PHARMACY TECHNICIAN: Definition, Duties, Salary, Certification & Courses

pharmacy technician

Looking for a vital healthcare career that you can begin right away? Becoming a pharmacy technician could be the right path for you! As a pharmacy technician, you will work alongside licensed pharmacists to fill patient prescriptions accurately and safely. You will not simply count pills and label bottles: A pharmacy technician (PT) duties can range from filing and tracking insurance claims to preparing intravenous drugs and maintaining the supply chain. If these characteristics seem like you, then read on to find out everything about a pharmacy technician including their duties, the course required, salary, and all about the pharmacy technician certification board. 

What Is a Pharmacy Technician?

If you’ve ever gone to your local drugstore to pick up a prescription, you’ve probably interacted with a pharmacy technician. A pharmacy technician, duties are to work under the direction of a pharmacist, assists both the pharmacist and the customer, frequently acting as a liaison between the two.

The duties of a Pharmacy technician are measuring, mixing, and compounding pharmaceuticals, contacting doctors’ offices to confirm dosing instructions, or confirming their approval of prescription renewals, depending on the setting in which they operate.

Pharmacy technicians operate in a variety of settings, including grocery stores and department stores. Many PT jobs are available at local and national drug stores. These medical experts are also employed by health systems with inpatient and outpatient pharmacies to assist with the processing of prescription requests.

What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?

Pharmacists oversee pharmacy technicians. They are in charge of the pharmacy’s overall efficiency and safety. Typically, their time is divided between applying their technical expertise for prescriptions and providing customer service.

They assist patients in filling or ordering medicines, as well as discussing any concerns with the pharmacist. They also ensure that everything in the pharmacy functions well, including phone and technological operations, customer service, and communication among coworkers.

Depending on where the pharmacy technician works, they may have the following duties:

#1. Hospital-based pharmacy technicians

In a hospital, a pharmacy technician perform some duties with IV drugs (medicine supplied through a needle and tubing in a patient’s vein) and do additional laboratory preparation such as sterilizing (deep cleaning).

Pharmacy technicians may also manage drug-dispensary machines (automated vending machines that dispense medicine) that nurses utilize on an as-needed basis for patients.

#2. Retail pharmacy technicians

In a traditional pharmacy (such as a grocery shop or drugstore), pharmacy technicians mostly conduct customer service and speak with patients who require medicine or guidance.

They frequently answer inquiries concerning medicine administration, such as dosage and time. A PT may not have all of the answers, but if they get stuck, they can seek assistance from the pharmacist.

#3. Mail-order pharmacy technicians

These technicians work from a workstation in an office-like setting, filling prescriptions. They may be in charge of managing patient databases, filling prescriptions, and taking inventory.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

On-the-job training will help pharmacy technicians learn various abilities. Here’s where to begin:

#1. Earn a high school diploma or equivalent

A high school diploma or similar is usually required for pharmacy technicians in most states.

#2. Complete on-the-job training. 

On-the-job training allows pharmacy technicians to learn a variety of skills.

#3. Receive a postsecondary education in pharmacy technology. 

A college program is beneficial, but it is not essential for the occupation. These programs, which often last one year or fewer, are offered by vocational schools and community colleges.

#4. Get certified. 

Some states and businesses, though not all, need certification to work as a pharmacy technician. Certification is available through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association.

#5. Stay up to date with your continuing education. 

Every two years, certified technicians must recertify. You must finish at least 20 hours of continuing education to do so.

Postsecondary programs may teach pharmacy-related mathematics and help students become acquainted with the names, uses, and dosages of drugs. Best practices for medicine dispensing, as well as pharmacy legislation and ethics, will be reviewed. Internships are available in several training programs, allowing students to get practical experience.

Pharmacy Technician Salary 

The average annual salary for a Compounding Pharmacy Technician in Detroit is $34,715 as of April 17, 2023. In case you need a quick salary calculation, that works out to about $16.69 per hour. The Pharmacy Technician salary then equates to $667 every week or $2,892 per month. The compounding Pharmacy Technician salary presently varies from $32,587 (25th percentile) to $40,981 (75th percentile), with top earners (90th percentile) earning $46,906 per year. The average salary range for a Compounding Pharmacy Technician ranges substantially (up to $8,394), implying that there may be numerous prospects for promotion and higher income dependent on skill level, location, and years of experience.

Ways to Increase Your Salary as a Pharmacy Technician

There are numerous options for pharmacy technicians to advance their careers and earn a greater wage. It is frequently a matter of putting in a little extra grit, being innovative, and thinking outside the box.

Some pharmacy technicians have side hustles of some kind or another, but if you want to focus on making additional money inside your pharmacy tech employment, here are a few ideas:

  • Request greater responsibility and demonstrate that you are so vital that they cannot function without you.
  • Request a raise.
  • Obtain national certification. Because you have the qualification to back up your talents, many institutions will pay you a few dollars more per hour.
  • On your off days, look for per diem pharmacy tech jobs.
  • Consider becoming a travel pharmacy technician (see other parts of the country while being paid!)
  • Always look into the pay scales in your city and the nearby areas. Moving an hour away to be closer to a major city that can provide you a greater pay may make sense.
  • Consider moving to a different state that offers higher pay, particularly one with a lower cost of living. Because it is so expensive to live there, you may discover that you enjoy a higher quality of life even though the money isn’t that much higher.

