There are all sorts of places to get pharmacy technician training. Which begs the question, if you are interested in becoming a pharmacy technician...where should you start?

Well, I can tell you from training both pharmacy students and technicians that you have a number of different options and depending on where you live and which state you want to become certified in - some options are better than others.

Lets look at a few and the pros and cons of each.

1) On-The-Job Pharmacy Technician Training

Because of the state that I and my technicians practice in it's permissible for us to train this way. And frankly, if you have the option, this is the one I'd recommend which is why I put it first.

First of all, you have no upfront costs. For example, in the other options I'm going to show you, you have to pay to learn. You have to buy books or pay for courses. You have to drive to the school or pay for internet access and so forth.

When you are training to become pharmacy technician and you do it this way you simply look for a pharmacy technician job and offer to work and be trained at the same time. In short, you get to pay to learn to be a technician.

Granted, you won't start out at the higher salary of a certified technician - because you aren't one yet - but other than that the upside is huge.

So, how do you land a job like this?

Like I said, it depends on which state you are planning on working in as all states have different regulations and requirements.

But, if you work in a state that allows it simply keep your eyes filled for pharmacy technician job openings.

When you find one, call about it and explain your situation. You probably think that they'll tell you to go get some kind of training first. If that's the case, you are wrong.

I'm telling you right now, some of the best technicians I've had have been trained from the ground up. They didn't know a thing about pharmacy when they came in.

Plus, as an employer and trainer it gives me the option to train them how we want them to work in our pharmacy. They know all our little nuances and don't have to be retrained to get rid of something I might consider to be a bad habit.

Additionally, it's a win-win for both you and your employer.

Think about it, if it doesn't work out or you don't catch on quick enough you've spent $0. Additionally, the employer hasn't spent a whole lot either and since you'll be starting at a lower salary than a 'certified' technician the cost to them will also be lower.

Now I know that doesn't sound very appealing but it happens. So don't put rose colored glasses on and think that it doesn't. But, I will say it's rare.

So, just to recap. This is not only your cheapest option (for both you and your employer) it's probably the safest. You get to dip your toe in the pharmacy world and see if becoming a pharmacy technician is right for you. If it isn't, you simply move on. But if it does you've proved your worth to the employer, got your certification and also a raise to boot.

Speaking of certification...

As you're training you'll also be learning. But, you should also be studying because most employers give you two to three months to get up to speed and then have you take your certification exam.

But there is no quicker way to learn a subject backwards and forwards than to do it on the job.

2) Online Pharmacy Technician Courses

To stay with the general trend I think this is probably your second-best option.

Not only does it tend to be cheaper in the long run but you also avoid paying for gas to go to and from the brick and mortar school.

Additionally, you can also work at your own pace - or at least do your coursework as it's convenient for you.

Most of the online pharmacy technician courses that I've seen do place a limit on how long it should take you to finish your coursework - say six months. But, that should be plenty of time if you take it seriously and get after it when you need to.

As I'm sure you've found in your own life - I'd rather have one hour of serious studying than four hours of traveling to school, sitting in a classroom, milling around, talking with other students, grabbing lunch and then having to drive back.

This is saying nothing about having to get time off and taking time off work to go to class. These are opportunity costs that - whether you want to admit it or not - cost you one way or the other.

I'd search around a bit for costs but you'll probably be looking at anywhere from $1000 on up to a few thousand.

Of course, if you get after it and get the coursework done you'll be able to land a pharmacy technician job at a higher rate right off the bat. Which isn't something you'd be able to do with the 'on-the-job' option I mentioned above.


Attending a Pharmacy Technician School

This is meant in the most literal sense. Most of these schools are located at colleges of technology or community colleges and are designed to be finished in a year or so.

The biggest advantage of these types of schools is they allow you opportunities to learn in a practical setting.

Also, many of these schools have relationships with pharmacies and as soon as you get out you'll probably have a lock or at least a good opportunity to be hired.

Of course, the disadvantages are ones I've talked about already.
  • They're more expensive
  • They generally take longer
  • They cut into your time and increase opportunity costs (driving time, parking expense, class schedules that may require you to take time off your current job, etc.)
As you can see you have plenty of options.

My best advice is to look at where you live and call your local board of pharmacy and find out what they require for you to be a pharmacy technician in your state.

If you can work on the job and find an employer who is willing to do that...go for it. Other wise you'll want to start looking for the best online or offline pharmacy technician training program so you can land the best pharmacy technician job.