Free & Cheapest Pharmacy Technician Programs (Online & In-Person)

Pharmacy technicians are essential to a well-functioning pharmacy. Retail pharmacies and hospitals need pharmacy technicians to help keep medications organized, help patients fill prescription medications, and handle billing and insurance. 

Before you start working as a pharmacy technician, you will want to get your certification. Most states require pharmacy technicians to earn their certification. Even if you live in a state that doesn't strictly require certification, your chances of finding a job are much higher if you are certified. 

To get your pharmacy technician certification, you can complete a certificate program or earn an associate degree. The cost of pharmacy technician training programs varies greatly depending on the type of program you choose, its location, length, and whether it is in person or online. There are also some free pharmacy technician certification classes offered by organizations like Walgreens and CVS.

This guide goes over the cheapest pharmacy technician programs currently available, including both online and in-person options. 

Free & Cheapest Pharmacy Technician Programs

Pharmacy technician training programs are available online, through community colleges, and in large universities. Most online programs offer a certificate only and many universities offer pharmacy technician associate degree programs. 

Associate degree programs are much longer and much more expensive than certificate programs, and most employers don’t expect pharmacy technicians to get their degrees. 

Here are some free and affordable options that can help you get your pharmacy technician certification

Stepful

Here at Stepful, we offer a 4-month online pharmacy technician certification program that only costs $1,999. We also have a payment plan that allows you to pay $249 every 2 weeks for a total of 8 payments. Certain applicants may also qualify for a $550 scholarship.

Our program comes with an in-person externship at a location convenient to you, a 100% money back guarantee, and career coaching.

We prepare you for the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) exam from the Pharmacy Technician Certified Board (PTCB). The PTCB is the industry's most trusted credentialing organization and recognizes Stepful as an approved training program for it.

  • Cost: Free or paid internship
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 4 months
  • Resulting certificate: CPhT from the PTCB
  • Learn more: Stepful's Pharmacy Technician Program
  • Notes: Our graduates have a 85% certification rate and 80% placement rate. We'll help you find a job after completing our program and getting your certification.

Walgreens University 

Walgreens University is a program designed to help people advance their careers in healthcare. They have schools for operations, beauty, leadership, and pharmacy. 

Their pharmacy tech program includes classes, test prep materials, and continuing education courses. 

Walgreens also offers an “earn while you learn” position for pharmacy technicians. This allows future pharmacy technicians to be paid for their work as a pharmacy technician trainee while they complete their training.

  • Cost: Free or paid internship
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 4 months
  • Resulting certificate: PTCB or ExCPT
  • Learn more: Walgreens University
  • Notes: You will have externship opportunities at Walgreens during your training period. When you complete your coursework, Walgreens University will cover the cost of your exam. You can earn up to 10 college credits when you complete the program. 

CVS LearnRX 

If you think you might want to work for CVS, you can register to access their accredited LearnRX program. This is a self-guided program that gives you study materials to prepare for the PTCB exam. 

  • Cost: Free
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 4 months
  • Resulting certificate: PTCB Certificate
  • Learn more: CVS LearnRX
  • Notes: CVS LearnRX is free for pharmacy technicians planning to work at CVS. CVS will also pay your first exam fee. You will have the opportunity to shadow pharmacy technicians throughout the program. 

Phlebotomy Career Training

Phlebotomy Career Training offers training programs for phlebotomists, patient care technicians, ECG technicians, and pharmacy technicians. While they do have some in-person courses available, their pharmacy technician course is only available online. 

This program is completely self-paced and can be completed in as little as 5 weeks. You must complete all coursework within 6 months of starting the program. 

  • Cost: $585
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 5 weeks to 6 months (self-paced)
  • Resulting certificate: PTCB or ExCPT
  • Learn more: Phlebotomy Career Training
  • Notes: You will receive one voucher to cover the cost of either the PTCB or ExCPT exam when you complete your coursework. 

