How to Transition From Pharmacy Tech to Pharmacist?

pharmacy tech to pharmacist

Pharmacy is a wide field. Apart from so many options available in the pharmacy, pharmacy tech is one of them. After becoming a pharmacist technician, we will work with pharmacists. The main job of pharmacy technicians is to help pharmacists dispense prescribed medications to customers or health professionals. Basically, pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies, general stores, and hospitals, together with pharmacists.

Now, let’s understand what do pharmacists do?

Pharmacists are responsible for various tasks. The position of a pharmacist is superior to pharmacy tech. Their regular jobs include – ensuring the quality of medications supplied to the patients, making sure the supplied medicines are within the law, making sure the prescribed medications are suitable for the patients, and advising the patients are the prescribed medications. Now, if you are a pharmacy technician, you might be interested in becoming a pharmacist, because after becoming a pharmacist, you get so many benefits in terms of salary and in terms of position. Let’s take a look at can you become a pharmacist after being a pharmacy tech?

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Can You Become A Pharmacist After Being A Pharmacy Tech?

As we know, pharmacy technicians and pharmacists work next to each other in hospitals, pharmacies, and clinics, but education qualifications, salary, and licensing requirements for both are very different. The answer to the question of whether you become a pharmacist after being a pharmacy tech is YES. If you are a pharmacy technician who wants to become a certified and licensed pharmacist, you need to meet all the criteria.

First of all, as a pharmacy tech, you might have completed minimum education, then you must need to complete the six to seven years of school. You need to complete the coursework study at pharmacy school and achieve the PharmD degree in order to be eligible to apply for the licensure examination.  You will need to complete two to four years of the undergraduate program before entering into the PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) program.

Depending upon the pharmacy school you are enrolling in, the criteria will be different. Some pharmacy schools offer 0-6 programs; some offer 3+3 programs, while other schools offer 2+4 pharmacy programs. Hence, you need to make sure to complete all the educational requirements in order to eligible to become a pharmacist.

Completing the education requirements is not enough to become a pharmacist from a pharmacy tech. After fulfilling the educational requirements, the next crucial thing comes in is meeting the licensure requirements. In order for you to become a certified and licensed pharmacist, it is essential to go through the pharmacy licensure examination. For figuring out whether the pharmacist is ideal for being licensed, the NAPLEX is conducted. NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) is a standard exam created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).

The exam is focused on helping each state boards of pharmacy to check the competency and knowledge of each individual. The exam helps to know whether a particular individual is ideal for the pharmacy licensure or not. It is a computer-based examination, which students need to take online.  There is also a fee is set for taking the NAPLEX.

In short, you can become a pharmacist after being a pharmacy tech. The condition is you need to fulfill all the requirements in terms of education, licensing, etc. Once you go through the correct process and get the licensure, you become a licensed pharmacist.

What is the Difference Between Pharmacy Technician & Pharmacist?

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians work together in pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals. They work together to deliver medications, advising, and assisting patients. Both work together and their day to day tasks are a bit similar. But, when it comes to eligibility to become a pharmacy technician and pharmacist, both have different sets of criteria. Now, let’s take a look at major differences between pharmacy technicians and pharmacists:

Level of Education

The first and major difference between a pharmacist and a pharmacy technician is the education achieved by them. To become a pharmacy technician, you don’t need to go through high-level education and licensure exam. But, in order to become a pharmacist, you need to complete the PharmD program and pass the licensure (NAPLEX) exam.


The duties of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists are very similar. Both of them work very closely. A pharmacist technician may accept the prescription from the patient, but it is important for the pharmacist to review and approve that before it is filled. The pharmacist is responsible for everything that is happening in the pharmacy because he/she has the higher authority and responsibilities than technicians.


The salary is another major difference between pharmacy technician job position and pharmacist job position. There’s a huge difference in the salary of both. The median salary of a pharmacy technician is $30,920 a year, while the median salary of a pharmacist is $122,230 a year.


Going through adequate training is very important in order to become a pharmacy technician. It includes how to carry out tasks and provide patient care. Technicians do receive on the job training, but getting prior training ensures the smoothness of work. Just like to become a technician you need to go through minimal education requirements and training, to become a pharmacist, you need to complete a pre-pharmacy program, four years of a university degree, internship, residency (in some cases), and licensure exam.

Should I Become A Pharmacy Technician Before A Pharmacist?

The pharmacist is the career option in which you can make a huge amount of money. If your goal of becoming a pharmacist is final, then you might be confused about whether you should become a pharmacy technician before becoming a pharmacist or not.

