How to Become a Pharmacy Technician in California
Pharmacy tech jobs are an excellent option for CA residents looking to start their journey into the healthcare field.
Aspiring pharmacy technicians in CA can learn the necessary skills for this career through on-the-job training or an accredited educational course.
From there, they can register with the State Board of Pharmacy and begin applying for pharmacy technician jobs in California.
Education & Training
Obtaining the necessary education to qualify for pharmacy tech jobs is the first step for those wondering how to become a pharmacy technician in California.
Additional Learning Methods
Once you achieve this step, you can decide to round out your education through one of the following methods:
- Receiving on-the-job training at a local pharmacy or chain
- Completing an accredited certificate or degree program at a California trade school or community college
On-the-Job Pharmacy Tech Training
Many aspiring pharmacy technicians in CA learn the tools of the trade through on-the-job training at a pharmacy. A licensed pharmacist supervises these trainees, ensuring they follow company protocols and adhere to state and federal pharmacy regulations.
Training often focuses on the customer services aspects of the job, so your supervisors may primarily teach you:
- What types of prescription and over-the-counter medications the pharmacy carries
- The filing system for medications and customer records
- How to operate cash registers and process customers’ payments and insurance information
- Methods for receiving and processing prescriptions
- How to use the pharmacy’s various measurement and weighing tools for medications
California Pharmacy Tech School
While on-the-job training teaches you skills that apply to a particular store, going to pharmacy tech school can prepare you for various pharmacy technician jobs in California. As a result, many people hoping to work in hospital, nursing facility, and urgent care center pharmacies enroll in pharmacy technician programs at accredited institutions.
Pharmacy technician schools in California typically teach classes like:
- Pharmacy Terminology
- Drug Classifications
- Computerized Drug Delivery Systems
- Pharmaceutical Mathematics
- Communication and Customer Service
- Institutional and Community Pharmacy Practices
- Pharmacy Law
Schools often have a practicum component as well, allowing students to gain hands-on experience through internshiops at local pharmacies.
How Long is Pharmacy Tech School in California?
While CA pharmacy technician courses vary in length, you can usually complete your training within a few months. Some certificate programs take about six months to complete, though many students earn their diplomas in nine months. Two-year associate’s degree programs are also available for students hoping to lay the groundwork for an eventual pharmacist career.
Pharmacy Tech School Costs
A pharmacy tech certificate course in California might cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000, depending on where you enroll. Tuition rates for some diploma programs range from $10,000 to about $16,000, while the cost to complete an associate’s degree program may be closer to $35,000 at some schools.
Some pharmacies offer tuition assistance for students who work as pharmacy tech trainees while completing their educational programs. Check your employee benefits package to determine whether your employer offers this perk.
California Pharmacy Technician Requirements
Once you complete your training program, you’ll need to register with the State Board of Pharmacy before you can become an official pharmacy technician in CA.
To obtain your license, you’ll need to submit the following:
- Proof of identification, such as a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
- A copy of your official transcripts certifying your graduation from a high school or GED program
- A signed Affidavit of Completed Coursework or Graduation form for your pharmacy tech certificate or degree program OR:
- A sealed, original Self Queary report for the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB)
- Fingerprints for a Live Scan criminal background check
- A passport-style photo taken within the last 60 days
- A completed application for a pharmacy technician license
- Payment of the required $195 application fee
It takes about 45 days for the Board to process applications for pharmacy technicians in CA. You can use the “Verify a License” tool on the Board of Pharmacy website to check the status of your application. Successful applicants usually receive their physical licenses in the mail after four to six weeks.
Pharmacy Technician Salaries in CA
Although the average pharmacy technician salary in California is about $51,789 per year, your annual earnings may differ slightly depending on where you live. Check out the list below to discover the typical salaries for pharmacy techs in different California cities:
- Fresno $48,743
- Los Angeles $50,050
- Sacramento $53,374
- Anaheim $49,081
- San Diego $50,722
- Oakland $63,021
- San Francisco $59,969
Pharmacy technician jobs in California require intense focus, attention to detail, and physical stamina. In addition to lifting heavy boxes of medication and keeping the pharmacy neat and organized, pharmacy technicians in CA are responsible for:
- Receiving digital and hand-written prescription orders from healthcare professionals
- Filling prescriptions by measuring, weighing, counting, and pouring medications
- Checking each order for accuracy
- Packaging and labeling medications in the proper containers
- Stocking shelves and maintaining inventory for the pharmacy
- Accepting payments and processing insurance claims for customers
- Processing online orders and answering phone calls
- Entering data to update each customer’s purchase history information
- Referring customers to the pharmacist to discuss questions about their various conditions and medications
- Assisting customers on the sales floor and recommending over-the-counter medications
- Setting up displays and advertising sales events around the store
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for pharmacy techs in the U.S. should increase by about five percent over the next ten years. As more employees make the transition from tech to licensed pharmacist, more pharmacy technician jobs in California are likely to become available.