How to become a pharmacist

Career Clusters: Health Sciences

Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions. They also may conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, oversee the medications given to patients, and provide advice on healthy lifestyles.

What is this career like?

Pharmacists work in pharmacies, including those in drug, general merchandise, and grocery stores. They also work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Some of the things a pharmacist might do:

  • Fill prescriptions, verifying instructions from physicians on the proper amounts of medication to give to patients
  • Check whether prescriptions will interact negatively with other drugs that a patient is taking or any medical conditions the patient has
  • Instruct patients on how and when to take a prescribed medicine and inform them about potential side effects from taking the medicine
  • Give flu shots and, in most states, other vaccinations
  • Advise patients about general health topics, such as diet, exercise, and managing stress, and on other issues, such as what equipment or supplies would be best to treat a health problem
  • Complete insurance forms and work with insurance companies to ensure that patients get the medicines they need
  • Oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in training (interns)
  • Keep records and do other administrative tasks
  • Teach other healthcare practitioners about proper medication therapies for patients
  • Analytical skills: Pharmacists must provide safe medications efficiently. To do this, they must be able to evaluate a patient’s needs and the prescriber’s orders and have extensive knowledge of the effects and appropriate circumstances for giving out a specific medication.
  • Communication skills: Pharmacists frequently offer advice to patients. They might need to explain how to take medicine, for example, and what its side effects are. They also need to offer clear direction to pharmacy technicians and interns.
  • Computer skills: Pharmacists need computer skills in order to use any electronic health record (EHR) systems that their organization has adopted.
  • Detail oriented: Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the prescriptions they fill. They must be able to find the information that they need to make decisions about what medications are appropriate for each patient because improper use of medication can pose serious health risks.
  • Managerial skills: Pharmacists—particularly those who run a retail pharmacy—must have good managerial skills, including the ability to manage inventory and oversee a staff.

The average pay for pharmacists in the United States ranges from $87,420 to $159,410.

The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

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What is the career outlook?

Employment of pharmacists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Increased demand for prescription medications will lead to more demand for pharmaceutical services.

What education is required?

Prospective pharmacists are required to have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, a postgraduate professional degree.

Admissions requirements vary by program, however, all Pharm.D. programs require applicants to take postsecondary courses such as chemistry, biology, and physics. Most programs require at least 2 years of undergraduate study, although some require a bachelor’s degree. Most programs also require applicants to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).

A Pharm.D. program includes courses in chemistry, pharmacology, and medical ethics. Students also complete supervised work experiences, sometimes referred to as internships, in different settings such as hospitals and retail pharmacies.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Chemistry, Biology, or Physics.

Education and Training Requirements

As per Gay Dodson, R.Ph. Executive Director of the Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP) there are currently no formal educational requirements to become a pharmacy technician in the state, aside from possession of a high school diploma or GED. This is because most pharmacy technicians are trained on-the-job by senior pharmacy technicians or pharmacists.

For those who do choose to pursue training through a local community college or vocational school, the TSBP recommends enrolling in a program that is accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP). The TSBP designates any program as “board approved” that has such accreditation.

View a list of schools in Texas offering pharmacy technician programs.

Many training programs will include a clinical component during which students will have the opportunity to work in a pharmacy setting under supervision of Pharmacist. Students must be registered with TSBP as a pharmacy technician trainee before they may participate in such a clinical placement.

While a degree or certificate is not necessary to become a pharmacy technician in Texas, it can help you to obtain a supervisory position, along with increased pay.

How to become a Pharmacy Technician Trainee

A pharmacy technician trainee is an individual who is registered with the board as a pharmacy technician trainee and is authorized to participate in an externship program offered by a 2-year college or vocational school.  The requirements to become a trainee are as follows:

  • Possess high school diploma or GED
  • Active enrollment in a certificate or two-year Pharmacy Technician program
  • Obtain Pharmacy Technician Trainee status through the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. Trainee status is valid for two years during which time the student must take and pass the certification exam administered by the PTCB.
    • Complete an application with date of high school graduate/award of GED and social security number and program of study.
    • Have fingerprints taken
    • The name, address, and pharmacy license number of your clinical site
    • No felony convictions
    • No suspension, denial, revocation, or limitations on your registration or licensure by any State Board of Pharmacy;
    • No substance-abuse convictions, including pharmacy-related drugs. Any violations, including misdemeanors, must be reported to PTCB.
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How to become a Pharmacy Technician

