How to Become a Pharmacy Technician in California

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Working in the healthcare industry can be a very rewarding career.

More specifically, working as a pharmacy technician may be a rewarding job for candidates who enjoy helping others, have excellent attention-to-detail skills, good time-management skills, and grasp concepts rather quickly.

There is a specific process in order to qualify as a pharmacy technician and each state has its own requirements.

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Licensing Requirements to Become a Pharmacy Technician in California

Candidates who wish to work as a pharmacy technician in the state of California must meet the requirements under the Business and Professions Code section 4202.

The state does NOT have an examination to obtain a license.

If students meet the minimum requirements, as set out by the California State Board of Pharmacy, then students are eligible to work as a pharmacy technician in the state.

Licenses are issued by the California State Board of Pharmacy.

And, to obtain licensure, candidates must follow a specific process. Licenses must be renewed every two years.

The current cost of the license is $195.

The process starts with attending an accredited pharmacy technician program that is approved by the California State Board of Pharmacy.

Candidates have to complete a set amount of hands-on training through an internship/externship and complete/submit a formal application form to the California State Board of Pharmacy.

In addition, all candidates must pass a criminal background check.

Candidates can do a license search to ensure that their license has been processed and issued.

5 Pharmacy Technician Schools in California

1. Foothill College – Los Altos Hills

The school offers two pharmacy technician programs.

The first is a certificate course which may be completed in nine months.

This program is offered from fall every year.

The second is an Associate of Applied Science Pharmacy Technician, which may be completed in two years or four semesters.

foothill college

These programs are ASHP/ACPE accredited.

The certificate program only accepts 35 students each year and the approximate course fees are $1,900.

Upon successful completion of these courses, students are awarded a Certificate of Program Completion.

Students are eligible to apply to the California State Board of Pharmacy as pharmacy technicians as well as be eligible for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).

The associate degree course is a combination of general studies and pharmacy-related courses.

Students are able to transfer to a four-year degree from this course.

2. Santa Ana College – Santa Ana

This school offers a Pharmacy Technician Certificate course which may be completed in as little as one year and an Associate degree course which may be completed in two to four years.

Both courses are ASHP accredited.

Santa Ana College

The program starts in fall, spring, and summer.

During the spring and fall intake,  day, evening, and hybrid classes are available.

During the summer intake, only evening classes are available.

Course work is a combination of theory, lab work, and externship.

The 120-hour mandatory externship takes place in a hospital outpatient setting, a retail setting, and a home infusion/sterile products pharmacy setting.

Some sites require that students complete a mandatory background and health screening.

In-state students will pay approximately $48 per credit unit for this course.

3. Pima Medical Institute – Chula Vista

Prima Medical Institute offers a certificate and associate degree program that are both nationally recognized and state licensed.

The program prepares students to sit for the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination.


The certificate program may be completed in nine to 12 months, while the associate degree program may be completed in two years.

All pharmacy technician programs at this school are ASHP accredited.

The certificate course is offered in a hybrid method.

Coursework is a combination of theory, lab work, and externship.

Tuition for this course is $12,975 for the nine-month certificate course.

4. Charles A Jones Career and Education Center – Sacramento

Charles A Jones Career and Education Center offers a 36-week, 1080-hour certificate course that is accredited by the ASHP.

Students are able to complete the course in nine to 12 months.

Classes are from Monday through Friday for 6.5 hours per day.CAJ logo

The program includes lab work and a 120-hour externship where students are able to apply what they have learned.

Course work includes a range of topics, such as customer service, pharmacy math, and pharmacology, as well as medical insurance for pharmacy technicians.

Tuition and fees for the course are $10,620.00.

5. Cerritos College – Norwalk

The school offers an ASHP accredited 32-credit certificate program and a 60-credit associate degree program.


The programs start in the spring and fall.

The certificate program may be completed in three to four semesters.

Upon successful completion of the program, students are eligible to apply for their Pharmacy Technician License.

Students use PioneerRx, industry-leading software, that allows them to experience real-world work scenarios.

The program comprises lab work, theory, and an externship.

Tuition for the certificate program ranges between $1207.50 to $1700.00.

Pharmacy Technician Schools in California- Summary Table

Top 5 Schools in California

School NameAddress
Foothill College - Los Altos Hills12345 El Monte Rd, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
Santa Ana College - Santa Ana1530 W 17th St, Santa Ana, CA 92706
Pima Medical Institute - Chula Vista780 Bay Blvd, Chula Vista, CA 91910
Charles A Jones Career and Education Center - Sacramento5451 Lemon Hill Ave, Sacramento, CA 95824
Cerritos College - Norwalk11110 Alondra Blvd, Norwalk, CA 90650

Pharmacy Technician Salary in California

Students may expect to earn an entry-level salary of $33,767.

Mid-level salaries go up to $41,600 and experienced candidates earn $50,770 per year.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Pharmacy Technicians in California

City NameSalary
Los Angeles$42,100
San Diego$40,200
San Jose$46,800
San Francisco$46,600
Long Beach$41,500
Santa Ana$41,600
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in California

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA850$47,040$22.62$65,110$33,870
Chico, CA240$50,990$24.51$70,070$35,390
El Centro, CA140$44,390$21.34$55,040$35,490
Fresno, CA1,010$48,240$23.19$68,740$35,670
Hanford-Corcoran, CA140$47,010$22.6$55,040$36,230
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA14,230$50,490$24.28$72,590$37,320
Madera, CA130$49,850$23.97$63,170$36,550
Merced, CA180$43,900$21.11$56,850$34,870
Modesto, CA510$50,410$24.24$72,250$36,540
Napa, CA120$59,540$28.62$77,840$40,420
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA740$49,270$23.69$71,280$36,440
Redding, CA190$50,040$24.06$72,050$35,440
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA4,200$48,310$23.22$65,150$36,240
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA2,590$53,650$25.8$77,870$34,450
Salinas, CA350$49,450$23.77$60,990$37,270
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA3,200$50,780$24.42$73,110$36,820
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA4,130$62,140$29.87$82,820$44,570
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA1,750$61,570$29.6$83,690$42,490
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA260$48,760$23.44$65,330$36,170
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA250$50,570$24.31$75,700$37,050
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA400$50,550$24.3$65,100$36,200
Santa Rosa, CA380$57,620$27.7$81,280$38,760
Stockton-Lodi, CA660$51,810$24.91$79,860$36,700
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA450$57,840$27.81$81,430$37,610
Visalia-Porterville, CA410$46,180$22.2$59,500$35,630
Yuba City, CA170$48,050$23.1$63,680$36,430
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Pharmacy Technicians, OCC Code 29-2052, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a certificate without going to school?

Yes. You can apply to the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) but will require a set amount of training prior to your application.

Is being a pharmacy tech hard?

Yes. This role is challenging and there are a lot of responsibilities that a pharmacy technician must master.

Is it better to become a pharmacy technician before becoming a pharmacist?

In many cases, candidates who first study to become a pharmacy technician are more equipped for the role of a pharmacist when they do make the transition.

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