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The truth about California pharmacy tech licenses

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Pharmacy tech schools/programs are cropping up around here in California like herpes after the prom.  I, for one, am sick and tired of these schools duping young ignorant students into handing over their hard-earned money to get some half-assed education when they can avoid it all together.  Thats why my friends, I am going to tell you how you can get your pharmacy tech license WITHOUT setting one foot in some useless program that costs 20k bucks.

Back before 1/1/2004, one could work in a pharmacy as a tech-apprentice and get a license after completing 1500 (or something like that) hours of real-life work.  Personally, I think this is the BEST way one could be a tech since you are being taught exactly what you need to know, what you can and cant do, and all of the things that you will be doing on a daily basis.   These were the glory days when men were men and the generic quinine flowed like cheap booze!  All of this is different now, read on.

Now this is California specific and information that the schools do NOT want you to know.  Here we go.

According to the Calfornia Board of Pharmacy tech license requirements.

Effective January 1, 2004, there are only four ways to qualify for pharmacy technician registration (California Business and Professions Code section 4202). California law now requires that an applicant for a pharmacy technician permit must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Have obtained an associate of arts degree in pharmacy technology.
  2. Have completed a course of training specified by the board (typically provided by employers under requirements of California Code of Regulations Section 1793.6 (provided below)).
  3. Have graduated from a school of pharmacy approved by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education or recognized by the board.
  4. Be certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.

California Code of Regulations section 1793.6 describes the training courses acceptable to the board (item 2 above)

This training is:

  1. Any pharmacy technician training program accredited by the American Society of Health–System Pharmacists,
  2. Any pharmacy technician training program provided by a branch of the federal armed services for which the applicant possesses a certificate of completion, or
  3. Any other course that provides a training period of at least 240 hours of theoretical and practical instruction, provided that at least 120 of these hours are in theoretical instruction in a curriculum that provides:
    1. Knowledge and understanding of different pharmacy practice settings.
    2. Knowledge and understanding of the duties and responsibilities of a pharmacy technician in relationship to other pharmacy personnel and knowledge of standards and ethics, laws and regulations governing the practice of pharmacy.
    3. Knowledge and ability to identify and employ pharmaceutical and medical terms, abbreviations and symbols commonly used in prescribing, dispensing and record keeping of medications.
    4. Knowledge of and the ability to carry out calculations required for common dosage determination, employing both the metric and apothecary systems.
    5. Knowledge and understanding of the identification of drugs, drug dosages, routes of administration, dosage forms and storage requirements.
    6. Knowledge of and ability to perform the manipulative and record-keeping functions involved in and related to dispensing prescriptions.
    7. Knowledge of and ability to perform procedures and techniques relating to manufacturing, packaging, and labeling of drug products.

Laws are stupid and boring.  Lets go through the possible avenues you can be on to become a Tech in California.

  1. Get an AA degree in Pharmacy Technology.  What the fuck is Pharmacy Technology and why is it even an AA program?  It requires school and thereby money, moving on.

  2. Have completed a course of training specified by the board (you can read the boring law as to what “Training” is).  Here is where all of the pharmacy tech “programs” come into play (along with #1 above).  They dupe you into thinking that you need to take their class to become a pharmacy tech.  Most schools tuition range from 15 to 20k bucks and will suck up a good 6 months of your precious life.  All to work in a retail pharmacy counting by 5’s.  Go you.

  3. Have graduated from a school of pharmacy approved by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education or recognized by the board. Translation: “You graduated from pharmacy school with a PharmD but you can’t pass the boards to save your life”.  Congratulations, you are the most overqualified pharmacy tech on the planet, here is your certificate on waterproof paper so your tears don’t smudge the ink.

  4. Be certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.  Wait, whats this?  What is this strange PTCB you speak of?  Well, its a test.  Its a 90 question multiple choice test given at a hochillion testing centers around the state year-round.  Here is their online application to apply for this test.  Their requirements to take the test?

High school diploma or its equivalent (e.g., a GED or foreign diploma).
• No felony conviction.
• No drug or pharmacy related convictions, including misdemeanors. These violations must be
disclosed to PTCB.
• No denial, suspension, revocation, or restriction of registration or licensure, consent order or
other restriction by any State Board of Pharmacy.
• No admission of misconduct or violation of regulations of any State Board of Pharmacy.

So, pay 15k and have information spoon-fed to you, or spend $200 bucks (the test is $129 of that) to get a PTCB study-guide from Boarders/B&N (search for PTCB exam), read it at home, take the practice test, then go to a testing center and get THE EXACT SAME THING.  PLUS if you pass the test you get a fancy CPhT after your name!  Just that information alone is worth it for you to buy Drugmonkey’s book with all the money you saved!

That’s it!  That is all you need to do!  Take a 90 question test and you’ll have your license!  No teachers! No books! No $20k financial-aid’s dirty looks!

Why am I doing this?  This is why; the pharmacy tech market in California is saturated to hell.  I get at least 2 applications a month from people looking for pharmacy tech jobs.  I feel horrible for some idiot who spent 20k bucks to have some washed up pharmacy-tech yap at them in a classroom to get a license that there isn’t any job demand for.  Its that simple.  These schools are swindling these students out of their money with promises to “get in on the pharmacy action” when there are already TOO many techs LOOKING for jobs.  I don’t think its right because the schools make it sound like their program is the only way to get a tech license, and that’s an outrageous lie.

I’ve worked with CPhT’s that just took the test, and externs who are close to finishing these ‘wonder-schools’.  I’ll be honest, both of them are shit-worthless walking in the door, with the CPhT’s a bit more useful than the externs solely because they have the ambition to study on their own.  I spend more god-damned time doing brand-generic translations, telling them they pulled the WRONG drug, and fixing their mistakes for them to be any worth to me.  What the fuck are these schools teaching these externs?  If you studied at home, I can sorta give you some lee-way.  But if you spent 6 months in a CLASS getting LECTURED on shit, you should damn well know what Keflex and Vicodin’s generic names are.  It’s gotten to the point where I refuse to take any tech-school externs because they end up COSTING me more time than SAVING me time by having them be there.  Yes, they are there to learn, but I am there to work.  Teaching time was in the classroom, “you should of learned this there”.

Now granted, some people learn better by having the information spoon-fed to them via a talking-head and homework than reading a book on their own, but is it worth 15-20k?  Honestly I want a tech that can read, understand, internalize, and apply on their own rather than asking me the same pointless questions every day.  I don’t have TIME to be a talking-head explaining them shit they should of learned at these fancy programs! I have work I need to do; and although these externs aren’t getting paid, they are preventing ME from doing what I need to get done with their should-of-learned-“How many mL’s are in a teaspoon?”-in-school questions.  At least intern pharmacists can take new prescriptions!

I’m waiting for the “Well, we all have to start somewhere!” excuses.  My preemptive response to your bogus statement: “You went to a SCHOOL to LEARN how to do this and you are SHIT-WORTHLESS.  You have FORMAL INSTRUCTION in this field and you don’t know your ASSHOLE from a 30 DRAM VIAL.  If I have to tell you one more time why HYDRALAZINE is not the same as HYDROXYZINE I am going to shove Drugmonkey’s Book (Go buy it) UP YOUR ASS.”  That’s right, his book up your turd-cutter.  Harsh, I know.

Another unrelated point on my refusal to take externs is a trust thing.  With a CPhT licensed tech, he/she is an employee.  We have paperwork on them.  We know where they live.  With an extern, its just a name from the school.  What prevents them from pocketing a handful (or a bottle) of vicodin during their X-hour externship stay at my store?  I don’t have the time to watch him/her like a hawk, and its my license on the line if something comes up missing. I’m not going to do a narc inventory after EVERY extern rotates out, so one of 12 externs/year could nab a bottle of vicodin and nobody could pin it on exactly who did it.  So I choose to just not deal with the situation at all.  Yeah, its a shitty outlook that really isn’t justified, but at the same time its my ass.

Comments #

Comment by Phathead on 2010-12-03 00:15:00 -0800 #

Here’s the fun part too, the PTCB test isn’t anywhere near as difficult as it used to be. I know several people who went to take the test who knew jackshit about pharmacy, yet passed with flying colors. One of them had asked me the day before test what hydrocodone was for.

When I took it six years ago it was actually on shit you had to know. Now enough of it is remedial math that anyone with half a brain cell can pass it.

The best techs we have are ones that we can train on the job. We wouldn’t even hire anyone who went to a ‘Pharm Tech School’ or even some of the recent C.PhTs. They thought they knew all of this shit and were high in mighty while in reality what they had ‘learned’ was not applicable to daily work life.

Gotta be jealous you didn’t think of the idea for a tech school first though, right? You know how much money some son of a bitch probably has now? I think I’m gonna start the American College for Janitors and hand out AAs in Janitorial Sciences. Who’s with me?

Comment by Stacy on 2010-12-03 00:48:02 -0800 #

Thank You! Finally someone else realizes how much BS these schools are. I’m a tech who got my CPHT years ago before moving to CA and I had never heard of extern before I got here. As a collective whole, these externs are the biggest waste of time-morons I have ever met (although I don’t think too highly of most of the “techs” here either). My favorite thing to do it inform each new extern that they just got royally screwed out of 20k. The look on their faces is truly priceless.

Funny thing is just a few days ago I had a discussion with 2 of my pharmacists telling them exactly what you are saying.

Comment by tch to pharmd on 2010-12-03 01:35:46 -0800 #

Two options infinitely better than those colleges:

  1. Adult school. County Office of Education. Regional Occupational Program. Three months classroom, three months externship, $500, and I had my tech license.

  2. Get a job as a clerk. Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens. Show them you’re not completely incompetent and they will train you (and pay you during training, in some cases).

The tech school ‘colleges’ kill me. The kids are dumber than anything. Pet peeve: I don’t give a shit if you have “CPhT” after your name if you don’t know where to put it on your resume (hint: you are LICENSED by the state board and CERTIFIED by the PTCB).

I also don’t understand why, if the college you just paid $15-30k to for a two year education gets you a tech license, why oh why would you pay another $100 to get certified? YOU HAVE THE LICENSE.

Last year when I was working as a pharmacist intern at a retail chain, I had to step in when a technician extern started counseling a patient. Not only is he not even licensed as a technician yet, when I asked him to step back, he argues, “I’m not counseling, I’m just telling her the directions.”

Just about punched that kid.

All the drugs get re-stocked in the wrong damn place when we get externs too.

Comment by azchica608 on 2010-12-03 02:52:28 -0800 #

I totally agree with you! We have the same problem here in AZ. I always tell people who talk about pharmacy tech school to just look up PTCB and study and take the exam! You don’t need to go to school to be able to pass the exam, I didn’t. I studied on my own and took it back in the day when it was actually difficult to pass.
You are totally right about most externs being worthless!! I only met one who was awesome straight out of school. Most of them hate working for free to fulfill their hours and will do as little as possible to get by.

