Pharmacy Technicians



What's Needed:

  • Those pursuing careers in this field will be significantly more attractive to employers after completing a pharmacy technician certificate program.
  • Many community colleges online universities and vocational schools offer one-year pharmacy technician certificate programs. This minimizes the need for on-the-job training.
  • Those who lack educational credentials may require several weeks of intensive on-the-job training after being hired.

What you study:

There are few formal educational prerequisites for aspiring pharmacy technicians. However those who wish to become certified should have a solid background in the following subjects:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Statistics
  • Basic medical law
  • Ethics
  • Pharmacology

What courses you'll take

Below are examples of courses that you'll likely take as a pharmacy technician student.

Introduction to PharmacyCore concepts of pharmaceutical care and technology; the pharmacy as a work environment; job duties and professional standards of a pharmacy technician; safety and sanitation in a pharmacy; basic terminology and abbreviations used in the field; legal and ethical concerns.Familiarize students with the fundamentals of pharmacy work.
Drug Classification and CalculationTypes of pharmaceutical drugs and the types of diseases treated by each one; ways of administering various drugs; measurements of drug weight concentration and percentage; math concepts necessary for accurate dosage calculation and measurement conversion.Prepare students to handle drugs in a pharmacy environment.
Disease and PharmacologyPharmacodynamics (what a drug does to the body) and pharmacokinetics (what the body does to the drug); physiology (function) of organs and systems within the human body; stages of various diseases and the pharmaceutical interventions appropriate to each; drug side effects interactions overdoses and toxicities.Give understanding of the body's interactions with drugs.
Community PharmacyProcessing preparing compounding labeling and dispensing prescriptions in a pharmacy that deals directly with customers in a local area; effective communication with pharmacists and customers; offering over-the-counter drug recommendations; maintaining records and managing inventory.Ready students for pharmacy work in a community setting.
Institutional PharmacyPackaging labeling compounding and distributing drugs in pharmacies that service clinical settings such as nursing homes and hospitals; organization and workflow in institutional pharmacies; controlling inventory; medical terminology used in clinical settings; methods of distributing and administering drugs to patients.Get students ready to work in a clinical pharmacy.

Video Overview

Briefly recaps the work of pharmacy technicians. Produced for the US Dept. of Labor.

Certifications and Licensing

Licensing and certification requirements for pharmacy technicians vary from state to state. While most states don't require these workers to receive formal certification or licenses many employers avoid hiring non-certified technicians. In the United States the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board is the principal issuer of certifications in this field.

Although it may cost a substantial amount of money to take the certification exam some employers include free certification as an employee benefit. Many employers agree to hire non-certified pharmacy technicians on the condition that they receive certification. Additionally many state pharmacy boards require these workers to receive periodic continuing-education instruction through community colleges or certification organizations. Certified workers may command higher salaries and more prestigious positions in hospitals and other clinical settings.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Most of these workers are paid by the hour and work more than 30 hours per week. Since many drugstores and medical clinics are open around the clock this job may involve non-traditional shifts. However pharmacy technicians typically have some control over their hours. This privilege usually increases with seniority: More experienced technicians may be able to work during regular business hours.

Work location:

By definition pharmacy technicians must work in on-site pharmacy environments. While most work in classic drugstores and pharmacies some may work in larger facilities like grocery stores or big-box superstores. About one in five pharmacy techs works in clinical settings like hospitals and doctor's offices.

Recommended Websites

These four websites contain useful resources for those interested in pursuing pharmacy technician careers.

  • National Pharmacy Technician Association — An offshoot of the non-profit International Federation of Pharmacy Technicians the NPTA offers certification continuing education and job-search resources for existing pharmacy technicians. It also provides aspiring pharmacy techs with valuable information about the field's current and future jobs picture.
  • U.S. Department of Labor — The U.S. Department of Labor regularly updates a comprehensive fact sheet for current and prospective pharmacy technicians. This useful primer contains information about education certification and future job growth prospects. It also provides median salary information and a detailed snapshot of the typical technician's work environment.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

