Guide to Becoming a Pharmacy Technician


Pharmacy Technicians provide valuable support to a pharmacist and their patients by processing and preparing medications in a retail or hospital setting. This stable and growing career field helps ensure the safe distribution of medications to patients and can provide a fulfilling future for those who work in the field. If you have ever dreamed of working in a pharmacy but were not sure where to start, read on to see how UEI College can help you prepare for an entry-level position in this field in as few as ten months.


If you're interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, consider enrolling in UEI College's Pharmacy Technician Program. You can earn your diploma in as little as 10 months, placing you on track to becoming a pharmacy technician. UEI College offers ongoing enrollment, so there is little to no waiting time between enrollment and beginning your pharmacy technician training.

What is a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy Technicians work alongside a pharmacist to prepare and distribute medications safely and quickly. They help ensure patients get the right medications and equipment they need to heal. Pharmacy Technicians do not provide direct care to patients, but a career in this field allows you to play a part in helping patients and growing professionally within the medical field.


Pharmacy Technicians are trained to process prescriptions, calculate pharmaceutical doses, handle insurance claims, and understand the effects of common medications.


“As a pharmacy technician, you get to help people on their way to recovery,” said Nataly Colon, a Pharmacy Technician Instructor. “Students in the PT program enjoy the hands-on learning experience at UEI. Students pursue PT to have more opportunities as a career in life and have a rewarding job. We are learning about medications and helping people we love.”

What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?

Working under the supervision of a pharmacist, Pharmacy Technicians help prepare prescriptions from physicians using pharmaceutical equipment and proper safety procedures. They may be responsible for locating certain medications, packaging them, and creating clear labels for the patient. They also help with other tasks within the pharmacy, like monitoring inventory, handling billing, filing insurance claims, updating records, and answering patient questions in person or over the phone.


Pharmacy Technicians are trained to use calculations and compounding in their preparation of prescriptions. They use computer programs to keep records and create labels.


“I enjoy teaching students about the filling of prescriptions, compounding, math calculations, and learning about medication,” said Andrea Redford, PT Instructor at UEI.


Training as a Pharmacy Technician will also prepare you for an entry-level position as a Billing and Quality Technician, Compounding Technician, or Certified Pharmacy Technician.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

It takes a great deal of knowledge and training to become a certified Pharmacy Technician but the process to begin may be easier than you think and can be completed in as few as ten months.


Step 1. Obtain Your High School Diploma or GED.

You will need a high school diploma or equivalent to become a licensed Pharmacy Technician in California. Pharmacy Technicians use formulas and calculations to help prepare prescription medications, so a basic understanding of math is an important skill to have.


Step 2: Complete a Pharmacy Technician Training Program.

California law requires Pharmacy Technicians to have completed a pharmacy technician training program to become certified. UEI College’s Pharmacy Technician Program will provide you with the necessary preparation to pursue a career as a pharmacy technician.


That said, California does NOT require you to have a two or four year college degree to become a pharmacy technician.


UEI College’s Pharmacy Technician program gives students the hands-on experience they need to understand dosages, medication preparation, sterile and non-sterile environments, record keeping, submitting insurance claims, and maintaining inventory. Students will also be taught customer service skills that will help during a job interview.


UEI College offers on-going enrollment, so you can begin training whenever is convenient for you. You can enroll on the same day and begin classes on the next start date. Start dates are available all year round.


The final step in UEI College’s training program is the opportunity to put your skills to work through an externship experience. We’ll match you with an externship site and put you to work, using the skills and knowledge you’ve gained over the course of the program. Under the supervision of a pharmacist, manager, or pharmacy technician, you’ll gain real-world experience and see firsthand how a pharmacy operates.


California does not require Pharmacy Technician applicants to become certified (as long as you have completed the appropriate coursework, you may be eligible to work), but doing so can add another boost to your resume and create opportunities for growth in the future. Certification is offered through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcare Association Pharmacy Technician Certification Program (ExCPT).


Step 3: Become licensed to work in the state of California.

The California State Board of Pharmacy must approve all applications to become a licensed Pharmacy Technician. This allows you to work legally in a pharmacy in California. Other states have their own rules and governing boards that may oversee pharmacy technicians.


The State Board of Pharmacy requires a criminal background check and fingerprint clearance. The process of reviewing applications may take up to 45 days.