Comment by Kayli on 2010-12-13 21:49:03 -0800 #

This makes me laugh. I’m a pharmacy tech in Arkansas and I’ve had so many people ask me “How do you like being a pharmacy tech? I’m in school for it right now.” Well, I like it alright. I mean, it’s a job I have until I get through school and get a REAL job. But I want to shake them and explain that all I did was pay $90 for a background check and a license. Then after I got some experience I took the certification test and now am a CERTIFIED pharmacy technician. The school is such a joke and I feel sorry for those who spent the money and bought into that crock of shit.

Comment by THECapedCaper on 2010-12-14 21:39:15 -0800 #

One night we had one of these externs come in to work with us. We had assumed that since she was taking the pharmacy tech classes, she would at least know how to fill a prescription.


We had to explain to her how to pull the drug, scan the label, scan the drug, count by 5’s, get the correct vial/lid, blah blah blah. Needless to say, she was stuck as a cashier for a good two months before we could ease her in to the real world. What a fucking waste of $15K.

Comment by youngrx on 2010-12-15 00:23:52 -0800 #

It is really sad that people will pay so much money to go to these schools, just to get out and know less about the workflow and overall work environment than the cashiers. Ultimately, they become educated to start out less experienced than the cashier that has been training there for a couple of months. I’m linking this to a post on my blog. I wrote about this earlier, but there is a lot more information here.

Comment by Brendan on 2010-12-15 14:09:07 -0800 #

Good post.

I never heard about pharmacy before someone told me about how much techs can make with little to no experience. I bought a used study book off Amazon, read it and took the practice test the night before and made huge marks on the PTCB exam (was incredibly easy and mostly math).

I then took the CPhT certificate and went actively searching for a job. Amazingly, the pharmacist there told the store manager he was taking me, and that was that. Now I’m in my 2nd year of pharmacy school and I haven’t looked back. It’s only recently that I’ve heard of people taking these waste of time classes and blowing huge amounts of money on them. I laugh everytime.

You’re dead on about the newbie pharmacy tech. I didn’t know jack-all and most days I was just bumbling around trying not to screw up. A few months in, I had almost decided I couldn’t stand anymore yelling or mean customers. So I have to say it, everyone starts somewhere. When I see new techs, I always remember how it was when I started and that helps lower the blood pressure. At least for a month, then their ass is grass if they screw up.

Comment by Aussie Pharm Assistant on 2010-12-16 02:01:15 -0800 #

What the hell? If I was spending 20k for a degree, I sure as shit wouldn’t be doing an arts degree (and I’ve totally missed the boat where an arts degree = pharmacy tech. I mean I know you take subjects etc, but here I was thinking pharmacy was a science..)

All I had to do to be able to sell medicine was fill in a booklet that the company paid for about legal requirements and generic vs trade name. Everything else was on the job.

Comment by Ed on 2010-12-16 02:02:44 -0800 #

Spot on assessment.

I did just that a year ago. I bought a PTCB study guide on Amazon (which I later sold and got my money back), read over it off and on for 2 to 3 weeks and took the exam. I barely knew any of the drug names but aced all the calculation questions to pass it. A couple weeks after passing it and I’m working as a part time CPhT.

My greatest accomplishment in the past year? I’ve cut the ‘getting yelled at’ from 5 times a week to just once a week 😀

Comment by Drexl on 2010-12-16 14:43:33 -0800 #

I wonder if I could do the same in the state of Michigan? I don’t have the time nor the money for ” Pharmacy Tech School” but I am ready to study and take the test if it means a better job than what I’m in now.

BTW Been reading this site since Feb. ’09 and still check it three times daily for updates 🙂 .

Comment by hannah on 2010-12-16 19:12:38 -0800 #

Eh. CCs out here offer a 4-6 week pharm tech course which is basically a Kaplan-esque study session for the PTCB exam. It’s a couple hundred dollars but less expensive than the actual Kaplan courses that my friends studying for the MCAT/NCLEX take. So yeah. Some people suck at studying on their own or lack the motivation to do so. I have a friend who dropped $900 on a six week Kaplan study session for the NCLEX which I can’t believe but she can’t believe that my studying amounts to dropping $40 on some old NCLEX study guides and going through them when I’m bored.

re. dropping $20,000 on a job where you’ll probably start out making minimum wage anyway — all of those for-profit colleges are scams.

Comment by Mary on 2010-12-16 22:28:35 -0800 #

Please send your overflow techs to CVS in Fort Bragg!!! We are 2 short, and it’s killing us.

Comment by Jeff on 2010-12-17 11:04:01 -0800 #

Most of these schools are a scam. They tell people that Medical Assistants/Pharmacy Techs/whatever other else make a lot of money, and that they can get them jobs in these fields. Then their finacial aid department sets them up with student loans for 80-90% of the $20,000 tuition. The student completes the coursework, gets their license/certificate and then realizes that there is a finite number of MA/PhT jobs in their area, and that most of these are already filled (also he/she is competing with all of his/her fellow “graduates” for the couple of positions that may be available). In the meantime, they’ve racked up $20,000 in student loans, and $10,000 in credit card debt (they were going to school, and had to live on credit). Now according to, Pharmacy Techs in California make on average $12-$16/hour which equates to about $25,000-33,000/year. Most of these “student” end up having to take a position as a clerk making $8/hour (about $17,000/year) because all the tech jobs are taken and then I get court orders to garnish their wages because they’ve defaulted on their loans, and the store’s phone is ringing off the hook because collection agencies are trying to track them down. Even if they get the job they want, they still end up in collections because at $12-$16/hour they can’t afford rent, car payment, gas, utilities, and be expected to pay their credit card bill and loan payment (they usually choose getting their hair and nails done over the loan payment). So the end result is aome poor “graduate” hopelessly in debt for the next 10 or more years, while the “school” sits back and counts their money.

Comment by Danimal on 2010-12-17 11:04:26 -0800 #

I’m curious — how much are CPhTs paid over there in CA? What makes people think $20K is a good investment for such a job?

Comment by Pill Counting Slave on 2010-12-17 13:07:40 -0800 #

I love this post! I’m the Sr. Tech at my pharmacy and I shake my head every time a new extern comes in or some poor schmuck asks me how many years of school I had to take to become a technician! Go to your states board of pharmacy website, get the licensing details, apply, then study up for your ptcb, pay money, and you’re set! I tell each person I train right from the start that training to become a good tech takes about a year of constant daily repetition and practice. That usually scares the ones who are going to quit within six months anyway because it turned out pharmacy was way more than just “counting pills”. (In the chain I work for RPHs primarily verify and counsel. Occasionally fill. That’s it, all other duties fall to the techs.) I once had an extern who told me in her classes they compounded chapstick. Compounding chapstick? Please. Do some research of your own before being duped by scam schools.

Comment by TxPharm on 2010-12-17 13:17:37 -0800 #

These tech schools are a joke. My brother-in-law has spent 18k on one and has failed the tech exam 4 times. He would show me his home work from the school and they would have him studying the coagulation cascades and other things that a techincian would not need to know. I told him as a tech he would never need to know any of that. He just blew me off, but hey I just a pharmacist what do I know. The schools advertise pharmacy techs making 30 to 40K a year. I only made 30k once while working as a tech out of 5 years. I do know a few techs who clear 40-45K a year, but they work in a hospital and have work there for close to 20 years.

Comment by Jeff on 2010-12-17 17:26:48 -0800 #

First off, you don’t graduate from these schools with your CPhT, they are just getting a regular tech license, no board certification. Although many of the schools do offer a class on taking the CPhT exam (for an extra couple grand). I pay CPhT’s the same as I pay anyone with a tech license. They are not allowed to do anything that a regular tech can’t do. Passing the CPhT exam is just another way to get a tech license. Techs in CA average around $12-16/hour, CPhT or otherwise. $20K is not a good investment for such a job. That was the point of TAP’s post. Why pay $20K when you can buy a CPhT exam study guide for $50 and take the test for another $150 or so? Most people don’t realize that going through the school is one of several ways to qualify for a Pharm Tech license in CA. They think it’s the only way to get licensed.

Comment by Richard on 2010-12-17 18:46:42 -0800 #


Apparently you douchebags know everything. First of all, TAP, you act as if a student placed into a new environment, and not knowing what the hell to do is some sort of anomaly. I graduated from a technician training program. Most of what we learned in the classroom was THEORY based; medical terminology, pharmacology, law/ethics, etc. We did experience some of the practical stuff in the lab, but for the most part, that’s what the externships are for… learn to apply your knowledge in a practical setting.

I work in a hospital pharmacy, and 99% of the interns we get from PHARMACY SCHOOL don’t know their ass from their elbow. They are clueless as shit. Do you know why??? Because they learned THEORY in school, and have to complete externships to learn to apply that information. TAP, I imagine that your cranky, cynical ass was much the same way. So, why don’t you cut these technician students some slack.

Secondly, could it be that the technicians who have posted here, are just pissed and feeling inadequate because people who complete training programs are ultimately more qualified than you? Sounds plausible to me. Especially since most of you seem to work in retail, where shooting the shit with customers and ‘counting by fives’ are probably the most challenging things you do all day. How ’bout working in a hospital pharmacy, making IV’s, TPN’s, or chemo, where you actually have to know some shit to make it through the workday. I’ll pause now so that those of you who didn’t complete a training program can ‘Google’ what a TPN is.

And finally, TAP, I believe that you work retail as well. You act as if this is some sort of grand achievement. Anyone that is well versed in medical terminology and basic pharmacology, and literate enough to read through the DUR warnings that the COMPUTER GENERATES could be a retail pharmacist. So, basically you spent tens of thousands of dollars on an education that legally allows you to accept phoned in RX’s from a doctors office. But, you make like five times more than a tech, so I suppose you’re superior to them, right?

Comment by CPhT on 2010-12-17 19:45:06 -0800 #

i agree with it all.. but i would not say it’s a “washed up” tech teaching the course.. i’d say it’s a tech that realized they make a lot more money teaching in this scam than they do working as a tech at wal-mart.

Comment by theangrypharmacist on 2010-12-17 22:24:03 -0800 #

Oh boy, an uppity hospital tech. Time for a beatdown.

You obviously completely missed the point of this rant. To be honest, to try to explain it to you would be a waste of my time.

Any monkey can make a TPN, but the fact of the matter is that to be licensed to make a TPN would you rather waste $15k or $200? Thats the point of this rant, maybe if your reading comprehension was as witty as your TPN making skills you’d actually pick up on this. No tech students/CPHT’s know how to make a TPN out of the gate, and to be honest I doubt you would either if you didn’t have the hospital protocol and a pharmacist making the formula for you.