Whether you should become a pharmacy tech before a pharmacist is subjective. Though the salary of a pharmacy technician is low, technicians and pharmacists have very similar tasks. Technicians help pharmacists to dispense medication to customers and health professionals. As a pharmacy tech, you may work in a general store, pharmacy, hospital, or general merchandise. The best thing about becoming a pharmacy technician is you don’t need to get high-level education or go through licensure examination. It means you can become a pharmacy tech with minimum educational requirements.

Now, for those whose ultimate goal is to become a pharmacist, they are confused about whether they should get a technician job or directly become a pharmacist. Although it is solely based on you whether you become a technician first & then become a pharmacist or directly become a pharmacist, but it is a good idea to become a pharmacy technician first and then becoming a pharmacist. The reason is by becoming a technician, you learn so many things and get great hands-on experience in the field of pharmacy.

The best thing about the pharmacy technician job position is you can get into this with minimal formal education. It also does not requires you to pass the licensure exam. If you want to become a pharmacy tech, all you need is a high school diploma degree. The average salary of a technician is around $32,700. Though it is less as compared to the pharmacist position, in the tech position, you get great work experience, and you also get to know about how actually it works practically. In short, it is a good idea to become a pharmacy technician before a pharmacist.

Pharmacist Technician To Pharmacist Program

If you are a pharmacy technician and planning to become a pharmacist, then you need to fulfill all the criteria required to become a pharmacist. You need to understand what are the steps you have to take to become a pharmacist from the pharmacist technician. Working as a pharmacy technician enhances the knowledge and understanding of the pharmacy industry.

The major benefit of becoming a pharmacist after working as a pharmacy technician is you already have a great understanding and practical knowledge than the individual who becomes the pharmacist without working as a technician. By becoming a technician, you have a more practical understanding of the pharmacy.

As a pharmacy technician, you have got a great understanding and knowledge; it doesn’t mean you would be able to become a pharmacist earlier as compared to other individuals. The pathway of becoming a pharmacist will be the same for you as well.

In order to become a pharmacist, first of all, you need to complete high school. After the completion of high school, you need to go through the pharmacy undergraduate program. After you complete the undergraduate program, the next step is to take PCAT. Now, what is PCAT? It is the Pharmacy College Admission Test. The scores achieved in the PCAT examination will be used to determine your acceptance into the pharmacy school.

After you pass the PCAT and get into your desired pharmacy school, you will spend your life’s four to five years learning about the industry. After you successfully complete the pharmacy school, then you will have to take the board exam and law exam, depending upon your state. To work as a pharmacist, you will need to pass the license examination and get the licensure. The pharmacy licensure examination in the United States is NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination). After you will complete your pharmacy school and pass the NAPLEX, you will be a licensed pharmacist.

So, this is how you can become a licensed pharmacist from the pharmacist technician job position. After becoming a pharmacist, you will start making more money and will have increased duties & responsibilities.

Pharmacy Technician Career Advancement

If you are working as a pharmacy technician, you might be finding an advancement in your career. Pharmacy technicians make lower money, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot find advancement in their careers. Pharmacy is a continuously growing field, and in such a growing field, you can improve your income potential and skillset.

Becoming a pharmacist is the best way to advance your career as a pharmacy technician. Becoming a pharmacist is not only the way, but there are also many other options too. Following are some of the ways to advance your career as a pharmacy technician:


The first and best career advancement option for a pharmacy technician is becoming a pharmacist. It is the most lucrative career option in the field of pharmacy. A pharmacist may work in a retail store, hospital, or in a drug development company. The main task of a pharmacist is to ensure the medication taken by the patients are safe.

Medical Laboratory Technician

Becoming a medical laboratory technician is also a good way to advance your career as a technician. By becoming a medical laboratory technician, you would be diagnosing the illness. In order to become a medical laboratory technician, you need to complete the associate’s degree program in clinical laboratory science. Depending on your state requirements, you may require licensure.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

They are highly specialized health care professionals who prepare and administer radiopharmaceuticals to patients. By becoming a Nuclear Medicine Technologist, you are most likely to work in hospitals. To become the one, you need to get an associate’s degree from an accredited nuclear medicine technology program.

Regulatory Affairs Specialist

Regulatory Affairs Specialists have in-depth knowledge about laws concerning government approval for new medications or any other medical products. To become an entry-level Regulatory Affairs Specialist, you need to get a bachelor’s degree with an undergraduate course in science and in business.

So, these are the four best paths for career advancement in pharmacy technician. By achieving any of these positions, you will earn more money and a better position than the pharmacy technician.

What States Pay The Most For Pharmacy Technicians?

Pharmacy technician is the career option in which you learn so much about the pharmaceutical industry. If your main motive is to become a pharmacist, then it is a good idea to become a pharmacy technician first and then become a pharmacist. By doing the technician job, you get to learn so many things practically.