Pharmacy Technician Course

A pharmacy technician course is a concentrated program that prepares you to flourish in the field of the retail, hospital, or mail-order pharmacy. It teaches you to think in a way that will assist you in meeting the needs of the patients and pharmacists with whom you deal. You will be exposed to a variety of courses that may appear unrelated to life in a pharmacy but will benefit you as you advance in your career. Depending on your school, you may be required to take the following courses:

  • Pharmacy Law
  • Ethics in Pharmacy
  • Healthcare Systems
  • Medical Terminology
  • Pharmacology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Pharmaceutical Calculations

After completing your curriculum, you will be placed in an externship. This is often a full-time career at a retail or hospital pharmacy, but you might also find work in a long-term care institution or another medical facility. Often, programs will collaborate with site coordinators to ensure that your experience is arranged in such a way that you are exposed to all relevant areas of the pharmacy tech career. During this experiential phase of your course, you will be able to apply what you have learned in the classroom to the real world while still being supervised by an educational institution.

The PT education should also prepare you to take a certification exam and obtain a state-issued license. That is to say, a pharmacy tech course prepares you for professional success.

Pharmacy Technician Certification & Licensing

You will almost certainly need to become certified or licensed after completing your training program. This will be determined by the state in which you work. Licenses from your state’s Board of Pharmacy allow you to work on a state level, whereas certification is national.

#1. Pharmacy Technician License

In order to work, certain states will require you to hold a pharmacy technician license. This will be provided to you by a government agency as proof that you are qualified to fulfill the tasks of the job.

#2. Pharmacy Technician Certification

Certification is another approach to demonstrate that you have completed the appropriate education and acquired the requisite abilities to operate in this field. A certificate, unlike a license, is obtained from a third-party agency rather than your state’s government.

These two organizations certify pharmacy technicians:

  • Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
  • National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

To be certified, you must pass a Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). Your certification will be valid for two years.

Even if you don’t operate in a state where a license is required, you’ll probably want to earn your national certification.

What are the Continuing Education Requirements for Pharmacy Technicians?

Pharmacy technicians who seek certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) must obtain continuing education credits in order to keep their status. The same cannot be said for those who confine their credentials to certificate programs.

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) offers a variety of certification programs, including:

  • Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) – This certification must be updated every two years by completing at least 20 hours of continuing education.
  • Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician (CSPT) – displays skill in the field of compounded sterile preparation.
  • Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv) – displays advanced pharmacy technician experience.
  • Medication History Certificate – displays the expertise required to collect detailed and accurate medical histories, check prescriptions to ensure dosing accuracy, and much more.
  • Technician Product Verification Certificate – proves the capacity to protect patients from incorrect medication dispensing.
  • Hazardous Drug Management Certificate – indicates a dedication to reducing the risk of hazardous pharmaceuticals.
  • Billing and Reimbursement Certificate– displays knowledge of third-party payers and reimbursement processes.
  • Controlled Substances Diversion Prevention Certificate – demonstrates understanding of controlled substance diversion prevention tactics and DEA standards.
  • Immunization Certificate – shows the knowledge and skills required to deliver immunizations to patients safely.

Those with a minimum of four programs completed, including TPV and/or Medication History, or three programs and the CSPT certification, and at least three years of work experience, will be eligible to acquire the CPhT-Adv certificate.

Where Can I Learn More About Becoming a Pharmacy Technician? 

Pharmacy technician programs are available at several community institutions. Once again, ensure that your program is accredited by the ACPE or the ASHP.

Visit the ASHP website, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) website, or the National Pharmacy Tech Association (NPTA) website for more information on programs and career.

Talking to pharmacy technologists on LinkedIn or other social media platforms might also help you learn more about them. Alternatively, if you happen to be in a pharmacy during a slack period, why not question the technician on duty about life in this profession?

What is Another Name for a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy technicians are frequently referred to as pharmacy assistants or pharmacy aides.

Can a Pharmacy Technician Become a Pharmacist in USA?

Before becoming a pharmacist in the United States, you must undergo clinical experience. The criteria vary by state, but most require 1,200 to 2,000 hours of clinical practice. Remember that your past experience as a PT will most likely not count toward your clinical hours.

What is the Difference Between Pharmacist and Pharmacy Technician?

The duties of a Pharmacy technician are primarily to help with secretarial tasks at a pharmacy or hospital. While pharmacists are primarily responsible for ensuring that patients’ prescriptions are correctly and safely supplied.

Is Pharmacology the Same as Pharmacy Technician?

The amount of schooling is most likely the most significant distinction between a pharmacist and a pharmacy technician. A pharmacy technician may be needed to complete a short schooling or training program. A pharmacist, on the other hand, requires a Ph.D. in pharmacology.

What is the Highest Position for a Pharmacy Tech?

A pharmacy technician III is the highest degree of certification in the job route, requiring additional experience and training.

Which Pharmacy Pays Pharmacy Technicians the Most?

Top firms in the United States for Pharmacy Technicians include:

  • Kaiser Permanente. $33.07per hour.
  • US Department of Veterans Affairs. $ 32.51 per hour.
  • specialty rx. $ 27.90 per hour.
  • U.S. Army. $ 26.77 per hour.
  • Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. $ 21.67 per hour.

Which Pharmacy Course has the Highest Salary?

Pharmacists’ highest-paying occupations include:

  • Ambulatory care pharmacist. 
  • Clinical pharmacist.
  • Clinical pharmacologist.
  • Compounding pharmacist.
  • Hospital pharmacist.
  • In-store pharmacist.
  • Pharmacometrician.

What is the Hardest Part of Being a Pharmacy Technician?

One disadvantage of working as a PT is that you may have to work long hours. Your role is critical in order for pharmacies to remain open and service their customers. Because of your shift schedule, it can be difficult to plan family activities and events.


Success in the pharmacy tech sector is not easy. To achieve your best, you must devote sufficient time to studying and absorbing all of the knowledge. You must be detail-oriented while also being able to solve larger-picture issues that arise throughout the course. Overall, you must have a scientific mentality. Best wishes!


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