Intern pharmacists are shit when they start working in the ‘real world’. So are externs. However is the $15k shit more useful than the $200 shit? No, they are both shit. However i’m more leanant to someone who got their tech license reading out of a book than someone who went to ‘school’ to become a tech.

Pharmacy is a ‘learn on the job’ career, and when my school trained extern is unable to convert an 90 day supply rx to a 30 day supply rx with 2 additional refills, I start to wonder what is the point of the $15k spent in schooling. How much ‘theory’ is learning simple brand/generics? Students who come in on their externs are shit worthless, and for the money I would expect them to do simple calculations and know the most common brand/generics.

Oh, and if I could forgo my $200k worth of pharmacy school debt to get a pharmacist license out of a self-study guide for $200 bucks, I’d agree with you. Unfortunately there is more to retail than just reading “DUR warnings that the COMPUTER GENERATES”. Maybe if you had it in you to survive retail rather than just being a laminar flow hood bitch you’d realize this.

Oh, and just so we’re on the same page, yes, I am superior to a tech, all pharmacists are. The reason is that without a pharmacist, a tech cannot practice pharmacy. If you could, you’d be a pharmacist. Guess who takes the fall when you fuck up? Its whoever license you are working under. Face it, your sole job is to free us up from doing ‘remedial and tedious tasks’ like making TPN’s and counting by 5’s so we can do actual work. Does that make you below us? In a way, yes. Do we respect you less? Of course not, but you need to know your role in the grand scheme of pharmacy. So if you want to talk the talk, then go to pharmacy school and get your PharmD.

Comment by sumotoad on 2010-12-17 23:30:04 -0800 #

All y’all missed the point– yes, the pharm tech schools are a scam. But it is a scam that we, the workers, pay for. “Retraining” after long term unemployment, “welfare to work” programs for mothers of illegitimate larvae, “student grants” for “underprivileged” persons– whatever it’s called, these well-intentioned but stupidly administered programs )we’re talking government here) are the money sources that these so-called schools rely on. I won’t allow an extern from any of these schools in my pharmacy, but you and I pay for them.

Comment by Phathead on 2010-12-18 00:54:12 -0800 #

“Especially since most of you seem to work in retail, where shooting the shit with customers and ‘counting by fives’ are probably the most challenging things you do all day.”

Ya know, I could say that all you do is sit on your ass at a bench every day and mix together a few things a la Shake-N-Bake and put them a in a bag. Whoopdy do, high school students across the country do the same actions, allbeit it with far less interesting materials.

Don’t degrade your fellow techs (speaking of which, you speak of being on the side of the pissy techs here, but you seem to be the only one. You’re not better than them simply because you work in a hospital. Let’s see you work a ten hour day in a retail setting after a holiday. If it’s as easy as you think it is, you get your ass in our pharmacy and I’ll show you what it is we do every day.

And you clearly do not know what a pharmacist is or what they have been trained to do. Do you have any idea the knowledge you need to track all of the various drug interactions? You’re welcome to sit in my intro to drug delivery course any time you want. If it’s so easy to do since all we do is answer the phone, I’m sure you’ll be able to keep right up them right? Tell you what, you told us to Google, so why don’t you go ahead. Wait, I’ll help you out since you’re too busy making your special TPNs to do so –

Check your ego at the door. You’re not anymore special than myself or anyone else here.

The whole point of this post was that there are people spending $20k for a piece of paper that they truly do not need. It is a public service announcement to help people make a financially sound choice and to berate the money grubbing schools that exist.

Have a nice night… Dick.

Comment by southern rph on 2010-12-18 08:49:12 -0800 #

I am currently working with a recent grad from a tech school. It is basic stuff that is annoying not just the inability of calculating days supply of 4 ounces of cough syrup when taking 1 tsp q4h, but having to fix the stapler because it is “broken” ….ummmm dear it just ran out of staples! Where did these people come from!

Comment by HospitalRPh on 2010-12-18 11:46:15 -0800 #

To Richard:
I AM a hospital pharmacist who used to be a retail pharmacist, and I worked as a student (tech) in both settings before graduating and getting my license, and I can honestly tell you that making TPNs does not in any way make you more superior or intelligent than a retail technician. I also know that it does not require $20,000 worth of education to make a TPN. Let me ask you this: did you ever WORK in retail? Retail sucks! Those people are in the trenches taking grenades day in and day out! You may have a little more variety in your job as a hospital tech, but I certainly wouldn’t say that you are in any way superior to your retail pharmacy colleagues. Know how I know? Most of the new techs we get are actually retail refugees like myself, with no hospital experience…and in my state, definitely no pharmacy technician license. Hell, 3/4 of our techs aren’t even board certified! And they kick ass! They’re smart enough to realize that A) there is no requirement for them to be board certified in this state, and B) the hospital we work for will not offer them any financial impetus to GET certified! Granted, we have some lazy people like you do everywhere, but we’ve also got some incredible techs who have (surprise, surprise) become incredible by spending time on the job and learning as they go. They are extremely valuable to us! I’m sure, license/certification or not, they would work circles around you while you’re too busy counting the $20,000 feathers in your hat. Enjoy your student loan payments, idiot.

Comment by Phathead on 2010-12-18 16:11:06 -0800 #

The place I worked for had an unwritten rule that we wouldn’t hire anyone from a ‘tech school’ unless we had to. They were a pain in the ass because you essentially had to retrain them. It’s much easier starting with someone green.

Comment by My2Cents on 2010-12-18 18:52:31 -0800 #

I’d prefer a technician who had SOME schooling versus someone who just read a book or passed an exam with a 60%. I agree with TAP that spending $20K on “tech school” is a joke and a travesty. A 2 semester community college course is (or was, depending on budget cuts) significantly cheaper @ $20 / unit for 12 units? A lab pretending how to fill and dispense, a law class, and a pharmacology class (so you can pre-emptively prevent mistakes from reaching the pharmacist and having them fix it for you). Toss in an externship / free labor to show that you’re not a total jackass and can apply what you learned in class and you should have a decent technician. I’d hire a technician with a basic understanding of how not to kill someone before I’d hire someone who was only trained how to count / follow directions.

Nothing is worse than a career technician who flaunts their lack of ambition / curiosity by not taking advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the drugs they’re dispensing.

Comment by GatorIntern on 2010-12-19 00:24:49 -0800 #

Stop being a bitch, go to Pharm School.
Your post shows a complete and total lack of understanding for what your Pharmacist (who takes responsibility for all of your actions in the Pharmacy, and who’s education allows you to HAVE a job) went through to be in the position they now hold. What kind of bullshit are they telling students of tech programs these days?
See ya in 3 TAP

Comment by Frank on 2010-12-19 00:36:43 -0800 #

I am a 9+ year pharm tech at Walgreens that has been PTCB for about 7 years. I thinmk the PTCB test is worthless. The only reason I took it and continue to do the CE credits is the $1+ raise and requirement to keep the PTCB. I have worked with a handful of externs from the local college. For the last few years, I have decided that it is a worthless program. The PTCB program is worthless too, but at least I had a job and a raise to do it. My job also sent me to Illinois a few years ago. I had to apply to be a tech in that state before I could work there. I’m not sure what the liscense I had to apply for was for, but it didn’t serve any purpose to my job. Nothing I have “learned” (which is nothing) from the PTCB test or CE credits has helped me in my job.

BTW, you should come to michigan to work with me. We seem to have the same type of sense of humor, and I bet you like beer.

Comment by on 2010-12-19 22:34:42 -0800 #

TheAngryPharmacist, you’ve been badass lazy for quite a while. I am tired of visting your website constantly and not seeing a new post to get a good laugh. Work harder to entertain me, or may your anus grow a tumor the size of your balls.

Comment by on 2010-12-19 23:17:58 -0800 #

hmm…let me guess, Mexico?

Comment by annon on 2010-12-20 16:55:06 -0800 #

In RI all you have to do is pass a drug test and get a $40 tech licence……

Comment by Sofia on 2010-12-20 20:06:41 -0800 #

“pharmacology class (so you can pre-emptively prevent mistakes from reaching the pharmacist and having them fix it for you).”
This is nice and fancy for them to learn, but is STILL not their call to make. In fact, I’ll say this makes matters worse, because it instills in them the belief they know better than the pharmacist.

Comment by Kris10 on 2010-12-21 18:57:56 -0800 #

I have to say, I’m currently a certified tech and the school sounds like the biggest waste of money and time ever. I got hired for the chain that I work for with zero experience and no certification: they paid for both. Not to mention that half of the info that was taught to me in in the national certification is stuff that a tech has no need for. I have to imagine that even in a hospital people skills and common sense are the most important things for a tech to have.

Comment by oldg on 2010-12-22 12:27:00 -0800 #

lets see here. for this paticular post I have to say that you are wrong in some ways not all mr.angry, i am currently an instructor at one of these schools and yes just like most admission reps do they are squirley and tell them a bright buetiful story, but when they get to me i sit them down and let them face the facts about what they are getting into. You need to relize that not all of us instructors are the same, and that is what it boils down to me the instructor. yes the student pays the school when they really do not have to but it is up to the instructor to educate them. For example my paticular class goes thru a mock pharmacy from the time the script enters the building to sending it out. they do this for a retail, hospital, and specialty pharmacies. I have pharmacists come and observe and tell me what they feel is more important and what i can leave out. My students get chemo cetified and IV / Admixture certified before even getting their PTCB done. I have had over 75% of my students sit for there pcab exam and pass it with flying colors and go on to become pharmacists. It is all in the way they are taught and not the school itself. my externship sites actually hire my techs because of past experience with them and let me know if they recieved a deadbeat or not. again it is the instructor. I would love for you to come and visit me and my students anytime you would like. in fact i would challenge you to find one you would not hire.

Comment by AwesomeTech on 2010-12-22 12:40:06 -0800 #

This is why I love Illinois…their lack of caring for anything. To be a tech in Illinois, you fill out an application, mail it with your high school diploma, pass a background check and BOOM, you’re a tech. Albeit, now within two years you need to become certified, but thats two years. Plus, my company pays for everyone’s license renewal every year! When I started as a tech 7 years ago, I did not take our company course for almost two years, so I learned everything on the job, which I believe is the best way for it. I have people wanting to apply for tech jobs and say theyre taking the classes at our community college and I tell them its a waste of time and money because you will have to go through a COMPANY PAID course on the same damn thing. Yay Illinois!!