As you know, the salary criteria for the pharmacy technician differ from one state to another; it is advisable to know the states that have high average technicians’ salaries. Here are high-paying cities for pharmacy technicians:


Alaska is on the number one position for the list of best-paying states for pharmacy technicians. The highest mean salary of pharmacy technicians at Alaska is $43,150, which makes it stand to the number one position.


California is another high-paying state for pharmacy technicians. At California, the highest mean salary of pharmacy technicians is $42,610.


Washington is the third best-paying state of the United States for pharmacy technicians. The highest mean salary of pharmacy technicians at Washington is $42,470.


If Oregon is near to your hometown, then you may consider doing a pharmacy tech job there. The highest mean salary of pharmacy technicians at Oregon is $40,920.

District of Columbia

District of Columbia is another great location where you can do your pharmacy technician job. The highest mean salary of pharmacy technicians at the District of Columbia is $39,980.

These are the five best states where technicians are paid well. Getting a pharmacist technician job in any of these states provides you a great salary and a better experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmacy Technician vs Pharmacist

To become a pharmacist, you need to get proper experience, education, licensure, and skills. You cannot become a pharmacist without having proper education qualifications. Although pharmacists and pharmacy technicians work together closely, both of them do not have the same salary and authority.

Understanding the differences between a pharmacy technician and pharmacist job position is very crucial. It will give you an idea about what tasks you have to perform as a pharmacist or pharmacist technician.

Pharmacy Technician

A pharmacy technician is also responsible for the technical aspects of the prescription. He/She is allowed to independently receive the prescription, prepare the drug, and to the final check. Before the pharmacy technician handles the medication to the patients, the pharmacist makes sure that whether it is appropriate or not. The pharmacist provides proper counseling on how to use the prescribed medication.

A pharmacy technician works under the supervision of a pharmacist. The main duties of a technician include supplying medicines to patients, assembling medicines for prescriptions, and provide information to patients. Pharmacy technicians may work in community pharmacies, retail pharmacies, hospitals, or primary care organizations.

To become a pharmacy technician, you need to find the right program and successfully complete that. The education required to become a pharmacist technician is at least a high school diploma or equivalent. The annual median salary you may expect after joining the technician position is $32,700.


Pharmacy is really a wide field. After entering into this field, you will find that you have so many career options available. Among so many career options in the pharmaceutical industry, the pharmacist is the most popular and lucrative one. Pharmacists are the medication experts who have great knowledge of medications for helping patients.

After becoming a pharmacist, you will have so many jobs and duties. It includes dispensing medications, assuring the safety, monitoring patients’ health, collaborating with nurses & physicians, and much more. The pharmacists work in pharmacies, drug, general merchandise, hospitals, healthcare facilities, and grocery stores.

In order to become a pharmacist, you need to have great knowledge, skills, required qualifications, and a pharmacist license. You must have a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree and must have passed the NAPLEX licensure examination. The requirements may vary from one state to another. The annual median salary you may expect after becoming a  pharmacist is $126,120.

So here, we have explained the educational requirements, duties, responsibilities, expected salary, certification, and licensure requirements of pharmacists and pharmacist technicians. All these points are enough to understand the differences between both.

Certified Technician Salary

When you are in the entry-level position of your pharmacy technician job, you should expect to earn huge money. There are many states that allow technicians to work without any prior experience or training in the field. After joining the job without any prior experience or training, you get trained by the pharmacist. When you have just completed a high school diploma and interested in the pharmacy field, getting started by joining a tech job allows you to get trained from highly-professional and experienced healthcare professionals like a pharmacist.

Here we will discuss all certified pharmacy technicians. Becoming a certified pharmacy technician is the best way to get an instant pay raise. If you want to increase your pay as a pharmacy technician, then it is a good idea to become a certified technician. In order to become a certified technician, you need to take the standardized test – The ExCPT exam.

A certified pharmacist technician can expect to earn $10 to $16 per hour. This depends on the experience, education, skills, and the type of employer. It varies depending on whether you are doing the job at a privately owned pharmacy, retail chain, or any other.

After you gain enough experience as a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPHT) by gaining at least five years of experience, you get promoted to Lead Technician status, and you start getting good pay. As a Lead pharmacy technician, you can expect to earn between $14 and $18 per hour.

Final Thoughts

Here we have shared a detailed guide on how to transition from pharmacy tech to pharmacist. As we have seen, becoming a pharmacy tech does not require any high-level education or licensure, while for becoming a pharmacist, one needs to pass the educational criteria and get the licensure.

If you are already a technician, you may be finding a way to advance your career as a pharmacy technician. There are different paths for career advancement, but the best and lucrative path is becoming a pharmacist. After becoming a pharmacist, you start earning great pay. The average median salary of a pharmacist is around $126,120. To help you with the transition, here we have shared a complete guide on how you can become a pharmacist.


Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

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