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How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are no national standard educational or certification requirements for pharmacy technicians, although certain states require a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent. Pharmacy technician programs are available through a number of colleges, technical schools, hospitals and the military. These programs lead to a diploma, certificate or associate of arts degree.

On-the-Job Training

Pharmacy technicians often learn their trade through informal on-the-job training. Technicians generally spend three to six months learning their job under a licensed pharmacist or another technician. This type of training doesn't provide the level of education acquired from formal training, which is often preferred by employers.

Career Diplomas

Certain schools and organizations offer pharmacy technician diploma or certificate programs. In this type of program you learn medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical recordkeeping and calculations, pharmacy law and ethics. You also learn the names, uses, actions, dosages and labeling for different types of medications. Diploma and certificate programs range in length from six to 12 months and may include an internship.

Associate of Arts

The associate of arts degree for pharmacy technicians includes the same education that a career or diploma program provides, as well as general education requirements. An associate’s degree generally takes two years to complete. The advantage of earning a degree through an accredited college is that some or all of the credits earned may be transferable to another college or university.


Certain states and employers do require certification. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians, or ICPT, offer national certification by examination. Those who pass the ICPT exam are granted the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician. To be eligible for certification, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent and have no felony convictions. Candidates for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board are not permitted to have drug- or pharmacy-related convictions of any kind, including misdemeanors. Technicians apply for recertification every two years.