications accurately, including understanding different measurement systems (e.g., metric, apothecary).
  • Pharmacy technology and software:  Training may include instruction on using pharmacy software systems, such as electronic health records (EHRs) and medication dispensing systems. Additionally, pharmacy technician training programs may include supervised practical experiences, such as internships or externships, where students can apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world pharmacy setting.

What does a pharmacy technician do
What is a Pharmacy Technician?

pharmacy techn

Next Steps After Completing Your Pharmacy Technician Training

Here’s what you need to do after completing your education:-

  1. Get Certified: You need to sit for your certification examinations and get certified as a Pharmacy Tech. While certification is not always mandatory, it demonstrates your competence and can enhance your job prospects. PTCB offers certification for pharmacy technicians, and it is nationally recognized.
  2. Get Experience: Before you start working, it is recommended to get some hands-on experience. You can do that through an externship or an internship. Few programs offer an externship opportunity. Having experience under your belt can prove to be beneficial when you’re applying for jobs.
  3. Look for Jobs: Start looking for pharmacy technician job openings in various healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, and outpatient facilities. You can also consider registering yourself for different job board websites after knowing Pharmacy Technician’s Salary. (Related: Where can Pharmacy Technicians Work)

How Long Does It Take To Become A Pharmacy Technician?

Considering all of these steps, it can take 6-8 months to become a pharmacy technician. This is the case if you choose an online training program. If you choose a full-time program, it can take 2-3 years to start your career as a pharmacy tech.


The path to becoming a Pharmacy Technician is a manageable journey that typically involves completing a formal education program, gaining practical experience, and, in some cases, obtaining certification.

The duration of this process can vary, but with dedication and effort, aspiring Pharmacy Technicians can enter this rewarding healthcare profession in a relatively short period.

Whether you choose a traditional educational route or an accelerated program, the key lies in staying informed about the specific requirements in your region and taking the necessary steps to build the skills and knowledge essential for success in this role.

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About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.