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, having a career as a pharmacy technician has probably crossed your mind, and 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.

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 have to rely on student loans. Another disadvantage that an associate’s degree offers is the 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.

But, attending scheduled classes is another problem that exists 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?

No, that’s the problem! To attend the same class (or lecture), you’ll have to wait months.

This means you lag behind, and sometimes you have to wait a whole year before you can take the same class.

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.It’s crucial for a Pharmacy Technician to 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 basically 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.

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

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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. There are few programs that 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.

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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.