  • Possess high school diploma or GED
  • Complete an application with date of high school graduate/award of GED and social security number
  • Have fingerprints taken
  • Pass certification exam administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Once you pass this exam you will designed a Certified Pharmacy technician (CPhT)
  • Become registered with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy after passing the PTCB exam
  • The name, address, and pharmacy license number of the pharmacy in which you plan to work, if known
  • No felony convictions
  • No suspension, denial, revocation, or limitations on your registration or licensure by any State Board of Pharmacy;
  • No substance-abuse convictions, including pharmacy-related drugs. Any violations, including misdemeanors, must be reported to PTCB.


Below are the median annual salaries for Pharmacy Technicians-Level 1 (Entry-level) in major metropolitan cities:

Corpus Christi $30, 163
Dallas $32,979
Fort Worth $32,690.
Houston $33,076
San Antonio $30,031

Data derived from

What makes for a successful Pharmacy Tech career?

There are three important components to a great career as a Pharmacy Technician:

  1. Having and developing the right skills
  2. Getting the right training, experience and certification
  3. Finding work in a setting that best suits you

Pharmacy Tech skills

Being attentive to detail is fundamental. Medication errors represent a significant cause of illness and even death. Good pharmacy technicians take great care in what they do.

  1. Listening and customer-service skills

A good professional needs to pay close attention to the instructions of the pharmacist and other health professionals when taking prescription orders. They must also clearly understand the needs of the customer, and be able to decide when to refer a customer to the pharmacist or to require clarification from the prescribing doctor.

A Pharmacy Tech requires an adequate level of math skills, which are employed in counting pills, weighing and measuring medicines and understanding the formulas used in compounding medicines.

Training, experience and certification

Most pharmacy technicians gain on-the-job training in a retail environment. The better paid jobs, where the pharmacy tech is delegated greater responsibility, will require that you have more on-the-job experience, formal training from an accredited program and certification.

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Work Settings

Different settings will appeal to different people. If you prefer working directly with the customer, then a retail job may be perfect for you. However, retail environments may also require more weekend and night work.

Salaries for hospital jobs tend to be around 20% higher than retail jobs, and although work in antisocial hours may be required, there are opportunities for a more balanced timetable. Also, the task of preparing medications may be more interesting in a hospital environment, as there is more variety.

How to find a Pharmacy Technician Program Near Me?

Our guide provides the most detailed information you’ll find anywhere online. We’ve combined our own research with information on programs from the US Department of Education and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. For each state there is salary information for each metropolitan district, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As explained further in the disclaimer page, information is correct, to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication, and is updated frequently. Nonetheless, mistakes are sometimes made and tuition costs and accreditation status changes. Please confirm all information directly with the school before making your decision.

¿Prefieres leer en español? Encuentra una escuela de técnico en farmacia aquí.

9) Understand How the Human Body Responds to Medication

Understand How the Human Body Responds to Medication

In pharmacy tech training programs, students study the effects that certain types of drugs, and dosages have on the human body. In order to properly prepare and dispense medications, they’ll have to understand what these substances do. If a mistake is made by a pharmacist, pharmacy techs are the last line of defense – and can even save a life in doing so.

15) Stable, Growing Job Market

Relax, Pharmacy Tech, Gowing Job Market

An excellent reason to become a pharmacy tech is the expansion of job growth. Owing much to the aging Baby Boomer generation, the projected job growth rate for all allied healthcare careers is higher than any other field in the United States.

Pharmacy tech jobs are expected to increase by 9% from 2014 to 2024. Therefore, there are – and will be – an large number of positions available.

19) Working Hours Are Flexible  

Depending on whether or not a pharmacy is open 24 hours per day, a pharmacy tech’s schedule can range from mornings to third shift to weekends. Usually, a standard schedule will be given by store management. Pharmacy technicians can be part-time or full-time, depending on the needs of the location.

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