What exactly does a Pharmacy Technician do and how long does it take to become one?

HealthcareApril 07, 2020

Most of the time, when you go to the pharmacy to have a prescription filled you will interact with the pharmacy technician, not the pharmacist. The pharmacy technician, often called a Pharm Tech, may be the person who looks up your prescription, processes your insurance claim and accepts your payment. However, only the pharmacist can answer specific questions about the medication, including the dosage, side-effects and more.

Pharm Techs play a vital role in the healthcare industry. Under the supervision of a pharmacist, a pharmacy technician may receive prescription requests from patients and medical offices, measure and prepare medications, calculate dosages, package and label prescriptions, maintain inventory, establish and maintain patient records and more.

How long does it take to become a Pharm Tech?

That’s a tough question because there are so many variables.Some states don’t require formal training to become a licensed pharmacy technician, although candidates must have graduated from high school or received a GED. In those states, it’s still possible to qualify for the profession through on-the-job training. How long that might be varies on the pharmacist and the technician candidate. Whenever he or she is ready to take the state’s licensing test…that’s how long it takes.

Most states, however, require formal training at a college or vocational school. Studies can be as short as about four months, or as long as two years, depending on whether you want a certificate, diploma or associate degree. Virtually every program will include some math that is necessary to calculate dosages, basic medical and pharmaceutical terminology, how to maintain sterile conditions as well as the preparation of some medications, and basic computer skills. A pharmacy internship allows students to learn the process from the “inside.”

After completing your program, you’ll need to prep for and sit for your respective state’s licensing exam. Additionally, many employers require pharmacy technicians be certified, which means taking the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or National Health Association (NHA) certification test. The NHA exam requires formal training and a year of on-the-job experience before candidates qualify to even sit for the examination.

Technically, a certified pharmacy technician never finishes her or his training, because they must be re-certified every two years to ensure they’re up-to-date with all the advances that impact their work.

Now you see why the question of length of training is so hard to pin down to just one answer. Fortis offers pharmacy technician programs at campuses in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland and Tennessee. Upon completion of the pharmacy technician training program at Fortis, graduates are prepared for entry-level employment working with pharmacists in retail or online pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies and more. Go to our Pharmacy Technician Programs page to learn more about the profession, training, and where the program is offered closest to you.

Good luck on your path to becoming a Pharmacy Technician!  

In response to COVID-19 and following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and local, state and federal authorities, Fortis has transitioned to online and remote delivery of classes for all students. Fortis admissions teams have also transitioned to remote interview and enrollment processes, so prospective students do not need to visit the campus at this time​. More info can be found here:   

Call today to begin your education to become a pharmacy technician! 

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