Ashworth College

Ashworth College offers everything from certificate programs to bachelor's degrees. They are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

  • Cost: $1,299 when paid in advance, $1,699 when split into monthly payments
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Diploma and Certificate
  • Time to complete: 5 weeks to 1 year (self-paced) 
  • Resulting certificate: PTCB or ExCPT
  • Learn more: Ashworth College
  • Notes: Ashworth College provides externship opportunities in Walgreens and CVS stores. 

Penn Foster ($1,199 to $1,399)

The pharmacy technician training program at Penn Foster includes interactive lessons and online simulations to help you feel comfortable when you start working as a real-world pharmacy technician. 

Penn Foster pharmacy technician courses include pharmacology, pharmacy law and regulations, and calculations for pharmacy technology. 

  • Cost: $1,199
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Diploma and Certificate
  • Time to complete: 11 to 17 months
  • Resulting Certificate: PTCB or ExCPT
  • Learn more: Penn Foster
  • Notes: Penn Foster includes a 130-hour externship as part of their program. Students must pass a drug screen and background check and have at least a C grade to be eligible for their externship.

U.S. Career Institute 

The U.S. Career Institute designs its programs for busy adults who want to get an education and advance their careers. In addition to their certificate programs, they offer a career coach program that will help you build a resume, improve your interview skills, and find a job that is a good fit for you.

  • Cost: $979 when paid in full, $1,279 if broken into monthly payments
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 4 months
  • Resulting certificate: PTCB or ExCPT
  • Learn more: U.S. Career Institute
  • Notes: U.S. Career Institute will reimburse you for your exam fees. They also offer a discount for active military members and their spouses. 

University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee has the highest-ranked pharmacy program in the state. They offer a pharmacy technician training program that includes 160 hours of coursework and can be completed at your own pace.

  • Cost: $1,800
  • Location: Online
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 4 to 6 months
  • Resulting certificate: PTCE, ExCPT, or CSPT
  • Learn more: University of Tennessee 
  • Notes: The pharmacy tech training program at the University of Tennessee is 100% online and does not include an externship. 

Community College of Philadelphia ($1,299 to $1,525)

The Community College of Philadelphia offers an in-person pharmacy technician training program with many different scheduling options including night and weekend courses to accommodate busy schedules. 

You can choose to attend the once-a-week course for 12 weeks or the accelerated 2-per week course for 8 weeks. 

  • Cost: $1,525
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA 
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 2 - 4 months
  • Resulting certificate: PTCB or ExCPT
  • Learn more: Community College of Philadelphia
  • Notes: The Community College of Philadelphia has partnered with Walgreens to offer externship opportunities for its students. You must pass a criminal background check before starting your externship. 

San Francisco University

San Fransisco University offers either an online or a hybrid pharmacy technician training program  The hybrid program includes 54 hours of in-class learning, requiring you to come to class 2 days per week. 

  • Cost: $1,399
  • Location: Online or on campus in San Fransisco, Ca
  • Type of program: Certificate
  • Time to complete: 2 months
  • Resulting certificate: PTCB
  • Learn more: San Fransisco University
  • Notes: San Fransisco University includes 80 hours of externship work for their pharmacy technician students.

Salt Lake Community College

Salt Lake Community College is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the American Council of Pharmaceutical Education. They offer a 600-hour, in-person course that can be completed in either 9 or 12 weeks, depending on if you choose part-time or full-time study.

  • Cost: $1,740
  • Location: Salt Lake City, Ut
  • Type of program: Certificate and License
  • Time to complete: 9 to 12 weeks
  • Resulting certificate: PBCT and Utah Pharmacy Technician License 
  • Learn more: Salt Lake Community College
  • Notes: Salt Lake Community College includes a 200-hour externship in its program. Students must pass a background check, have current immunizations, and get their CPR certification before starting their externship. 

How to Choose a Pharmacy Technician Program

With so many different pharmacy technician training programs to choose from, it can feel overwhelming to make a decision about which program to attend. There are a few things you should consider when selecting a training program. 