To apply, you will pay a $195 non-refundable application fee and submit the application with all the necessary paperwork. You will need a passport-style photo, proof of high school graduation or equivalent, and completion of a training program.


While California does not require Pharmacy Technicians to become certified to work in an entry-level position, you may consider taking this additional step. Becoming certified proves your competency and may give you an extra edge over our competition.


Step 4: Begin Searching For a Position.

Once you are licensed to work in the state of California, you are ready to begin searching for open positions. Training through UEI College will prepare you for an entry-level position as:

  • Retail Pharmacy Technician
  • Hospital Inpatient Pharmacy Technician
  • Closed Door Pharmacy Technician
  • Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy Technician
  • Mail Order Pharmacy Technician
  • Home Health Care Pharmacy Technician
  • Purchasing Inventory Technician
  • Customer Service Clerk

UEI College graduates have access to the support of our Career Services department for help updating their resumes, finding open positions in their area, and practicing interviewing skills.


Step 5: Keep Learning.

New technology brings new advancements to medicine and pharmaceuticals. To be successful in this career, you should be open to continuous learning and growing. Gaining additional certifications will make you an even more valuable member of a pharmacy’s team. It may help you discover areas you would like to specialize in, like dermatology, oncology, and more.


“Becoming a professional pharmacy technician allows one to serve their community by helping others and to use different skills,” said PT Instructor Giovanni Gonzales.

What Are the Duties of a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy Technicians may have different duties depending on their pharmacy and state. They may be asked to:

  • Read prescription orders from a physician
  • Locate medications to prepare prescriptions orders
  • Prepare orders by mixing, counting, weighing, and doing any needed calculations
  • Submit claims to insurance to cover the cost of prescriptions
  • Distribute prescriptions to customers and collect payment
  • Update patient records to ensure accuracy
  • Prepare labels for prescriptions
  • Manage inventory

Pharmacy Technicians may obtain specialized training in managing oncology drugs, pediatrics, or other areas.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy Technicians play a vital role in the pharmacy, supporting the pharmacist, medical professionals, and customers who come in for their prescriptions. This role requires excellent training and excellent customer service skills.


The technical skills a pharmacy technician needs are:

  • Good understanding of math formulas and calculations
  • Understanding of how insurance companies work and how to file a claim
  • Knowledge of state and federal laws regarding the distribution of pharmaceuticals
  • Ability to operate equipment in a pharmacy setting
  • Knowledge about medications and their uses
  • Understanding of safety procedures and best practices
  • Recognizing expiration dates on medications and supplies
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time


The personal skills necessary to be a pharmacy technician include:

  • Attention to detail. A missed detail when working with pharmaceuticals could be a matter of life and death. It’s important for Pharmacy Technicians to have the ability to focus on the work in front of them to catch mistakes.
  • Great communicator. Pharmacy technicians communicate with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and patients daily. This communication may be verbal or written, and it is important in each interaction to be professional and clear to ensure that patient’s needs are being met and the correct medication is given.
  • Pharmacy Technicians are often asked to toggle between multiple duties, and it’s important in this line of work to be organized in each task. When you work as part of a team, it’s important that each member work in a similar way and follow safety guidelines.
  • Solution-oriented. Each position comes with unique challenges, and the ability to pivot and find new solutions to problems is key to success.

Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work?

Pharmacy Technicians work under the supervision of a pharmacist anywhere where medications are distributed. This may be in a retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, Outpatient clinic, mail order pharmacy, home health company, assisted living home, or nursing home.


They often work on their feet, walking from one shelf to the next to find medications and prepare prescription orders. Still, they may also spend a lot of time at a computer, reviewing prescriptions, creating labels, updating records, following up on billing or answering questions, directing calls, and communicating with other medical professionals.


Many pharmacies are open in the morning or evening and on holidays to serve the needs of patients, so it’s not unusual for a Pharmacy Technician to sometimes work odd hours.


Pharmacy technicians may also have the opportunity to work in pharmaceutical production companies, primary care physician offices, correctional facilities, or even a veterinary pharmacy.

Do You Need a College Degree to Become a Pharm Tech?

California does NOT require Pharmacy Technicians to have a college degree, but the state’s licensing board does require the completion of a pharmacy technician training program. Applicants wanting to work as Pharmacy Technicians in California must complete at least 240 hours of training or graduate from a training program.