$18K – $36K3200.22%

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$39700$28K – $53K4100.24%
AKFairbanks$38380$28K – $49K900.26%
ALAnniston – Oxford$23010$17K – $33K1800.40%
ALAuburn – Opelika$26310$20K – $34K2400.49%
ALBirmingham – Hoover$24030$18K – $35K17300.36%
ALDecatur$26210$20K – $34K1900.36%
ALDothan$24250$18K – $37K2200.39%
ALFlorence – Muscle Shoals$21630$16K – $37K2000.39%
ALGadsden$22940$17K – $33K1800.52%
ALHuntsville$27290$20K – $37K4700.23%
ALMobile$23380$17K – $36K5000.29%
ALMontgomery$26420$18K – $39K4800.30%
ALTuscaloosa$28160$18K – $38K2700.30%
ARFayetteville – Springdale – Rogers$25030$20K – $35K4900.24%
ARFort Smith$24150$19K – $34K3000.26%
ARHot Springs$24270$19K – $32K1100.32%
ARJonesboro$24830$18K – $33K1800.37%
ARLittle Rock – North Little Rock – Conway$26500$20K – $37K11900.36%
ARPine Bluff$25360$20K – $34K1700.48%
AZFlagstaff$31170$24K – $44K1000.19%
AZLake Havasu City $ Kingman$29150$22K – $39K1800.41%
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$32160$23K – $43K44900.26%
AZPrescott$31750$22K – $41K1600.30%
AZTucson$32070$24K – $42K12400.36%
AZYuma$30100$23K – $38K1400.26%
CABakersfield – Delano$34860$26K – $52K7200.26%
CAChico$38540$32K – $54K3400.51%
CAEl Centro$33750$26K – $44K1100.22%
CAFresno$36990$29K – $46K7300.23%
CAHanford – Corcoran$40280$31K – $46K1300.33%
CALos Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)$36420$27K – $47K72900.19%
CAMadera – Chowchilla$42020$32K – $67K1600.41%
CAMerced$40570$28K – $48K900.16%
CAModesto$36090$26K – $49K5200.34%
CANapa$44530$31K – $58K1100.18%
CAOakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)$44120$33K – $61K19100.20%
CAOxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura$35530$27K – $46K4800.17%
CARedding$38120$28K – $46K1600.28%
CARiverside – San Bernardino – Ontario$35370$25K – $48K34500.30%
CASacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville$37250$30K – $56K20700.25%
CASalinas$42020$27K – $55K2600.16%
CASan Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos$$29K – $52K23800.19%
CASan Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)$42130$31K – $61K13800.14%
CASan Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara$47930$32K – $67K13600.15%
CASan Luis Obispo – Paso Robles$41300$32K – $49K2200.21%
CASanta Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)$36490$26K – $50K33800.24%
CASanta Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta$37680$29K – $49K3500.21%
CASanta Cruz – Watsonville$38930$27K – $52K2700.32%
CASanta Rosa – Petaluma$41500$32K – $58K4100.24%
CAStockton$40550$32K – $53K6300.32%
CAVallejo – Fairfield$42490$27K – $58K4100.34%
CAVisalia – Porterville$34670$26K – $44K3400.26%
CAYuba City$36090$31K – $45K1300.36%
COBoulder$30210$25K – $44K2700.17%
COColorado Springs$30520$22K – $39K6400.26%
CODenver – Aurora – Broomfield$33760$25K – $44K21200.17%
COFort Collins – Loveland$32300$23K – $39K2500.19%
COGrand Junction$33770$26K – $40K800.13%
COGreeley$29470$22K – $39K1700.21%
COPueblo$29140$21K – $38K1900.34%
CTBridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk$29910$22K – $45K7600.18%
CTDanbury$29520$21K – $43K1200.18%
CTHartford – West Hartford – East Hartford$30410$21K – $44K11800.21%
CTNew Haven$35250$24K – $49K6400.23%
CTNorwich – New London$28490$21K – $43K2900.22%
CTWaterbury$34130$22K – $54K1200.19%
DCWashington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)$31770$22K – $47K37200.16%
DEDover$24800$19K – $36K1500.25%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$29410$20K – $43K5600.17%
FLCape Coral – Fort Myers$29060$21K – $40K5600.28%
FLCrestview – Fort Walton Beach – Destin$29770$22K – $39K1900.27%
FLDeltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach$28110$20K – $38K4900.33%
FLFort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$28620$22K – $38K25100.35%
FLGainesville$28440$21K – $41K5000.42%
FLJacksonville$28200$20K – $37K15400.27%
FLLakeland – Winter Haven$26600$20K – $35K5400.28%
FLMiami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)$27040$21K – $37K30400.30%
FLNaples – Marco Island$31110$22K – $38K3800.33%
FLNorth Port – Bradenton – Sarasota$29420$22K – $38K6600.28%
FLOcala$26030$20K – $35K3700.42%
FLOrlando – Kissimmee – Sanford$26540$20K – $36K33200.33%
FLPalm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville$27770$20K – $36K5800.30%
FLPalm Coast$27620$20K – $35K700.36%
FLPanama City – Lynn Haven – Panama City Beach$27950$20K – $36K2500.36%
FLPensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent$26400$20K – $38K4000.27%
FLPort St. Lucie$25060$18K – $36K4700.39%
FLPunta Gorda$30310$24K – $38K1400.34%
FLSebastian – Vero Beach$30850$22K – $37K1700.37%
FLTallahassee$27350$20K – $36K4400.28%
FLTampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater$27770$20K – $39K45600.40%
FLWest Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)$29860$22K – $38K14300.28%
GAAlbany$23310$17K – $36K2300.38%
GAAthens – Clarke County$27050$21K – $36K2300.29%
GAAtlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta$27390$19K – $38K57900.26%
GAAugusta – Richmond County$28000$19K – $38K7200.36%
GABrunswick$27820$21K – $36K800.21%
GAColumbus$27370$21K – $36K3600.33%
GADalton$26080$19K – $36K1500.23%
GAGainesville$27290$21K – $37K2000.28%
GAHinesville – Fort Stewart$29080$21K – $38K500.33%
GAMacon$25730$20K – $36K2600.28%
GARome$24200$19K – $44K
GAValdosta$24890$18K – $35K1900.39%
GAWarner Robins$23250$18K – $34K1700.31%
HIHonolulu$36690$26K – $47K9300.21%
IAAmes$27430$21K – $36K1100.27%
IACedar Rapids$27580$20K – $36K3700.27%
IADavenport – Moline – Rock Island$25300$20K – $34K6300.36%
IADes Moines – West Des Moines$27620$22K – $36K8200.25%
IADubuque$24900$20K – $32K1700.30%
IAIowa City$33370$23K – $47K3500.42%
IASioux City$25400$21K – $35K1700.25%
IAWaterloo – Cedar Falls$27680$19K – $39K3000.34%
IDBoise City – Nampa$30550$24K – $39K5900.23%
IDCoeur d'Alene ID$34900$26K – $45K1700.33%
IDIdaho Falls$29700$23K – $38K1400.28%
IDLewiston$32220$19K – $45K800.36%
IDPocatello$27660$20K – $37K1500.47%
ILBloomington – Normal$25930$20K – $37K1600.19%
ILChampaign – UrbanaN/AN/A – N/A2600.27%
ILChicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area)$29910$22K – $40K84700.23%

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