Your Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Pharmacy Technician in Iowa

Iowa pharmacy technician license

Iowa Pharmacy Technician Requirements

Are you a detail-oriented individual with a passion for healthcare? A career as a pharmacy technician in Iowa might be the perfect path for you. Pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in the healthcare system, working alongside pharmacists to ensure patients receive their medications accurately and safely.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through every step of becoming a certified pharmacy technician in Iowa. We’ll cover everything from educational requirements and national certification exams to the registration process and maintaining your credentials. Whether you’re just starting or looking to advance your career, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and resources you need to thrive as a pharmacy technician in the Hawkeye State. Remember to check the Iowa Board of Pharmacy’s website ( for the most up-to-date information on regulations and requirements.

Work Environments for Pharmacy Technicians in Iowa

As a pharmacy technician in Iowa, you’ll find diverse and engaging work environments catering to different interests and career goals. Each setting offers unique opportunities to apply your skills and contribute to patient care:

Retail Pharmacies: Major chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Hy-Vee, along with independent pharmacies across Iowa, employ pharmacy technicians to interact directly with patients. Your responsibilities will include filling prescriptions, processing insurance claims, managing inventory, and providing excellent customer service.

Hospital Pharmacies: In hospitals like the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics or MercyOne, you’ll be part of a dynamic healthcare team, preparing and dispensing medications for inpatients and outpatients. This could involve sterile compounding, IV preparation, and working with automated dispensing systems.

Long-Term Care Facilities: Nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the state, such as those operated by Life Care Services or WesleyLife, rely on pharmacy technicians to ensure residents receive their medications accurately and on time. You’ll play a vital role in managing medication orders, preparing and delivering medications, and monitoring residents’ responses.

Mail-Order Pharmacies: Companies like Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield or Magellan Rx Management employ pharmacy technicians to fill and ship large volumes of prescriptions to patients throughout Iowa and beyond. This fast-paced environment involves working with sophisticated technology and handling high-volume orders efficiently.

Specialty Pharmacies: These pharmacies focus on specific disease states or medication types, such as oncology, compounding, or nuclear pharmacy. As a technician in a specialty pharmacy, you may handle specialized medications, work with unique equipment, and gain expertise in a specific therapeutic area.

Step 1: Understand Iowa Pharmacy Technician License Requirements

Iowa offers two types of pharmacy technician registrations, each with distinct requirements and roles:

1. Pharmacy Technician Trainee:

  • Who it’s for: Individuals who are in the process of acquiring national certification and wish to work in a pharmacy as part of a training program.
  • Requirements:
    • No disqualifying criminal history.
  • Registration: Must register with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy before starting work.
  • Duration: Valid for 12 months, during which you must complete your national certification.
  • Renewal: Can be renewed in exceptional circumstances if unable to complete certification within 12 months.

2. Certified Pharmacy Technician:

  • Who it’s for: Individuals who have already obtained national certification.
  • Requirements: Current national certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
  • Registration: Must register with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy.
  • Duration: Registration expires when your national certification expires.
  • Renewal: Must be renewed before the expiration of your national certification. Late renewal fees and reinstatement processes apply if not renewed on time.

Which Path to Choose?

Your choice depends on whether you already have national certification or are still working towards it. If you are new to the field, you will likely start as a pharmacy technician trainee and then upgrade to a certified pharmacy technician once you pass the certification exam.

Step 2: Obtaining National Pharmacy Technician Certification

In Iowa, obtaining national certification is a prerequisite to attain the Certified Pharmacy Technician registration status. This is the preferred registration for employers, as it demonstrates competency in the knowledge required of a certified pharmacy technician. It is a great way to enhance your earning potential, advance your career, and demonstrate your commitment to the profession.

Option 1: PTCB Certification

  • Complete a PTCB-recognized training program
  • OR gain 500 hours of practical experience as a pharmacy technician: This pathway would be feasible for individuals who register initially as pharmacy technician trainees.
  • Pass the PTCB exam: Once you’ve completed the training or gained the experience, you’ll need to register for and pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).

Option 2: NHA Certification

  • Complete an NHA-recognized training program: Similar to PTCB, search for programs on the NHA website.
  • OR gain practical experience as a pharmacy technician: As noted above, this pathway would be feasible for individuals who register initially as pharmacy technician trainees.
  • Pass the ExCPT exam: After completing the program or gaining experience, you’ll need to pass the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.

Step 3: Apply for Your Iowa Pharmacy Technician License

Once you’ve met the requirements, it’s time to apply for your pharmacy technician registration with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy.

Application Process:

  1. Determine Your Registration Type: Choose between “Certified Pharmacy Technician” if you have national certification, or “Pharmacy Technician Trainee” if you are still in the process of obtaining it.
  2. Complete the Application: The Iowa Board of Pharmacy offers online and paper applications for both registration types. You’ll need to provide personal information, employment details, criminal history, and proof of certification (if applicable).
  3. Pay the Fee:
    • Certified Pharmacy Technician: $40.
    • Pharmacy Technician Trainee: $20.
  4. Submit Your Application: After completing the application and paying the fee, submit your application online.

