Advancing from Pharmacy Technician to Pharmacist: Our Guide

Pharmacy technicians play a critical task in the healthcare industry, working alongside pharmacists in dispensing medication, processing prescriptions, and managing inventory. 

However, for those who aspire to take on a more expansive role in patient care, becoming a pharmacist may be the next step in their career progression. In this article, we will provide a basic guide for individuals looking to advance from a pharmacy technician to a pharmacist.

Education and Licensing Requirements

To become a pharmacist, one must complete a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program from an accredited institution. These programs generally take four years to earn, including coursework in pharmacology, pharmacy law and ethics, drug interactions, patient care, and more. 

Additionally, candidates must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) to obtain their license.

Fortunately, pharmacy technicians who aspire to become pharmacists can use their expertise in the field to their benefit. Pharmacy technicians are already familiar with the healthcare industry, have knowledge of medical terminology, and have experience working with patients and healthcare professionals.

Preparing for Pharmacy School

Before applying to a PharmD program, pharmacy technicians should prepare by taking prerequisite coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, and math. This coursework will ensure that they are well-equipped to handle the rigorous curriculum of a PharmD program. 

Pharmacy technicians can speak with academic advisors or admissions counselors to determine which courses are required for the PharmD program they are interested in.

Additionally, pharmacy technicians should prepare for the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). The PCAT is a standardized exam that assesses a candidate’s biology, chemistry, mathematics, and critical reading knowledge. Most PharmD programs require applicants to take the PCAT as part of their application.

Gaining Experience

Pursuing a PharmD program can be daunting, but it is also a rewarding experience that can lead to a fulfilling career in pharmacy. During the program, students learn about various aspects of pharmacy, including drug development, pharmacology, and patient care. 

However, one of the most critical elements of the program is gaining practical experience in a pharmacy setting. This is where pharmacy technicians come in.

Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in the pharmacy, and their work is crucial to its success. They are responsible for filling prescriptions, managing inventory, and assisting pharmacists in various tasks. While pursuing a PharmD program, pharmacy technicians can gain additional experience and exposure to the field by working part-time or on a per diem basis at a pharmacy.


Networking can also be an invaluable tool for pharmacy technicians looking to advance to become pharmacists. Pharmacy technicians can attend conferences, seminars, and other events to network with healthcare professionals and learn more about the industry. 

Additionally, pharmacy technicians can join professional organizations such as the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA) to stay connected with their peers and be up-to-date with the latest industry developments.

Financing Pharmacy School

Pharmacy school can be expensive, and pharmacy technicians must understand their financing options. PharmD programs typically cost tens of thousands of dollars per year. However, several financing options are available, including scholarships, grants, and student loans.

Scholarships and grants are an excellent way to fund a PharmD program, as they do not need to be paid back. Many organizations, including the APhA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), offer scholarships and grants to students pursuing a PharmD degree. Additionally, pharmacy technicians may be eligible for student loans, which can be repaid after graduation.


Advancing from a pharmacy technician to a pharmacist involves dedication, hard work, and a commitment to lifelong learning. Pharmacy technicians who aspire to become pharmacists can use their expertise in the field to their benefit but must also prepare themselves by completing prerequisite coursework, taking the PCAT, and gaining additional experience. 

With the right preparation and dedication, pharmacy technicians can successfully transition into a fulfilling career as a pharmacist.

Becoming a Pharmacy Technician allows you to develop the skills needed to become a Pharmacist. Enroll in our comprehensive pharmacy technician course at Northwest Suburban College and gain the skills and knowledge needed to excel in your profession. Take the first step towards your future today and sign up for our course now! 

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