UEI College’s Pharmacy Tech Training Program provides students with all the knowledge and skills they need to obtain an entry-level position in the field. Our program combines online learning, classroom instruction, and in-person lab experiences to teach students the fundamentals of how a pharmacy works, safety best practices, and state and federal laws surrounding pharmaceuticals.


At the conclusion of the Pharm Tech Program, students will be sent on an externship, using the skills and knowledge they’ve learned. During this time, they will have the opportunity to put their skills to the test and learn by training at a pharmacy.


After graduation, students can use their diploma from UEI College to become licensed to work as Pharmacy technicians in California. The laws regulating Pharmacy Technicians vary by state. Be sure to follow the rules in your area to prepare for employment.

What Are the Educational Requirements To Enroll in UEI College’s Pharmacy Technician Program?

To enroll in UEI College’s Pharmacy Technician Program, you must have your high school diploma or GED. This is the only educational requirement to enroll in the program. You are not required to have a college degree to enroll in the pharmacy technician program.

How Long is UEI College's Pharmacy Technician Program?

UEI College's Pharmacy Technician Program can be completed in as little as 10 months. Upon graduation, you will have earned your pharmacy technician diploma!


UEI College’s Pharmacy Technician training program focuses on hands-on learning through nine modules. These modules contain a combination of in-person instruction and hands-on lab training.


Each module covers multiple topics and takes about a month to complete. For the final module, you will be assigned to an externship where you can continue to build on your knowledge and see how a pharmacy operates. The externship is 120 hours of in-person, hands-on experience working inside a pharmacy.


If school has never been your thing, let our hands-on training change your mind. Experienced instructors will walk you through the process and provide extra support and tutoring when needed. In less than a year, you could be stepping into a new role you can be proud of.

What Do You Learn in the Pharmacy Technician Program?

UEI College’s Pharmacy Technician program teaches everything a student needs to know to prepare for an entry-level position as a pharmacy technician. The hands-on training provides fundamental knowledge about medications, pharmaceutical laws, safety procedures, and the differences between retail and hospital pharmacies. Students will also learn:

  • The history of pharmaceutical care and technology
  • Laws that relate to the distribution of pharmaceuticals
  • Medical terms that apply to a pharmacy setting
  • Updating patient records
  • Formulas and calculations that relate to medications
  • How to read a prescription
  • The role of a pharmacy technician in different types of pharmacies
  • Compounding procedures
  • How insurance claims relate to medications
  • Managing inventory in a pharmacy
  • Common disorders ad diseases and the medications used to treat them


 “Pharmacy Technician is a rewarding career path because you learn about medicine and gain new experiences,” said Pharmacy Technician instructor Jonatha Rodriguez. “In my experience, students in the pharmacy program enjoy learning about medicine and how to fill prescriptions.”

How to become registered, licensed, and certified as a Pharmacy Technician

UEI College’s Pharmacy Technician program ends with a 120-hour externship in a pharmacy. Students will put all their skills to use and continue learning by working side by side with current pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. You’ll see firsthand the inner workings of a retail or hospital pharmacy and continue gaining new skills to prepare you for an entry-level position in the field.

All the training and experience you need for a career as a Pharmacy Technician is less than a year away with training through UEI College’s Pharmacy Technician Program.

Should You Become a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy Technicians play a vital role in ensuring patients get their medications quickly and safely. They are an important part of the pharmacy team. If you dream of becoming a part of the medical field, are organized, and enjoy putting great attention to detail into your daily tasks, a career as a Pharmacy Technician could be a great fit for you. There are many benefits to this career, including:

#1. Fast Training

You can get started in this career field in as few as 10 months. The training is hands-on and includes opportunities to practice the skills needed to work in a pharmacy. A good training program will prepare you with all the knowledge and practice you need to feel comfortable starting an entry-level position in less than a year.


#2. Growing Field

Careers in the medical field are always changing and growing as technology advances. As more people have access to good medical care, the need for trained professionals in the field will continue to grow. Pharmacy technicians are needed anywhere medications are distributed. The qualifications to be licensed may vary from state to state, but the skills needed to work in an entry-level position are the same.