Comment by cardsfanbj on 2010-12-22 18:19:50 -0800 #

On the plus side, if you do end up shoving Drug Monkey’s book up their ass, maybe they’ll learn by osmosis then…

I’m a pharmacy technician in Missouri and all I had to do was mail them $35-ish dollars and submit to a background check and fingerprinting. I did all my learning on the job. For the first month and a half, I was that one guy asking questions about every single insurance card/prescription/brand and generic. After about two months, I was as good at sig codes as one of my friends who was there for about a year then. Now, I’m the guy who the new girl is asking everything for. Granted, I’m still pretty antisocial, but my boss told me the only thing keeping me from being promoted to the senior tech for our store is the fact that I’m a part-timer, only working weekends. (meanwhile, I’ve been studying engineering and will be studying business admin)
No fancy classes, just laughably poor acting on the training videos and outdated software training.

Comment by KiKi on 2010-12-22 22:49:36 -0800 #

My friend asked how to become a Pharm, Tech.. I told her just apply at the Pharmacy.. They will train you (and get paid for it) and they would pay for your PTCB test and your license *blah blah blah*. I told her NOT to go to any vocational school, that it was a waste of money and time. SO.. She was so happy for the information and thanked me. A couple of days later I saw on facebook that she was going to a tech school here in AZ!!! WTF! I was so mad! She did not take my advice what-so-ever! So good job, you just screwed yourself out of 20k! Congratulations, you’re a fucking idiot! (Now go apply at some piece of shit pharmacy, not mine!)

Comment by KiKi on 2010-12-22 22:56:49 -0800 #

We have the same thing.. My store manager (who always gets into our pharmacy business) wanted to hire someone and we told her that we didn’t want ANYONE that went to a tech school.. She asked why and the response was “Because they are retarded. They WASTED all that money and time. So obviously they aren’t very smart!” 🙂

Comment by PharmParty23 on 2010-12-23 18:43:52 -0800 #

yeah I agree. I had some jackass tech try to counsel a patient on ‘increased risk of seizure with tramadol and lexapro.’ Some other pharmacist had printed a sheet out of the stupid computer interaction when it wasn’t even a big deal (especially considering this was low doses of both and is given together all the time) and before I knew it she was running her mouth to the patient about serotonin syndrome. I’d rather have a tech that doesn’t know what they’re doing than some bitch that thinks they run the show.

Comment by rph3664 on 2010-12-23 20:52:23 -0800 #

I have met several people who took the one-semester CPhT course offered by my local community college, paid for by JTPA because the factory where they worked had closed, and all of them regretted it. They all said, “I could have been actually working at this job and making money!”

Comment by rph3664 on 2010-12-23 20:59:53 -0800 #

You are an instructor (of ANYTHING) and you write that poorly?

Comment by rph3664 on 2010-12-23 21:05:00 -0800 #

Some beauty schools are that way too. I once heard about such a school that was investigated by the state because so few of their students were passing boards, and when the board met the students who failed, it was really obvious what was going on – these people were mentally retarded.

BTW, my pharmacist degree cost me about $20,000 total. I attended a community college and a state school in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Comment by Nicole on 2010-12-24 20:52:02 -0800 #

I agree completely, I am a lead technician at my pharmacy and got certified a few years ago when the test was 300 questions with good old fashion pencil and paper. Now its computerized and less than 100 questions and easier than anything from what I hear by the techs I train. We had just hired a girl who graduated from one of these schools and was nationally certified. She was talking all high and mighty about her fancy degree and that she had sooo much to teach us. And after listening to all her bs that first day…she quit! Couldnt take the job in a real setting, not even one day!

Comment by Kim on 2010-12-25 14:55:53 -0800 #

In the state of Washington, you are required to take the PTCB and pass some type of approved training program, whether its at a school or an on the job training program through a retail pharmacy like Walgreens. You are also required to complete 240 hrs of internship time. So, I went to a community college and spent about $3500 in tuition and books, and finished my program this month. My license application has been mailed in and now I have to find a job. I feel pretty prepared, especially after my internships, and hopefully I will be able to find a job quickly.

Am I fool for spending the money to get some schooling? I guess I’ll find out if I can’t find a job in the next couple of months.

Comment by Erin on 2010-12-26 10:51:03 -0800 #

See, you’re an example of why it’s a waste of 20K. How are you an instructor when you can barely even spell common words? I learned how to spell beautiful in 4th grade. Also, this thing called the internet also offers this amazing function called ‘spell check’, and it’s absolutely free! If you’re uncomfortable using it for free, feel free to send me a check every time you use it.

I haven’t met an extern yet that I’d want to hire. It’s like they suck all the common sense out of these people in ‘school’.

Comment by crusty rph on 2010-12-30 08:27:31 -0800 #

We got tech school grad who was unaware of NDC numbers

Comment by sumotoad on 2010-12-30 23:14:12 -0800 #

Me too, bro. I worked my way thru pharmacy school by working full time and going to school full time in the mid 90’s. Community college then state school. I graduated with no debt and a GPA in the mid 3.7’s. Five years of total exhaustion that I barely remember. The pity is these kids today can’t do what we did; they are victims of the PharmD bullshit that costs them postgrad tuition from day one. I have one great gal working for me now who is in debt more than the mortgages on both my houses together. For me, a guy with no advantages who had to work, it would be out of my reach today. PS no offense to the PharmD’s– there were nine of them in my class and all of them failed the California Board Exam back when it was the Gold Standard. Some of them failed it multiple times. I smoked it my first try five years later with a BSPharm…

Comment by David on 2011-01-05 01:16:29 -0800 #

You are such an inspiration! I am a CPhT in Illinois. I can relate to what you are talking about. I actually got two years on the job training as a tech/clerk before getting certified. Don’t quote me on it, but I think that we get to be licensed in IL for two years and then have to take the Cert Exam. It was good on the job training, and then with some studying on LAW and such, I passed the exam with no problem. I feel like I can do a good job with my training and I wish people did not get coerced into these idiotic schools and training.

Keep up the amazing blog! We all need something to relate to and laugh about after a shitty day of handing out the Vicodin that is the wrong fucking color!

Side Story- Customer comes into the pharmacy to pick up Watson brand Hydrocodone. He gets the bottle, pays, and walks away. 5 minutes later he is back and pissed off. I go over to him to see what the issue is.

Customer- “You gave me the wrong damned hydrocodone.”

Me-“Let me take a look at it, what seems to be the issue?”

Customer- “My hydrocodone is supposed to be blue!!! You gave me green pills!”

I open the bottle and see blue tablets. “Sir, these are blue.”

He takes the bottle and looks at them, and walks away.

Green tablets eh? Yes. They were green when looking at the blue tablets through the AMBER FUCKING VIAL


Comment by Will on 2011-01-21 05:59:35 -0800 #

I’m glad that I stumbled over this website. I’m changing careers and am interested in going to pharmacy school to earn a PharmD. I checked out some pharm. schools through PharmCAS and noticed that some schools require in-pharmacy work experience as a prerequisite to application. Not knowing anyone in the industry, I checked my state’s (CA) board requirements, thought that going to an ASHP-accredited school would be best, and found that the only non-private (read cheap) training listed on the ASHP website is far from me (Cerritos junior college).

I visited a couple private schools listed on the ASHP webste. They’re like the ones you see commercials for during the day – the ones that look like they’re targeted at kids just out of high school that don’t want to go to a JC or a 4-yr college but want some sort of vocational training. One would cost $16,500 and the other would have been $12,500. Each was about 8 or 9 months. The sales rep’s pitches sounded pretty convincing. Around the same time, I watched CNBC’s “Price of Admission” (, and got spooked.

I don’t remember HOW I stumbled onto this site, but the Angry Pharmacist got me to rethink the private school. I also found a Los Angeles County report from 2009 stating that although the demand for pharm tech’s will be high, schools (private, for the most part) are pumping out twice as many pharm. tech.’s as will be needed and that pharmacists overwhelmingly prefer experienced pharm. tech.’s, anyway. I don’t mind taking a tech. class then starting as a “pharm. aide,” though – I want to see what the business is like and get a better idea of my suitability to the profession prior to taking the anatomy, physiology, microbiology, biology, and inorganic+organic chemistry pre-req. classes required by practically every PharmD program. I never took these classes when I earned my BS.

Anyway, after reading this posting, I kept reading other “pharm. tech. school” blogs I found through Google and found a reference to local “regional occupational programs” all over the county. They’re <$1,000 and take 4 months and offer virtually the same thing as the private schools. I signed up for one and am starting soon. I feel a bit sad for those 19-20 year-old’s whose pictures I saw on those walls of those private schools during the tours I was given. That much tuition money does not make sense for a job that starts at around $12/hr. with such low job prospects (2:1 ratio of “qualified applicant” to opening).

While I continue working and taking the 4-month class (and beyond), I plan to keep reading this blog. I generally don’t read blogs with a high proportion of cynical comments/posts (brings to mind issues of excessive subjectivity), but it’s the next best thing to personally knowing a bunch of people in the industry. Thanks for the posts.

Comment by katbird_27 on 2011-01-30 18:10:14 -0800 #

looks like the schools in california are crap. that is sad. up here in Washington, we actually have tech externs who can do the work after a day of observing how i do it. after a week they can be left alone. I’ve had techs who went to school, and techs who transferred from states where school wasn’t required. guess what, the better techs were the ones who graduated from a school. the ones who didn’t go to school hide their insecurity by acting like they know it all, when they are clearly wrong.

Comment by katbird_27 on 2011-01-30 18:17:51 -0800 #

would you rather find the mistake yourself, or have the tech say hmm, this doesn’t look right? my guess in a busy pharmacy you would rather the tech find it, as that would save seconds in the time it takes to fill. the patients have NO COMPREHENSION that its more than just counting pills, and therefore want their prescription almost instantly. a few seconds might not only save a life, but save you from the patient who is about to “go postal”

Comment by PharmDlaugh on 2011-02-04 10:32:47 -0800 #

I certainly wouldn’t WANT to work under any of you bunch of overpaid bitching swine!
If it weren’t for PharmTechs, you bunch of hethens wouldn’t have TIME to come here and post your BS. The laws are about to change. You will HAVE to take an accredited program to be certified in the near future, and we’re not talking about a Walmart computer test. We’re talking a full accredited program, for which you will either be a part of, or be back at McDonald’s.
My CPhT’s are awesome! They enjoy busting their ass for me because I appreciate and RESPECT them! Try treating people like people! I wouldn’t wipe my ass with you scum!
A little appreciation for the people who take MOST of your responsibility away, so you can spend your time bulling around about your special PharmD’s would be a post worth reading. This is nothing but a bunch of whiny little pussies that mommy and daddy paid to go to Pharmacy school (if all of you are actually pharmacists…), just to get your bitchin asses out of their hair! Now you want to spew your spoiled brat bullshit on people who actually DO THE WORK FOR YOU!
Grow the hell up and get some balls. That will happen when you actually do something productive, (and hint: a blog isn’t it).

