How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacy Tech?

How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacy Tech: You Need to Know

The time it takes to become a pharmacy technician can vary depending on the type of training program you choose:

  • Diploma or certificate programs: These programs can be completed in as little as four months to one year. They provide the basic education and training required to sit for the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) exam.

  • Associate’s degree programs: These programs take up to two years to complete and offer a more comprehensive education in pharmacy technology.

In some states, you may be able to get a pharmacy technician job right out of high school and train on the job. However, most states require you to complete at least a certification course.

Here’s a breakdown of the total time commitment:

This timeframe considers factors like:

  • Chosen program type (certificate vs. associate’s degree)
  • Your study pace for the certification exam
  • Time to find a job (if on-the-job training isn’t offered)

If you’re looking for the quickest route, some online certificate programs can be completed in as little as four months. But if you’re interested in a more in-depth education, an associate’s degree program might be a better fit, though it takes longer.

What is a Pharmacy Tech?

A pharmacy technician, often referred to as a pharmacy tech, works under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Their duties include preparing medications, managing inventory, processing prescriptions, and providing customer service. They are essential to the smooth operation of pharmacies, whether in hospitals, clinics, or retail settings. Discover about Does Health Insurance Cover Chiropractic

Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy Tech

Basic Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Tech

To become a pharmacy tech, there are some fundamental requirements:

  • Age and Education Prerequisites: Generally, you need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Background Checks and Legal Requirements: Most states require pharmacy techs to pass a background check and may have additional legal requirements.

Educational Pathways

There are several educational routes you can take to become a pharmacy tech:

  • High School Diploma or GED: The first step is completing high school or obtaining a GED. This provides the basic educational foundation needed for further training. Learn about How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System

Pharmacy Tech Certification Programs

Certification programs are a common path for aspiring pharmacy techs:

  • Overview of Certification Programs: These programs are often offered by community colleges, vocational schools, and online institutions.
  • Length and Structure: Certification programs typically take between 6 months to a year to complete, focusing on both theoretical and practical aspects of the job.

Associate Degree Programs

For those seeking a more in-depth education:

  • Detailed Look at Associate Degrees: An associate degree in pharmacy technology provides a comprehensive education, including general education courses and specialized pharmacy tech training.
  • Time Commitment and Curriculum: These programs usually take about two years to complete and cover a wide range of topics, from pharmacology to healthcare ethics.

On-the-Job Training

Some pharmacy techs receive their training directly on the job:

  • What to Expect: On-the-job training involves learning while working under the supervision of experienced pharmacists and pharmacy techs.
  • Duration and Content: This training can vary in length but typically lasts a few months.

Certification and Licensing

Certification is an important step:

  • Importance of Certification: While not all states require certification, it can enhance job prospects and credibility.
  • Steps to Getting Certified: The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offer certification exams.
  • Time Required: Preparing for and taking these exams usually takes a few months.

Internships and Externships

Practical experience is invaluable:

  • Role of Internships: Internships provide hands-on experience in a real-world pharmacy setting.
  • Duration and Benefits: These programs can last from a few weeks to several months, offering practical knowledge and skills.

Online Pharmacy Tech Programs

For those needing flexibility:

  • Flexibility and Time Management: Online programs allow you to study at your own pace.
  • Duration: Online courses can be completed in a similar timeframe to traditional programs, often within 6 months to a year.

State-Specific Requirements

Each state has its own regulations:

  • Variations in State Regulations: Some states have specific requirements for pharmacy techs, including additional exams or training.
  • Impact on Timeline: These requirements can extend the time needed to become fully qualified.

Continuing Education

Lifelong learning is key:

  • Importance of Lifelong Learning: Continuing education ensures pharmacy techs stay current with industry changes.
  • Requirements: Maintaining certification typically involves completing continuing education courses periodically.

Job Search and Employment

Finding a job is the final step:

  • Tips for Finding a Job Quickly: Networking, utilizing job boards, and preparing a strong resume can expedite the job search.
  • Impact on Timeline: The job search process can vary but usually takes a few weeks to a few months.
Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy Tech

Summary of Timeframes

Recapping the different paths:

  • Typical Timeline: Becoming a pharmacy tech can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the chosen path and state requirements.


Becoming a pharmacy tech is a process that involves education, training, and certification. While the timeline can vary, understanding the steps involved helps you plan effectively and pursue this rewarding career with confidence.


How long does it take to complete a pharmacy tech program?

Typically, it takes between 6 months to a year to complete a pharmacy tech certification program.

Can I become a pharmacy tech online?

Yes, many institutions offer online pharmacy tech programs that provide the same education and training as traditional in-person programs.

Do I need to be certified to work as a pharmacy tech?

While not all states require certification, it is highly recommended as it can enhance job prospects and professional credibility.

How much does a pharmacy tech program cost?

The cost can vary widely but generally ranges from $500 to $5,000, depending on the program and institution.

What skills are important for a pharmacy tech?

Important skills include attention to detail, strong communication, basic math proficiency, and customer service skills.

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