#3. Room For Professional Development

Entry-level positions are in hospitals or retail pharmacies, but the field has great potential for growth. As you gain experience, you may consider seeking further certifications or specializing in the treatment of one part of the body or disorder.


#4. Valuable Knowledge

Pharmacy Technicians learn a great deal about the medications they are handling and their effects on patients. This knowledge may be valuable for you in your personal life to help you understand the medications you or your family members are taking.


#5. Work On Your Feet

Pharmacy Technicians are often seen walking all over the pharmacy, finding medications, performing calculations, weighing, and packaging. They also may spend a good amount of time on the phone or computer communicating with medical professionals and insurance companies. There is almost always work to be done, and this may help the workday to fly by.


#6. Fulfilling

Patients depend on safe medications to help them heal, and Pharmacy Technicians are a valuable part of the team, ensuring they get the prescriptions they need quickly and safely.


“As Pharmacy Technicians we enjoy the process of compounding and gathering information and medicines,” said Branden Fuerst, PT Instructor at UEI.


Some of the possible disadvantages of being a Pharmacy Technician include:


#1. Long Hours

Some pharmacies have odd hours and are open in the evening, on weekends, and even on holidays. Pharmacy Technicians may be asked to work these long hours to help with the workflow.


#2. Work Can Be Tedious.

While there’s variety in standing and sitting, preparing medications may eventually become repetitive. It’s important for Pharmacy Technicians not to lose sight of the fact that each prescription is unique, and each patient deserves the same level of attention to detail as the last.


#3. Dealing with People

Good customer service skills are a must in just about any profession. Sometimes the customers picking up prescriptions may be tired and stressed out, so it’s important for Pharmacy Technicians to meet each person with a smile and provide the best service possible.



The work of pharmacy technicians is important. If the idea of working in a pharmacy, handling medications, and employing safety practices and attention to detail sounds like a good fit for you, give us a call today. Come in and tour our campus and take a look at our pharmacy technician lab. You could be prepared to enter this exciting field in as few as ten months.

What Should You Look for in a Pharmacy Technician Program?

If you are serious about becoming a Pharmacy Technician, then you should be serious about where you go for training. A good training program can give you all the knowledge and practice to feel confident stepping into a new role—and it doesn’t have to take more than a year. As you look at different programs, ask yourself these questions:


Does it provide the necessary training hours? California requires pharmacy technician applicants to have completed a certificate program or more than 240 hours of training. UEI College is accredited, and our program provides 760 hours of training.


What is the time requirement? If you are looking for quick training, this is an excellent career to get into. UEI College’s Pharmacy Technician program is built with a hybrid schedule. Students attend online lectures, complete assignments, and quizzes online, and then come to campus twice a week for in-person instruction and hands-on lab experiences.


What is the culture on campus? Are you craving a real college experience? At UEI College, we are proud of our ambassador program on each campus, where students become mentors to newer students and reach out through fun events on campus. They may also help with tutoring as needed. This helps build a community campus-wide. Within each classroom, students work with each other to practice skills, which also helps build relationships. Our experienced instructors love to share their passion with their students. They can often become excellent resources for students even after graduation.

Consider Enrolling in UEI College’s Pharmacy Technician Classes!

If you are ready to begin a career you can be proud of as a Pharmacy Technician, consider enrolling in UEI College’s Pharmacy Technician program. We are ready to help you with the support and resources you need to be successful.


You’ll find that support the moment you call. Our admissions team will take you on a full tour of our campus and help you understand the steps for enrolling. With on-going enrollment, you can enroll on the same day and begin classes on the next start date.


Our hybrid schedule allows for flexibility. Lectures and assignments are completed online. Students come to campus twice a week, either in the morning or evening, to attend in-person classes and practice the concepts learned online with hands-on experiences. Our students will have the chance to step into a   pharmacy technician lab and practice compounding medications, using pharmacy equipment, and even filing insurance claims.


The final step in the process is a 120-hour externship. We’ll help you find an externship in your area. Each student has the chance to work in a pharmacy before graduation to perfect their skills before hitting the job market.


UEI College’s Career Services department is experienced in helping students prepare for hiring. We’ll help update your resume and find jobs in your community. We also help students apply to become licensed as Pharmacy Technicians.


If having a stable career working in a pharmacy has always been on your mind, now is the time to build a career you can be proud of. Give us a call to tour UEI college and see all our program has to offer!