Comment by Evo on 2011-02-04 13:55:05 -0800 #

I really hate these vocational schools that are pumping out techs way more than there’s a demand for in my area claiming that there is a great demand for it (yeah like maybe 15 years ago). These school reps can be very convincing in getting you to enroll in their school. I signed up for more info from them out of curiosity, and they would call me nonstop, being very nice and friendly, and promising great career opportunities. They would almost say anything to get you signed up.

I got my tech license from passing the PTCB exam which I only studied a couple of days before from a book but still unable to find a job in the pharmacy for about 2 years. Jobs here are few, and the few openings available require minimum 1-2 years pharmacy experience as a requirement. Don’t forget about the surplus of unemployed experienced techs and newly licensed techs competing for the same job. I would call up hundreds of pharmacies for any opening within 50 miles. Then I got desperate and look for any volunteer position in the pharmacy to gain experience. Still no luck.

A lot of people that enroll in these tech programs have financial aid from the government. So they pay as low as $0 for books and tuition. Those that spend their own money for this, is just really dumb. A reasonable person would not put down $20k without first doing a little research on the career and job market for it.

Just imagine being down $20k, and can’t find a job anywhere in your area. So sad.

Comment by Ryan on 2011-02-09 18:04:32 -0800 #

Does anyone else think it’s complete bullshit that it takes 3 months for the California Pharmacy board to issue you a license?

Comment by terry on 2011-02-10 21:31:35 -0800 #

that’s just as bad as all the dumb pharmacist in california being churned out from these new “trade school” pharmacy schools better known as western & loma linda. i’ve spoken to some of these “pharmacist” & they are rude & dumb. what happened to professional courtesy to give your pharmacy info after you take a copy?? it’s also the law stupid ass. all these new pharmacy schools poop out all this trash. you know you western & loma linda grads. that’s not even a real school. you attended western & loma linda b/c you couldn’t get in to usc, uop or ucsf.

Comment by roundwhitetablet on 2011-02-12 12:14:28 -0800 #

PharmDlaugh, who are you and where did you get your awesome CPhTs?

My non-CPhT technician is not awesome. For my tech’s ability to properly label and fill tablets/capsules in the vial (or liquid in a bottle), on a scale from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), my tech gets a 3 (that is with a dispensing robot and a kirby lester 16 which requires scanning labels and bottles). Before the dispensing robot and kirby lester 16, her score was 1.5.

Now that is just in regards to putting tablets/capsules in vials and liquids in bottles. Imagine what her scores would be evaluating other aspects of the monster that is customer service. It is not good.

I only retain her because it’s the law to have any person preparing prescription orders (handling the medication specifically) to be licensed. Also, I have given up hope on finding any licensed technician that is minimally decent. This current tech has been at my store for the past 3 years. After the first year, she did not improve and should have been let go because of inability to perform at an acceptable level. I decided to keep her because I have no hope of finding decent techs.

Now I have had a few bright employees who have come through my store. They were so competent in every aspect of retail pharmacy. However, they were not techs. They did not plan to pursue a career as a pharmacy technician. After about a year or so, they stop working at my store because they got accepted in pharmacy schools. I had two different people during different times go on to pharmacy school. Things are awesome when they were at the store, but it is unbearable when they leave. Maybe I got spoiled with good performance.

This is what I have come to believe: there are good people and there are stupid/lazy/ambivalent people for every field of business and life. I have met a few good techs and a lot of idiotic ones. I have met some good pharmacists and quite a few PharmDodo birds.

Ever since managing this new independent pharmacy (opened 2007), I have had nothing but inadequate techs as well as clerks. I would absolutely be thrilled to have people who can perform at a decent level. When I say decent, I mean not bad, but not great. I would welcome decent to good. Sigh . . . I would settle for decent. I can’t expect good, because I fear I may be disappointed . . . again.

PharmDlaugh, I’m glad you have awesome CPhTs, but the rest of us are not so lucky. Maybe we should get your CPhTs to train the others.

Angry Pharmacist, I love the blog. Keep doing your thing.

P.S. Should I open a new store, my plan would be to eliminate the idiots and get a Parata Max. I saw a demo unit last year – it quickly counts, fills, labels, caps and collates each order into a bin corresponding to the first letter of the patient’s last name. You don’t have to correct the same thing several times each day either.

Comment by underappreciated on 2011-02-21 19:00:12 -0800 #

well finally someone gets it thank you very much wish my pharmacists could say that.

Comment by nervousNEWtech on 2011-03-28 02:16:40 -0700 #

Super funny and entertaining blog! Glad I stumbled upon it somehow. Got a few great laughs.

Just wanted to add to the conversation that I live in Orange County area (California) and I went to “North Orange County Community College District” better known as The School of Continuing Education in Anaheim which is a division of Fullerton and Cypress College. (If anyone is interest, their website is They offer Pharmacy Technician program FREE OF COST. You take 9 classes (Intro to Pharmacy Tech, Human Relations, Pharmaceutical Math, Pharmacology I, Pharmacology II, Pharmacy Operations Lab, Out-Patient Lab, and In-Patient Lab.Also you have to pass a pretty basic typing test) to complete the program which takes anywhere from 9 months to 2 years depending on fast you choose to complete it. It’s all completely free…but of course just pay for your books,parking, and time!

After all of those 9 classes, you can choose to do the In and Out Patient externships (total of 320 hours).

Before I completed this program, I NEVER knew you could just get hired at a retail pharmacy and get trained and then take the PCBT.I found this out when I had to do a project for my Intro to Pharmacy class when I visited my local pharmacy and interviewed a tech and thats when he told me all he did was take the test! I must say I did feel a little stupid but I would of felt MORE stupid if I actually paid for this program.

I must admit though, I spent the last year in this program (just finished my last semester last week and will be starting my interning this week) and I don’t regret the time I spent doing it. Besides learning the basic foundations of the job duties of a Pharmacy Tech, along the way I met more than a hand full of great people. 🙂

I am hoping that my interning experience will be a good one and also hope I don’t piss off my pharmacists that I will be working with! lol

Comment by Alice Moore on 2011-03-29 07:31:42 -0700 #

I took the PTCB exam back in 2008. I worked as a clerk at WalMart, no expensive college. Long story short received certification from studying a text book and paying $120; BUT still had a lot to learn(still do).

The way to licensing and certification should be through actual on the job training. You cannot get the skills from a text book. An exam coupled with documented hours should be the road to licensing and certification.

What is needed also depends on the environment. The job description for a Tech in a hospital will be different from a retail setting.

Comment by CdnPT on 2011-03-30 21:36:27 -0700 #

I’m a tech in Canada, and this post was pretty eye opening.
I did my training in a pilot program where the course was offered integrated with my high school courses. Due to a law in Alberta that prevents high school students from paying for university courses, I got my training free. I admit, I slacked, didn’t really pay enough attention in class. Once I started practicum though, I worked my ass off. I’m now one of two go-to techs when people have questions (including new/part time pharmacists!)
It’s unfortunate that so many of you seem to have useless technicians, and that California seems to have too many techs. Send a few of them up North, seems like every pharmacy here is hiring constantly.
Angry Pharmacist, keep up the blog. It’s awesome to read about someone in the same field as me!

Comment by PharmacyGirl on 2011-04-18 15:52:46 -0700 #

I kind of agree with CPhT. I must admit, I am a former pharmacy technitican instructor from a technical school in CA. At the time, I hated my retail job as my boss was a whiny, indecisive, superiority complex laden mental case of a pharmacy manager whose misakes I had to fix. She drove away customers by the handfuls because she couldn’t give people straight answers, mixed up their medications, she could not figure out some simple dose consolidations, Medi-Cal issues just about gave her a panic attack, and she could not answer this question: “Will this generic drug work just like the brand?”
I got a call from the school asking if I’d be interested in teaching and the timing was right, the pay was significantly more, and I was ready to flip out on my boss. Yes, I am guilty but I did fight really hard with admissions to quit promoting it as a widely available position. I made no false statements to my students, I told them the cruel reality of what they signed up for. I told them that they better work hard, impress the hell out of their externship site so they could get hired IF a job was available. All were taught to compound, make IVs, type Rxs, know basic common drug interactions and how the drugs/food interacted with other medications, medical terminology, medical abbreviations, IV flow rates, and the indications for about 500 or so different drugs. I did all this myself before becoming a tech and in retrospect, I would do it again because I am a drug/medical nerd and I loved learning about all things medical.

Comment by AL on 2011-04-19 22:47:57 -0700 #

Lol, wow. For one, I agree with the OP’s overall message, but we could have done without the insult which I thought took away from the point. If someone who is supposedly advising/helping me is calling me a worthless piece of shit at the same time, I wouldn’t even consider the advise to be valid. I have worked in pharmacy for about three years, started in my second semester of freshman year of college and was trained on the job by great pharmacist, pharmacy interns and techs! Because I am already in school, a science major and pre-medical student, I from the beginning didn’t believe in doing additional schooling or taking worthless courses for a “job” that I learned fairly quickly with the bit of training I was provided given I had no prior experience. I worked both in the retail and hospital pharmacy setting, yet found the retail setting to be more beneficial, despite the low pay, for one who is working for the experience. The hospital required me to take the easy PTCB just to do what I deemed mindless work. That’s not to say that it was insignificant work; it just didn’t require a certification.

Now in my experience with pharmacy, I’ve only truly noticed the arrogance and audacity some of these pharmacist have, thinking that they are so high and mighty. These pharmacist belittle the techs as if w/o them(the techs), the job would be any easier! Grow up! You applied to pharmacy school in order to become a pharmacist, so I assume you knew what the job entailed prior to submitting the app. If not, that’s YOUR fault. Granted everyday in any work field isn’t going to be flowery and peachy, but the mindset of some of these pharmacist just kills me! You are dealing with patients who I’m pretty sure do not want to be at the pharmacy to pick up drugs in the first place! No one I’ve met has ever told me, “Oh, I just can’t wait to go to the pharmacy to pick up my meds! I hope the pills have a different color this time! I like pink!!” Conversely, patients go to the pharmacy due to responsibility. Every situation is circumstantial, but as a health care “professional”, it’s your job to act accordingly. I get it: your license is on the line if you have incompetent or under experienced technicians, but guess what? An antonym for the word “problem” is “solution.” If you have problem techs, fix them. If they can’t be fixed, replace them. Some of these Pharmacist need to hop off of their pseudo-pedestals, stop acting like they’re the shit because they were able to memorize pharmacological processes for most of their studies, and act like the professionals they’re suppose to be. This is the real world with real people and real problems… Try pragmatically living in it.

