How Much Does Pharmacy Technician School Cost?

Last Updated on February 6, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Pharmacy is a well-paid field and it features some very saught for jobs. You should start prepping well ahead of time if you’re thinking of completing a school in this area.

Learning all drug names, usages, and dosages isn’t as easy as you might think, so if you don’t want to take that test too many times, you should really start reading well in advance.

Deciding to become a pharmacy technician is an exciting first step toward launching a career in the high-demand healthcare industry. While the role offers competitive salaries, job stability, and ample opportunities for advancement, pursuing the proper education and training requires an investment.

How Much Does Pharmacy Technician School Cost?

The total price tag for pharmacy technician education ranges widely, from around $500 for shorter online courses to over $16,000 for more robust classroom programs. Tuition expenses mainly depend on:

  • Type of institution – Community colleges and vocational schools offer the most affordable options for in-person learning. Online courses are generally the least expensive.
  • Program length – Short certificate programs of 3-6 months have lower tuition than 1-2 year associate’s degree tracks.
  • Materials and resources – Textbooks, lab fees, exam fees, and registration costs all factor into the total cost.

For example, the 10-month pharmacy technician diploma program at Concorde Career Institute in Florida costs approximately $16,000 including textbooks and other fees. Comparatively, an accredited online course from CareerStep with virtual labs costs $1,999. Choosing the most economical program that aligns with your learning preferences is key.

Community Colleges vs Vocational Schools vs Online Programs

Community colleges tend to offer the most budget-friendly classroom-based pharmacy tech programs, with prices averaging $2,000-$4,000. Lab SEC, supplies, and textbooks are included in tuition at many 2-year colleges.

Vocational and trade schools provide accelerated pharmacy technician training, often lasting 6-12 months. Tuition ranges from $5,000-$15,000 based on location and amenities. Some vocational programs assist with job placement.

Online courses allow self-paced learning at the lowest overall cost. Quality online programs cost $500-$2,000, excluding textbooks and exam fees. Virtual classrooms and labs provide flexibility for remote students.

Example Pharmacy Tech School Tuition Rates

Why Invest in Formal Pharmacy Technician Education?

While on-the-job training is possible for some pharmacy tech roles, employers strongly prefer candidates with formal education. Programs teach key competencies like pharmaceutical calculations, medical terminology, pharmacy law, pharmacology, and lab procedures. Students gain hands-on practice in mock pharmacy labs.

Earning national certification after graduation also boosts your reputation and job prospects. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offer accredited certification exams.

In short, the initial financial investment in a quality pharmacy technician program pays dividends through more job opportunities, higher salaries, and a lasting career in healthcare.

What Factors Influence the Overall Cost?

Several key considerations impact the total expense of pharmacy tech education:

Program Accreditation – Opt for an accredited program that meets professional standards and qualifies graduates for certification exams. Accredited options are more expansive but lead to better career outcomes.

Duration – Longer certificate and degree programs ranging from 12-24 months have higher tuition fees but provide robust training. Accelerated 6-month tracks minimize costs but cover less material.

Textbooks and Supplies – Textbooks, lab manuals, scrubs, registration fees, and other required materials may cost $500+ extra per semester. Ask schools for complete estimates.

Seeking Out Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financing pharmacy technician education is made easier through financial assistance programs:

  • Federal Student Aid – FAFSA loans, grants, and work-study programs can be used at many accredited institutions.
  • Scholarships – Professional organizations, colleges, and private companies offer pharmacy tech scholarships for qualifying students.
  • Employer tuition programs – Some pharmacies provide employee education benefits or tuition reimbursement.
  • Payment plans – Schools often offer monthly payment plan options that split up tuition fees.

Thoroughly researching available financial aid and scholarships is advised to lower out-of-pocket training costs.

The Value of Investing in Quality Pharmacy Tech Education

While the tuition fees may seem high at first glance, pursuing the right training program pays off through:

Broad Career Opportunities

Medications From Pharmacy TechPharmacy techs work in hospitals, drug stores, grocery stores, mail-order pharmacies, correctional facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and more. Formal education makes you a strong applicant across settings.

Competitive Salaries

Certified pharmacy technicians earn a national average salary of $36,450 per year or $17.53 per hour, according to the BLS. Income potential rises with experience and expanded responsibilities.

Job Stability

Healthcare support roles like pharmacy techs are projected to grow 4% over the next decade, adding 23,700 new jobs by 2031. Demand remains strong.

Overall, the investment in pharmacy technician training is well worth the costs over the long run.

You might also like our articles about the cost of Chiropractor School, Ultrasound Technician School, and Esthetician School.

Accounting for Exam and Certification Costs

After completing an accredited program, graduates can expect to spend:

  • $129+ – Application fees to take the PTCB or ExCPT certification exams
  • $55+ – Annual fees to maintain active PTCB or NHA certification credentials

Recertification every 2 years also involves paying for continuing education courses or retaking certification exams. These expenses ensure you meet ongoing competency standards as a pharmacy technician.

Tips for Picking the Best Pharmacy Technician Program

  • Look for accredited programs that prepare you for certification exams.
  • Compare curricula to find robust training in key areas like calculations, pharmacology, and pharmacy automation.
  • Consider programs with externships for real-world experience.
  • Ask about career services and job placement rates after graduation.
  • Evaluate costs, formats, and locations that fit your learning needs and budget.
  • Confirm the program length works with your schedule.


Launching a career as a pharmacy technician requires dedication, but the demand for skilled healthcare professionals makes the investment worthwhile. While tuition and fees vary, numerous affordable training options exist, along with financial aid programs to assist students.

Once you complete an accredited education and earn national certification, doors open to ample job opportunities with competitive wages and advancement potential.

Take the time to understand program costs fully, choose a quality training provider that fits your needs and budget, and get started on the path to an exciting and stable pharmacy technician career.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the pharmacy tech test hard?

The pharmacy technician certification exams offered through PTCB and NHA require focused preparation but are very achievable for graduates of quality training programs. Key tips to pass pharmacy tech exams:

  • Study using prep books, practice tests, and flashcards. Focus on math calculations, medications, and regulations.
  • Master topics covered on the exam blueprint like pharmacy law and procedures.
  • Take practice tests frequently to become familiar with the format and pace needed.
  • Get plenty of rest before exam day and eat a healthy meal.
  • Read each question carefully and thoroughly on test day. Avoid rushing.

With diligent studying and practice, the national certification exams are challenging but manageable for most pharmacy technician trainees. Proper education ensures you have the knowledge needed to earn this important qualification.

What pharmacy pays techs the most?

Hospital and health-system pharmacies tend to offer the highest hourly wages for certified pharmacy technicians according to recent salary data:

  • Hospital Outpatient Pharmacies – Average of $18 per hour
  • Hospital Inpatient Pharmacies – Average of $17 per hour

Retail pharmacies at chain stores have lower average wages around $15 per hour. Independent community pharmacies offer competitive pay to retain talent.

To maximize earnings as a pharmacy tech, pursue opportunities with hospitals, health systems, and specialized mail-order or compounding pharmacies. Obtaining advanced certifications to take on supervisory roles also boosts pay potential significantly.

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