Processing Time:

The processing time for your application can vary, but it usually takes several weeks. You can check the status of your application online through the Board of Pharmacy’s website.

After Approval:

Once your application is approved, you will receive your registration certificate and can officially start working as a pharmacy technician in Iowa. Remember to keep your registration current by renewing it before it expires.

Remember: Always refer to the Iowa Board of Pharmacy’s website for the most up-to-date information and forms.

Step 4: Renewing Your Pharmacy Technician Registration in Iowa

To maintain your ability to work as a pharmacy technician in Iowa, it’s crucial to keep your registration current. Here’s what you need to know about the renewal process:

Certified Pharmacy Technician Registration Renewal:

  • Renewal Timeline: Renew your registration before your national certification expires.
  • Renewal Fee: $40 per biennium.
  • Late Renewal: If you miss the deadline, you have a one-month grace period to renew with a $40 late fee. If you fail to renew within the grace period, you must reactivate your registration with a $160 fee and cannot practice until it’s reactivated.

Pharmacy Technician Trainee Registration Renewal:

  • Renewal Timeline: Technically, trainee registrations expire after 12 months and are not renewable. The goal is to obtain national certification and upgrade to a certified technician registration within this period.
  • Exceptional Circumstances: In some cases, you may be able to request a renewal under exceptional circumstances. This requires submitting a renewal application and a $20 fee before your registration expires.

How to Renew:

Both certified pharmacy technician and pharmacy technician trainee renewals (if applicable) can be done online through the Iowa Board of Pharmacy’s website.

Key Points to Remember:

  • Mark your registration expiration date on your calendar and set reminders.
  • Start the renewal process early to avoid delays and potential late fees.
  • If you plan to discontinue working as a pharmacy technician, you can request a voluntary cancellation of your registration.
  • Always check the Board of Pharmacy’s website for the latest information on renewal requirements and procedures.

By staying on top of your registration renewal, you can ensure uninterrupted employment as a pharmacy technician in Iowa and continue contributing to the healthcare field.

Additional Tips for Success as a Pharmacy Technician in Iowa

Here are some extra tips to help you excel in your career as a pharmacy technician in Iowa:

  1. Network with Pharmacy Professionals: Connecting with other pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in Iowa can provide invaluable support, mentorship, and job opportunities. Consider attending pharmacy conferences, joining online forums or social media groups, or participating in local pharmacy associations like the Iowa Pharmacy Association (IPA).
  2. Pursue Continuing Education: The field of pharmacy is constantly evolving, so staying updated on new medications, technologies, and regulations is crucial. Take advantage of continuing education courses offered by organizations like the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) or the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).
  3. Specialize in a Niche Area: Consider specializing in a specific area of pharmacy practice, such as compounding, long-term care, or oncology. Specialization can make you more valuable to employers and open up new career paths.
  4. Develop Soft Skills: Excellent communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills are essential for success as a pharmacy technician. Practice active listening, communicate clearly with patients and colleagues, and be proactive in identifying and resolving issues.
  5. Maintain Professionalism: Upholding high standards of professionalism is crucial in the pharmacy setting. This includes adhering to ethical guidelines, maintaining confidentiality, dressing appropriately, and demonstrating a positive attitude towards patients and coworkers.

By following these tips, you can enhance your career prospects, increase your earning potential, and make a lasting impact on the lives of patients in Iowa.


Becoming a registered pharmacy technician in Iowa is an achievable goal with a clear path and rewarding career prospects. By understanding the requirements, obtaining national certification, and registering with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, you can embark on a fulfilling journey in the healthcare field.

Remember, continuous learning and networking are essential for success in this dynamic field. By staying up-to-date on industry trends, honing your skills, and building relationships with fellow professionals, you can thrive as a pharmacy technician in Iowa.


  1. Do I need a high school diploma or GED to become a pharmacy technician in Iowa?

No, there are no specific educational requirements outlined in the Iowa Board of Pharmacy rules for becoming a pharmacy technician.

  1. Is there an age requirement to become a pharmacy technician in Iowa?

No, there is no specific age requirement mentioned in the Iowa Board of Pharmacy rules for becoming a pharmacy technician.

  1. How long does it take to become a registered pharmacy technician in Iowa?

The timeline varies depending on whether you already have national certification. If you’re certified, the registration process usually takes a few weeks. If you’re a trainee, it can take longer as you need to complete your certification within 12 months of registration.

  1. What is the average salary for pharmacy technicians in Iowa?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for pharmacy technicians in Iowa is $41,080 as of May 2023. Salaries can vary based on experience, certification, and work setting.

  1. What happens if my pharmacy technician trainee registration expires before I get certified?

In most cases, your registration will expire, and you cannot work as a pharmacy technician until you obtain certification and register as a certified pharmacy technician. However, in exceptional circumstances, you may be able to request a renewal of your trainee registration.

  1. Can I transfer my pharmacy technician registration from another state to Iowa?

No, Iowa does not offer reciprocity for pharmacy technician registrations. You must apply for a new registration in Iowa, regardless of whether you are certified or licensed in another state.

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