(Edited Version) You have to love the prospective spell-check and grammar pricks! This is just a blog, not a dissertation!

Comment by Amy on 2011-04-23 21:22:43 -0700 #

I’ve made at least 3 of my externs cry so far. Looking forward to the next one.

Comment by Mrbulbous on 2011-04-24 08:23:47 -0700 #

Oh, technician trade schools. I could go on for days about them. I’ve been a tech now for 7 years and I had the misfortune of going to one of these schools. Of course it was a huge waste of time! Two good things came out of it though, I obtained two jobs (one where I met my wife who was working as a pharmacist intern at the time) and I received inside knowledge of these schools so I can help denounce them!

The main problem with these schools (I know, there are a lot of them) is that according to the commercials, one can make a lot of money being a technician. Bullshit. I’m sorry, but the $10/hr pay here in AZ is not enough to live off of if you have a family; unless one wants to live in the ghetto amongst most of our retail patients. Most of my fellow students thought they were to make $15/hr when they got out of their 9 month schooling. Wow. Doesn’t anybody do any research anymore? I looked at the US department of labor site and saw the median range of pay for techs, I knew what to expect; but, I’ve seen a lot of techs come to the real world and then turn tail and go back to construction or whatever quick, mindless, higher paying job they first started off with.

When a bright-eyed lad or lass come into my pharmacy and ask what it takes to become a technician, I tell them the truth. I believe that most of you should too; money is a great deterrent. Otherwise, you will just keep getting these moronic techs that don’t know brand-generic or can’t even convert mL to teaspoons.

Comment by quitingRX on 2011-05-23 21:13:38 -0700 #

I’ve now been a tech for over a decade, I have marijuana to think for that. But anyway what was my point, oh CPhT is the most worthless designation in the world. I have never been certified but I am now maxed out in my pay at a major hospital.

When I started in retail before the advent of CPhT, we didn’t hire techs. We DRAFTED them. Whenever a new cashier was hired and showed an average level of intelligence, we asked for her to work the pharmacy register. Then we would start doling out more tasks to her like putting away the order and counting. At some point she would be doing the job of a tech and management would just make her a tech and give her the higher pay. Thats the way it should be, thats the way good business works.

Now I work in a hospital and in this post-CPhT world there is just no good way to obtain new techs. The people who do the classes and become CPhT before setting foot on the job are generally arrogant morons.

There is no reason for techs to be learning about things like coagulation factors or serotonin syndrome. Yet thats what I see in course materials and CEs.

What needs to be understood here is the demographics of people who go to “pharmacy tech school.” They were probably listening to broadcast radio one day and got all pumped up thinking they could do this program and make enough money to kick their baby daddy out of their trailer home. I’m sorry thats so crude, but think about it. What other type of person would be moronic enough to think they could counsel a patient during their gd externship!

After a decade of doing this work, (I have returned to college 🙂 I can say this job is not a like being a baby pharmacist which seems to be the idea promoted in these phoney schools. But rather it is more you are the pharmacist’s executive secretary, you do their light work in other words. You will never UNDERSTAND what you are doing the way they do and you aren’t supposed to. You should respect and support their profession and stay within certain boundaries, that requires skills that are hard to quantify and certainly can’t be taught in some crappy pretend school.

Comment by PO’d in PS on 2011-07-19 15:32:51 -0700 #

Okay, so you guys all think you’ve got it bad? Get this. I went to a college of Pharmacy and got my degree, and took the NAPLEX after I graduated, and I passed the very first time. (I’m not saying that to brag, it’s just a fact.) I have been actively licensed in my home state, and in one other state since 1979, and there are two other states that I once had licenses in also, as I once resided and worked there as a Pharmacist in the past. I have since let those licenses lapse, since there’s little chance of my ever going back to those places again. However, since 1979, (that’s thirty two years for those of you who have been spoon fed on calculators, computers, and Baker cells), I practiced pharmacy without one single blemish to my record in any of those states, yet…why is it then, that I cannot practice Pharmacy here in the state of California, because they require us to take the NAPLEX all over again, in order to obtain our Pharmacist licenses here? I have satisfied all of their requirements, submitted all their paperwork, paid all their fees, given them my fingerprints, and I have even passed their CPJE, yet I STILL cannot practice my profession without passing a test that I have already passed, simply because it was taken prior to 2004.

For very personal reasons that I will not go into here now, I cannot leave this state, and I have been forced into unemployment for several years now. (hush up all you Smartasses out there before you start up now, no, my having done something illegal is not the reason why I must remain in this state, and yes I DID try taking the NAPLEX recently, and I missed it by 4 percentage points.

I’m getting back to my rant now, so listen up and get this, because here is the kicker! If I were to be so lucky as to live within close proximity of any Federal facility within California that has a pharmacy in it, then I would be allowed to practice Pharmacy within California, WITHOUT even having a California license, as long as I have one active license in any other state in the US. So then why is it legal for me to “play” Pharmacist at the Long Beach VA Hospital (just as an example), monitoring drug regimens for Patient X who is an inpatient there, yet it suddenly becomes illegal for me to monitor that same patient once he gets discharged back home?

Can someone please tell me the answer to the question, if I am competent enough to be doing it inside the walls of the VA Hospital, then what changes suddenly occur in my ability to be competent outside those walls? Where is the logic and reasoning that allows the California Pharmacy Board to get away with this?

As I just now stumbled upon this website, my deep appreciation goes to whoever it is that created it, so I could finally have a place to vent my pent up frustration and anger, and where people would actually understand what I am talking about, so thank you very much, and keep up this excellent work!

Comment by Jeffrey A on 2011-07-30 22:32:28 -0700 #

I went to a Pharmacy Tech school and I dont regret it. Why? Because I got in for free. I was in 11th grade when a man comes in to our classroom and offers the class for free to anyone who wanted to take it. Me and my 2 best friends go and get in the class for free. It worked well too because our pharmacy tech class started during the summer and into 12th grade. So everyday after lunch we would go to the place which was only 10 minutes away on car

It was great for us because it was taught like a real college class. This facility also taught you how to count tablets with those plates, had IV bags filled with water for us to practice with syringes, told us important reactions that we should be aware of just in case the pharmacists doesnt, important laws and consequences.

I honestly feel that I learned a lot by going to that school. I took that class because I just wanted to have a good job for when I went to college. After becoming a tech and working I actually decided that I wanted to be a pharmacist. Just got my BS in Chemistry and will take a year off and hopefully get into Pharmacy school next year. That’s my story.

Comment by Blue-Chan on 2011-09-05 05:41:49 -0700 #

PTCB, bitches. The one and only. I remember taking the test when it was still on paper, and then seeing ads everywhere for Pharmacy tech education. Trust me, it’s similar here in Connecticut as it is in California, and everywhere else. Worthwhile, accredited programs, and money-pit BS factories. And no, not BS for “Bachelor of Science”.

Plus, 20 credit-hours every two years feels less of a requirement and more of a vacation from retail hell.

Comment by B-Dizz on 2012-01-16 18:24:59 -0800 #

Some tech schools are not outragesouly expensive, im talking under 3 grand…and most people dont know all the laws and regulations about pharmacy because they werent informed by someone about all the options they could take to better themselves…im sure you ranting about how dumb they are doesnt help.

Comment by DepressedTech on 2012-06-15 08:12:41 -0700 #

This is really sad news to me.. I just graduated with an AA in Pharmacy Tech from a community college. I had wanted to switch majors some time ago, but the job security that entailed a healthcare program prevented me from doing so. During the externship, I found out how useless most of our education was. Medical Terminology, Federal and State Law, and Insurance billing should have been given more attention. I’m glad that we had IV practices though, because that was the only real thing that helped me during the externship. I feel like I wasted so much time on it, and the only redeeming factor is that I took enough transfer classes for a four year university, I just need my lower level transfer classes. I’m going to study accounting now, which should have been my first choice. I hated how they painted the program as something so grand and exciting. I know it’s a “noble” enough job, doing grunge work so the pharmacist can counsel patients. But the work and curriculum we had to go through was a bit too extensive. And it does not transfer as credit units to Pharmacy schools, I’ve checked. I mean it’s another ball game if the pharmacology classes I took were transferable to Pharmacy programs.. I wasted several years of my life struggling to get in classes since everyone seems to be vying for it. I’m reviewing for the CPhT now.. A job is still a job, and the hospital I externed in is interested in hiring me once I’m certified and licensed. The most depressing thing is when I checked the PTCB website and noticed that you don’t need an AA degree to actually apply. On the upside, the college I went to has a high employment rate. Most of the techs that graduate are hired by the extern sites they worked for. One thing I’m glad about my school is the extensive trade and generics they made us go through. That gives us a leg up the other vocational schools. The entry is kind of a black cloud over my head though, seeing as how the information, the testimonials here are true… Here’s to the future of this once bright eyed lass who wanted a chance at something..

Comment by Dina on 2012-06-18 11:12:11 -0700 #

Where do you live? You could hire me and I would guarantee I won’t let you down, unless you are certifiably insane. I don’t have any license, but I have 5 years of retail supervisory experience, I have 15 yrs mental health exp and 15 yrs caregiving experience (both of the previous were concurrent!) I can read a sig, I am extremely familiar with many classes of medications, espec Sched 2 and psychotropics..but also many others. I haven’t worked with meds in about 6 years though, so I do know new ones are on the mkt all the time.

I am very intelligent, and I have some background. If I buy course materials myself, and procure my own externship (assuming this can be done..I haven’t checked), What can a school offer me that I can’t do myself? Are there labs? Do you learn compounding and IV mixing, or is that more the domain of the pharmacist?
I want to be as specialized as possible, although I do know it is a retail job in many ways.
All the posts on this site make me very hesitant to go into this field…is there any positive feedback from anyone?
and to those who are criticizing writing skills, etc…I think the Angry Pharmacist sets the informal tone by writing “should of” for example, rather than “should have”. So maybe some do not have writing skills, but many probably think it’s a chat site, not a English test..just my opinion

Comment by Dina on 2012-06-18 11:13:54 -0700 #

Yours is my favorite post so far. Thanks for posting.

Comment by Susan on 2012-07-22 12:42:41 -0700 #

THANK YOU “PharmDlaugh” – i’ve been reading these posts and they having been blowing my mind. Im taking my PTCE July 30th, I did not go to a “pharmacy school” and pay thousands of dollars, but i did spend %1,000 for an on-line course so i can be prepared to take the exam. I passed the course in under 4 months, and took 2 month to study for the exam. All you “Pharmacist” started from the beginning somewhere, without any hands on training. What your doing is undermining and bullying the new externs who come to work for you without pay. You people probably yell at little children for making noise while playing, Why? becsuse you forgot when you were a child playing, same scenerio here, YOU FORGOT YOUR HUMBLE BEGINNINGS! I want to thank PharmDlaugh” for showing me that there are NICE, COMPASSIONATE EDUCATING PHARMIST still out there willing to embrace the new tech coming aboard without ridicule. And as far as “Theangrypharmasist” You are one truly angry dude and im sure it stems from your childhood. You’re obviously in the wrong line of business. Nasty people like you should work alone. Mow someones lawn or something! Like attracts like and all theee negative posts about Pharm Techs will not come into my experience!!! Ciao

Comment by CalicoCat on 2012-09-26 14:51:45 -0700 #

After reading your post and all of the comments, Your truely (the angrypharmacist). But some of the info was a little skewed.

