Your Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Pharmacy Technician in California

California Pharmacy Technician Requirements

California Pharmacy Technician Requirements

Are you ready to embark on a rewarding career as a pharmacy technician in the Golden State? This guide will provide you with a step-by-step roadmap, outlining everything you need to know to get certified and start working in this dynamic healthcare field in California. Please note that it’s essential to always refer to the official California State Board of Pharmacy website ( for the most current and accurate regulations. This post is informational only and is not intended as legal or professional advice.

Work Environments for Pharmacy Technicians in California

Pharmacy technicians in California work in a variety of dynamic and essential healthcare settings. Here’s a look at some of the common places you might find yourself working:

  • Retail Pharmacies: Receive and process prescriptions, interact with customers, and work with insurance companies.
  • Hospitals: Prepare and deliver medications to patients within hospitals, potentially specializing in areas like IV compounding or chemotherapy preparation.
  • Long-Term Care Facilities: Assist in the preparation and distribution of medications for residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
  • Specialty Pharmacies: Assist in dispensing and preparing complex medications for specific disease states.
  • Mail-Order Pharmacies: Fill prescriptions and ship them directly to patients.

In all of these settings, there may be an opportunity to perform more advanced functions and support pharmacists in their care of patients.

Step 1: Understanding the Requirements

To practice as a pharmacy technician in California, you must meet the following criteria set by the California State Board of Pharmacy:

  • Age: Not defined by pharmacy law rules. However, as noted below, a high school diploma or equivalent is required.
  • Basic Education: The board requires applicants to be a high school graduate or possess similar credentials. These options include:
    • Foreign secondary school diploma, certificate, or notarized transcripts.
    • General Education Development (GED) transcripts, HiSET test transcripts, or TASC transcripts.
    • Pass the California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE), or provide an official transcript of equivalent test results from an out-of-state general educational development certificate program.
  • Criminal Background: California requires pharmacy technician applicants to complete the fingerprint scanning through the Live Scan service.
  • Pharmacy Technician Education/Training: Applicants must meet pharmacy technician specific education or training requirements through one of the following options:
    • Obtain an Associate’s Degree in Pharmacy Technology, graduate from an ACPE accredited school of pharmacy, or complete another state approved or ASHP accredited training program (all must include live training).
    • Obtain national certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
    • Complete pharmacy technician training within a branch of the federal armed services.
  • Certification: As described above, Certified Pharmacy Technicians automatically meet California’s pharmacy technician specific training requirement. Certification is not required for those that have completed one of the other training options, but does bring benefits for recognition and career advancement.

Step 2: Choosing a Path to Certification

This step would be applicable to individuals who are pursuing the certification pathway described above. There are two primary routes to get certified as a pharmacy technician in California:

  • Option 1: PTCB Certification
  • Option 2: ExCPT Certification
    • Enroll in a formal pharmacy technician training program OR obtain 1 year of work experience as a pharmacy technician trainee with at least 1200 hours of supervised pharmacy related work.
    • Pass the ExCPT exam.

Step 3: Applying for Your California Pharmacy Technician Registration

Once you’ve obtained your certification or completed the required training, you’re ready to register with the California State Board of Pharmacy. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the California State Board of Pharmacy website: Go to and review the Pharmacy Technician Application and Instructions. There is a tutorial video available describing the process.
  2. Complete the application: The application includes your personal information, education, certification details, and responses to questions about disciplinary actions or criminal history.
  3. Pay the application fee: The current application fee is listed on the California State Board of Pharmacy website, and is $195 at the time this post is written.
  4. Submit supporting documentation: This includes:
    • Affadavit of Training or Proof of certification (PTCB or ExCPT)
    • Fingerprint card and Livescan form (instructions are provided in the application)
    • Any other documents required by the Board based on your individual circumstances.

Important Note: The Board will review your application carefully and might ask for additional information if needed. Be prepared to provide any details to facilitate a smooth process.

Step 4: Renewing Your Registration

California pharmacy technician registrations expire every two years. To maintain your registration in good standing, you must renew before the expiration date. Here’s the process:

  • Renewal Cycle: You’ll need to renew your registration before the last day of the expiration month, every two years. Find your specific expiration date on your registration certificate.
  • Continuing Education (CE): California pharmacy technicians are currently mandated to complete at least one hour of Board-approved coursework on cultural competency and implicit bias training during your first renewal period. Check the Board’s website for approved courses.

Important Notes:

  • You will receive a renewal notice from the Board approximately 60 days before your registration expires.
  • If you fail to renew on time, your registration will lapse. The Board provides instructions on how to reinstate a lapsed registration on its website.

Additional Tips for Success

  • Network with Pharmacy Professionals: Build connections within the California pharmacy field by attending industry events, joining professional associations, or reaching out to pharmacists or technicians in your area.
  • Develop Strong Communication Skills: Pharmacy technicians interact extensively with patients, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. Practice clear communication, active listening, and empathy to excel in this role.
  • Stay Current: Keep up with updates in California pharmacy regulations, best practices, and new therapies by taking additional CE courses (even if not mandated), subscribing to industry publications, or attending conferences.
  • Pursue Certification: Even if you elect to meet the California Pharmacy Technician Training requirement through completion of a Board-approved training program, attaining national certification as a pharmacy technician will improve your resume and help advance the pharmacy profession.


Becoming a pharmacy technician in California is an achievable goal with dedication and the right guidance. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to launching a fulfilling career in this essential healthcare role within the Golden State.


  • How long does it take to become a pharmacy technician in California? The timeline varies depending on your certification path and the speed at which you complete the requirements. In some cases, you can complete the process within a few months.
  • What is the average salary for a pharmacy technician in California? Average salary figures vary by location within California. Research resources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) or salary comparison websites for the most up-to-date information on your specific area. As of May 2023, the BLS reported a mean hourly wage of $26.79 for pharmacy technicians in the state.
  • Where can I find more information about pharmacy technician careers in California? Here are some helpful resources:

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  1. I would like to clarify if I’m able to satisfy requirements for CA if I take your course?
    Is your course completely online?
    “Taking our course qualifies you to take the PTCE through the PTCB, without the otherwise 500-hours of technician experience that would be required.”

    Would the PTCB be sufficient

    1. Hi Katrina,
      California requires either completion of a state approved training program or national certification in order to apply for registration as a Pharmacy Technician. Taking our course and passing the PTCE will meet this requirement.
      Here is the California Board of Pharmacy Website that describes this: California BOP website

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