Your premise that a person can just walk into a Pharmacy and get hired with just a GED without any training is wrong. Some states require license and certification in order to obtain work in a pharmacy. All training is needed whether from a School or (OJT) On the job training. To be licensed you must be trained. So those schools and training programs you mock abhor are in some cases required.

Secondly You cant just read a book and take the PTCB exam (if it was that easy) everyone would be a pharm tech. You must have a reasonable amount of understanding and familiarity with medical billing, terminology, pharmacy procedure and pharmaceuticals to pass it. And Passing the PTCE does not guarantee pharmacy employment but aids it.
The PTCB exam a $129.00 test was implemented only as a safeguard to test and prove how much technicians already knew and understood to prevent lawsuits and mistakes. It was the whole reason behind requiring techs getting PTCB certified in the first place.

I understand that Pharmacist take the brunt of responsibility for a technician’s mistakes (so you harbor anger on techs for that point).
But good Pharmacies that work well together, work as a team and respect each other. Working in this field both as military and as a civilian, we check egos at the door. We train well and work well together to ensure safety. Because ultimately, its the patient who suffers and pays the price for any mistakes not just our egos.

Comment by drc on 2012-09-28 11:24:17 -0700 #

As a recent tech school graduate I whole heartily agree with you with one exception(guess that makes it not so “whole heartily”). I would say that about 90% of the kids I attended/graduated with are useless. And I mean, USELESS!!! Most of these kids should not have been in the pharm tech program to begin with. They fell prey to the salesmen pitch of how they could go from barely making it out of high school to being the greatest pharm techs in the world! Idiots! I wouldn’t trust these kids to mix my vinegar and oil for my chefs salad! And they all received HONOR ROLL certificates every month.
So, yes, I do understand your hesitancy to hire tech school graduates. I wouldn’t hire most of us! So what makes me different than the 90%, and in the 10% group? How bout the fact that I knew when I was done with school that I was going to be “useless”. Still I applied myself, did all the required homework(while the rest of the students decided to try and get there hookups), turned off my phone, didn’t worry bout my fb updates, and went into my externship with my mouth shut, ears open, and readiness to work.
The problem is you as a hiring person don’t know which of the percent you are getting-the 90 who are useless or the 10 who actually can do job.
So, in summation, as with any type of schooling(self-taught, tech school, juco, or otherwise) one gets out of it what one puts into it. I am hoping my literacy, professionalism, strong work ethic will overcome the bias that I am up against.
Will update as time goes by.

Comment by JEH on 2012-09-28 11:35:15 -0700 #

I understand what you are talking about. And I can give you an Explanation to why this is. I’m a resent graduate from one of these schools. One of the things I saw during my tenure was that most of the students were sitting around talking about S@#! that should have stayed in high school. They don’t study any of the class work, they talk back to the instructors who have work in the field a lot longer and seen a lot more than they have in there, what, five years in their preadult life! It would anger me that here I am studying and working to make a living and they’er siting there like they are still in high school. to tell you the truth, it was Deja ve all over again. I was working as an EMT before I lost my job. But, even then, I was partnered with EMTs that where totaly uesless. It make me wonder what the state of the medical industry is going to look like in two years.

Comment by farmtekk on 2012-10-29 11:49:46 -0700 #

wanna know what makes me sick…is over worked RETAIL pharmacists (wishing they had a drink in the middle of the day) that wont give a student a chance. Knowing goddamn good and well they had to go hat in hand and intern the same way a student does. SOME SCHOOLS ARE NOT ALL ABOUT THE MONEY…I’m not gonna teach my students customer effing service or how to use a cash register. I bet none of the techs in your own pharmacy can even make a magic swizzle…I have watched those float around the pharmacy for days at a time duh!!! I AM SO HAPPY SOMEONE LET YOU INTERN…so you can preach how all tech students suck. WELL MINE DONT! Mine make bio identical hormone replacement troches for fun…they extern at places like UCSF or home infusion or anywhere they wont have to count by 5’s and get paid nothing. Just because you have never had a worthy tech doesn’t mean we aren’t out there…just means you dont pay us good enough. I can speak on behalf of alot of techs when I say…I wouldnt need to tug on your coat for the name of any generic drug.

grandfathered-in…went to tech school..PTCB advocate educator..ExCPT expert panel member …bad ass tech with 23 years experience

Comment by Navjot on 2012-12-17 21:24:48 -0800 #

This is great! I’m looking into going to graduate school for pharmacy and I’m finishing my bachelors this spring. Since I am taking a year off in between to study for my PCAT and wanting to gain experience, I have decided to take this test to get my license! Any suggestions on the best way to study for it? THANKS !!

Comment by Jessie on 2012-12-25 14:51:08 -0800 #

So I am interested in starting NPTA’s Official Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program. (online, self paced program) Does anyone know if this is a good program to use to get certified? It requires 120 extern hours which sounds like the best way to learn in the long run.
I also noticed that the board of pharmacy runs a criminal background check on applicants. A couple years ago I obtained a medical marijuana card in California. Will they be able to see this and deny my application based upon that?

Comment by Vanessa on 2013-01-25 10:44:45 -0800 #

Completely agree with you!!!!!! I got my license this way also. Worked as a pharmacy clerk for a year, got lessons by my fellow associated and went off to take the test and passed. I see all these people going to school and spending so much money to do what I do and I only paid about $200.

Comment by Ken Lawson on 2013-04-04 14:06:50 -0700 #

I was under the delusion one HAD to be licensed, certified by THEIR state or be grandfathered in to take the PTCB test. Wrong, anyway a private student loan can be discharged in chapter 7. ( Which I did). You don’t need Nat’l Certification to do simple arithmetic. You can make a better living doing almost anything. I happen to love pharmacy. I’ll work for free. Some people will give you the shirt off their back. I’m one of those people. Intelligence is a asset. Humility is a virtue.

Comment by Ken Lawson on 2013-04-05 03:38:39 -0700 #

True, nothing guarantees anybody any job. These ‘Post Secondary Technical Schools ‘ are for those unable to do rudimentary calculations, or have the extra dollars to purchase the certification for paying and getting a passing grade. If they pay the tuition, the instructor will give them a near useless way to get a state license. We know retail Techs make a unlivable wage. They work you relentlessly, with little chance for promotion. If you are a personable likable good natured individual with a BA in Business, you MAY get on with a pharmaceutical Co. As a Rep.

Comment by acanalin on 2013-04-17 01:32:22 -0700 #

This is actually the best thing i read about information on being a pharm tech in ca. i am now going to buy a book and study and take the ptcb test! thank you. And, thank you for making me laugh the whole time i was reading this 🙂

Comment by Janet on 2013-04-28 03:37:55 -0700 #

I agree, so do I have to enroll in the program to take the test and qualify for Pharm Tech License (California)? Or can I just study at home by getting a book or something and then take the test? I’m confused.

Comment by RoscoP on 2013-04-30 16:31:30 -0700 #

I recently looked into a CPhT license out here in Utah, I’m now convinced this state is in business with every tech school, within it’s boundaries. In Utah, you MUST take a class, whether through a certified pharmacy hosting the school, a college or university with a tech program, or a private tech program. I am no longer interested! I was recently asked by a customer in Van Nuys, CA, why I didn’t have my tech license. I told him it was because of the shitty rules and regulations in Utah. He told me how he obtained his license, and it was just like TAP said, cheap, easy, and this guy is a kick ass technician! Myself, being in pharmacy computers since 1994, I have had opportunity to witness the arrogance of many technician’s, who have wasted their $ on a “college” or “course” to be certified. I am in a lot of pharmacies, and I see it all. My opinion? The techs taking the initiative and doing it self study style, seem to the best techs, and hardest working… Generally speaking. Peace!

Comment by Ken Lawson on 2013-05-10 21:10:25 -0700 #

It is funny, in Utah. The CWP’s are good for 28 US States, except Calif.

Comment by Christa Olvera on 2013-07-19 13:19:23 -0700 #

Hi i live in San Antonio, Texas and going to be living in California soon. I have my Traniee Licence, but its only certified in Texas; but my question is since i know the math and drug uses/side affects and all that. Would it be no different then the Texas State Board test? Or would it be easier/harder?

Comment by Lisa on 2013-08-16 02:20:07 -0700 #

20K? The schools I know around here are only about $2500 out the door!

Comment by mark on 2013-08-23 09:39:14 -0700 #

damn man, you brought the hammer down on that scam. Thank You!!!! I was looking into pharmacy tech programs for my cousin. She was thinking of going to UCLA. The more I looked into it something sounded fishy. I noticed that CSULA, UCLA, CSU Dominguez Hills were offering certificate programs in Pharmacy Tech for about $1000. the programs boasted 50 hours coursework that allows people to sit for the state exam. I thought “50 hours sounds easy”. well, nothing is ever easy. A little more research and I came across your site and you provided more info and further reading. Again, Thanks. Sounds like the Pharmacy Tech racket is in full swing

Comment by Max on 2013-08-28 15:52:43 -0700 #

Wow, thank you so much for this.

Comment by Ken Lawson on 2013-10-13 20:29:29 -0700 #

Well, at one time, you could be a clerk or be grandfathered in. Not the case anymore. Many with MBA’s or other type technology jobs( not careers ) usually went on to pharmaceutical representative sales/co. Staff pseudo-similar pharmacy types with perfect hair and a decent sense of humor. Now a PharmD is the preferred credential. Long gone are the days of ” Fuller Brush” salespersons. Now the Gov’t mandates qualifications minimal to the tasks. Remember “samples” of controlled Rx’s? No more, or at least so rare that they shun the mere thought of giving a few Pt. Packs out. If you are in it for the long term, you can go to pharmacy school somewhere. They just make it that you must pass the state licensing exam within 3 times. Good luck. If 180,000 USD is enough per year, it will take 6-8 years to get your indebtedness within control. Go for it. If you can pass the pharmacy school entrance exam, you will succeed.

Comment by Ken Lawson on 2013-10-20 16:52:43 -0700 #

As a young man, I had quite a insatiable yearning to work in this important field of pharmaceuticals. I recall when the PDR was 1/2 as thick as it is now. I craved to somehow break though the impass of those few that were bent on not taking a chance on someone willing to work for only a lunch or just thanks. Before the international crisis, Even already far above the doubt of being a less than honest person! doubt still lingered. A retail pharmacy offed me a job as a tech. I didn’t have the license- she thought I did. I got tjHe damned thing, and she reneged. Her husband, a aeronautics engineer and a RPH, vetoed it. I worked like a demon for 8 hours a day as a armed guard at a large factory and 7-8 hours per day at the VA up in med-surg. The head honcho in the pharmacy could’nt bring himself to let me package a few Rx’s. After a month of working all over the hospital, when walking by, he would look down and take a detour. I could work as a trustworthy aide, however in the pharmacy? Uh, Well, all the other RPh’s thought I was a natural. No resentment though. I was well sought out all over the intensive care, the radiology Dept., Etc.,Etc., The head RN was astonished at my ” McGiver” approach of doing a improvised job with little or no contamination or consternation. It didn’t matter. I accomplished more than had I worked in the outdated pharmacy. That was a good learning experience many remember to this day.

Comment by Gx on 2013-10-22 23:05:56 -0700 #

I’m so thankful that I found this blog. It’s so helpful to know that it’s a waste of time and money to go through all these schooling and at the end you learn nothing out of it. I use to worked as a pharmacy clerk for 2 yrs at Rite aid and hoping that the pharm manager was going to get me the right training so I can be certified but instead I quit. I’m still in searching of how to get certified by the broad of ca, and now I’ve found my answer.

Comment by Jasper N. on 2013-10-25 18:33:15 -0700 #

I don’t like to take a shit in the pharmacy toilet.

Comment by kim lawson on 2013-10-28 16:32:55 -0700 #

If you are available and are willing, you will eventually find a way. You may have to work unusual hours and holidays though. You can worm in other sections and then transfer. Some independent pharmacies will allow you to come in and learn the types of questions you have particular difficulties.

Comment by Ken Lawson on 2013-11-02 19:39:26 -0700 #

For those dedicated individuals who are hell bent on going through with the modest pay and never ending mind triaging you will go into, I salute you. Much to endeavor. Much change to come. You must love your people and conquer Mt. Everest. You may complain and think this is a impossibility. It is NOT. Love your patients,and help them endlessly. They will see your honesty and that you are doing your utmost to help them help themselves. That’s where it’s at. To reflag ate the navigation to the direction that your good intended compass dodges the menaces to those unnavigable impasses in the way of helping your patients on their merry way, hopefully with a “thank you kindly”.

Comment by You have my attention on 2014-04-21 21:28:49 -0700 #

You know, After reading all this, I’m shocked. Ive been itching to get into this field for a while. I haven’t done it yet because, I dreaded going to some stupid school that claims “is the best in teaching everything you need to know” blah blah blah. I was never into the horrible DRONE of schooling. I like being taught face to face, with hands on. I always learned better that way. So go buy this crazy turd cutting book, study the thing (which isn’t hard for me to do), then hopefully find a pharmacy that can get me started.

As awesome as that sounds, and as much as I want to jump on that bandwagon, how many nice paying jobs now a days (that are not minimum wage) will be willing to take me in on just a GED? Willing to trust that I would be dedicated to learning and trust that I wouldn’t cry to a slap on the hand? You know, don’t hate me for feeling a little disheartened at the same time of hoping that this is really that easy.

As easy as,

getting this awesome book,
taking certification test,
finding internship.

please. enlighten me to this. because if its that easy, I’m going to Barnes and Noble tomorrow.

Comment by Edric Cho on 2014-05-17 18:02:18 -0700 #

I believe Texas requires the PTCB in order to practice in that state as a pharmacy technician. If you haven’t passed it, you will have to take the PTCE in CA. It’s all the same exam since it is a national certification.

Comment by gclaheh on 2014-06-11 07:56:13 -0700 #

I went to a pharm tech school program that was pretty cheap $400. I saw on the CA Board of Pharmacy website that I could get my state license if I took the PTCE. I took it and did extremely well on it. I told my instructor that I preferred applying on my own and not through the school. I only wanted to do this because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to complete the program (she kept threatening to kick me out of the program for various reasons). After she found out that I was applying for my state license on my own, she marched me over to the director’s office and insisted that I be removed from the program immediately. Now I have my CPHT and no externship. No pharmacy will allow me to do an externship because I am not with a school. My next move is asking pharmacies if they would hire me on as a cashier or clerk and allowing me to fill in as a tech.

Despite everything that happened, I do think that there is a use for these schools. Some people probably can’t pass the PTCE on their own, and they do need extra help. Also some students out of high school do need someone to remind them to be responsible.

If you want to go to these schools, do your research. Ask about the graduation rates for the program, if it is less than 50% find another school. The school that I attended, the graduation rate was a little over 50%. How many former students actually find jobs in the field that they studied? How long will it take to complete the course? If you can find a job without going to these schools, I would recommend that you do it.

Comment by gclaheh on 2014-06-11 08:24:25 -0700 #

To continue, a lot of people take these classes because they are desperate for work. I feel badly for them because these schools like the one that I attended tell people if they improve their skills with their school then they can find a job. The reality is that some of these schools don’t prepare them for a job, don’t teach them anything, find bogus ways for them not to complete the program, or prepare them for a job that they can’t ever get because they lack experience. It is really a buyer beware type of business.

Comment by Deborah Dunn, B.A., M.A. on 2014-10-13 05:40:12 -0700 #

Quite Frankly first of all I have a masters degree in health care admin and i was going to go to the N. Orange county certificate program, its actually free.

You need to curtail your curse words, you don’t seem professional at all when you cus every few minutes. Act like the prof you say you are with all your advice, sounds like some of your candidates were just a bit inexperienced or dumb. lol

In conclusion, having a good education behind you is always important. I know all about medications. thank you

Comment by Sandie on 2015-01-08 12:38:16 -0800 #

I’m one of the first 500 Technicians that were Grandfathered in back in 1994, I started working at Kaiser in 1979 right out of high school, I’ve done it all outpatient, inpatient, IV’s, compounding, Oncology, I LOVE it except when I get a extern, the Pharmacist give them to me because they will most likely kill them one of these days. There s a HUGE difference in the quality of Technician. I’m a DAMN good tech I love the adrenalin rush of a high volume pharmacy. But I’m not a Pharmacist, any Tech who feels they know more or there job is equal to a pharmacist doesn’t truly understand how each job works. That’s just ignorance. A Pharmacist is above you, you need to give them the respect they deserve.

Comment by Travis Stephens on 2015-02-18 15:58:04 -0800 #

I’m thinking of taking your advice and self-studying for the PTCB exam. A couple of the local libraries here in San Diego have study guides available for check out. I’m confident that with a rigorous course of independent study, I could pass the exam.I meet the higher education requirements for licensing in California since I am a high school graduate.With a clean record,except for a couple jaywalking tickets, I’m certain my fingerprint check won’t be an issue.My question is: what do I do about work experience and actual hands on training ? I could study for the PTCB exam & obtain licensing, but what good is a certification and licensing without hands on experience? I asked about volunteering at a local retail pharmacy after obtaining PT certification and licensing & the clerk mentioned something about it being a violation of HIPPA laws or something.I think the University of California San Diego hospital has volunteer opportunities for college students who may be interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy, but I don’t know if that program is available to community college students which I happen to be. Angry Pharmacist, I was wondering if you could help me with any suggestions about how to get the hands on experience to go with the theoretical part ? By the way, even before reading your article I was suspicious of for profit schools. I went down to a local technical college some years back and took an aptitude test to see if I even qualified for the PT training program. I passed it and was promptly ushered back to financial aid where I was told that I would still be on the hook for a substantial amount in loans even after an automatic grant that wiped out part of the cost. Needless to say, I politely declined since I’m not a dam fool (sorry for the outburst, I allow myself one annually). Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.

Comment by tdog on 2015-02-27 07:23:26 -0800 #

Okay folks – this is the god honest truth…IF YOU WANT TO BECOME A PHARMACY TECH IN RETAIL FIELD: SIMPLY GO TO THAT DRUGS STORE WEBSITE–APPLY ONLINE—we will train you and we will help you and pay for your required state and or PTCB national license. APPLY NOW –CALL AND CHECK IN A WEEK– we all cannot find enough applicants in retail world. Yes you will be required to work evening and weekends — accept that fact and you have a 90% chance of being hired!

Comment by Ari on 2017-10-03 19:29:57 -0700 #

As a CPhT who has worked in a CA pharmacy since 2007, started out as just a clerk before studying on my own and clocking the required On-The-Job (OTJ) hours before passing the PTCB, I completely agree and I get asked by friends how I like it and if it’s worth them going to school for. The ONLY thing, I feel inadequate on because I work in a retail pharmacy, is compounding — A necessary component to be able to make almost double working in a hospital. And I’m currently trying to figure how how to do so because I’d love to do so and not have to be a messenger for insurance companies (another component that no classroom can teach) anymore. So, TAP, if you have any suggestions on ways to go from a PTCB-taker/OTJ-learner to gaining compounding knowledge without the expensive school, I’m all ears.

Comment by Ariel on 2017-11-16 10:48:05 -0800 #

I don’t have an angry reply lol I am about to start school for the pharmacy tech program and is totally free in my area so I am content (:

Comment by LISA on 2018-01-11 13:34:01 -0800 #

I was mulling over for a year if this was right path for me to do. I had a friend who bought the book and dropped the idea of becoming pharm tech. He showed me the book and I was overwhelmed by it, but I know it takes money to go to school to be trained.

I went to Adult Schools who offer the program for $2999 for the program. The fees does not include your books, uniforms, license applications, etc. This is a 3 month program plus 120 hours of externship. The problem is that some school like the school I went to have a hard time finding a place for me to extern. Luckily, before the end of my 3 months that I passed my PTCB exam and got my certification at the end of the theory. I was able to apply for my state license in CA.

A month after the end of my theory, still no externship place for me. My license is gonna get released in 2 weeks and I am certified and license without any experience in the pharmacy. Sucks. What to do next? I applied to over 20 places and not one call for an interview even after becoming CPhT.

Comment by Tori on 2019-11-14 23:04:02 -0800 #

I regretted going to pharmacy tech program in Virginia . It costs $750 back in 2008. I paid ptcb. Its been years and couldn’t get a job in the field. Job requires experiences. Employers discriminates against black people. Worst ptcb return my recertication application . I renew ptcb recertification for years without a program. Stupid pharm tech I went to didn’t have a intern. This is 2019, schools are charging over 10k. Pharm tech schools need to be gone. All these schools do it stick students with debt. Student don’t have jobs in that field.