Cost

Always consider cost when choosing a training program. More expensive programs are not necessarily better. As long as the program is accredited and has a good certification passing rate, you can feel good about choosing a cheaper training program. If you're considering a free pharmacy technician certification program, make sure to check if there are any requirements (such as working at the company for a certain amount of time) or an obligation to work for the company after completing the program.

Time to Complete

Some pharmacy technician programs can be completed in just a few weeks, while associate degree programs can last up to two years. Choosing a shorter program—typically around 4 months—will help you get into the workforce more quickly so you can start earning an income. 

Keep in mind that accelerated programs will require a lot of work and study packed into a few short weeks. If you choose an extremely short program—such as 6 weeks—you may have to temporarily stop working and ask for help with family responsibilities so that you can focus more of your attention on your training program. 

Certification Pass Rate

The reason most people attend a pharmacy technician training program is to earn their certification. You cannot earn your certification without passing a certification exam. Before you register for a program, find out how many of their students pass their exams. 

If certification pass rates are low, you’ll want to look into a different program. 

Resulting Certificate

There are several different types of certificates you can earn as a phlebotomy technician. If your state or job has a specific requirement, make sure that your training program will prepare you for the right certificate. 

Most certifications are accepted nationwide and by all healthcare facilities. 

If It’s Accredited

Make sure you choose an accredited pharmacy technician training program. Many certifying agencies will not allow you to take their exam unless you have attended an accredited program. 

In addition, accredited programs are more likely to give you a high-quality education and provide you with all of the tools and information you need to be a successful pharmacy technician. 

Online vs In-Person

Consider your learning style and schedule needs when choosing between an online or an in-person program. 

Online certification programs offer flexibility and can be completed from the comfort of your own home. However, they require a lot of self-discipline and a lot of independent learning. 

In-person classes are best for people who learn better in a classroom environment, or who have trouble with procrastination. 

Location (if In-Person)

If you choose an in-person program, consider commute time and travel costs when selecting a specific school. Paying a few hundred dollars less for a program might not be worth a longer commute. 

If an Externship is Included

Pharmacy technician externships are opportunities to practice the skills you learn in a real-life setting. It is especially important for online programs to include an externship. Good online programs will help you find a pharmacy near you and help you get in touch with a working pharmacy technician to work with. 

If There’s a Job Placement Guarantee

Earning your certification is a great first step on your way to becoming a pharmacy technician. However, some people have difficulties finding a job after they finish training. Programs that offer a job placement guarantee will help you find employment after you graduate, or give you your money back. 

Pharmacy Technician Program FAQs

Are cheap pharmacy technician programs a good idea? Cheap pharmacy technician programs are a great idea. As long as they are accredited, you can count on a less expensive pharmacy technician training program to help you prepare for your certification exam and future pharmacy technician job. 

What is the average cost of a pharmacy technician certificate program? Most pharmacy technician certificate programs cost between $1,000 and $1,500. 

What is the average cost of a pharmacy technician degree program? The cost of pharmacy technician associate degree programs varies greatly. Most pharmacy technician degree programs cost between $7,000 and $10,000. 

Are pharmacy technician scholarships available? Yes! You can see pharmacy technician scholarships that are currently available here.

Is a pharmacy technician degree or certificate program better? Certificate programs are less time-consuming and less expensive than degree programs. While an associate degree may sound impressive, most employers only care about certification. 

What is the shortest pharmacy technician program? The programs at both Ashworth College and Phlebotomy Career Training can be completed in as little as 5 weeks. Most pharmacy technician programs take around 12 weeks to complete.

Are pharmacy technician programs hard? While you will have to commit some time to study, pharmacy technician programs are not very hard. As long as you show up to class and pay attention, you should be able to complete a training program and pass your exam. 

What is the shortest possible time to become a pharmacy technician? Some states have no certification requirements for pharmacy technicians, meaning you could start applying for jobs right away. Most states, however, do require pharmacy technicians to complete a training course and pass a certification exam. In these states, you can complete an online program and pass your certification exam in as little as 5 weeks. Learn more in our guide to pharmacy technician requirements.

Are online or in-person pharmacy technician programs better? Neither online nor in-person pharmacy technician programs are necessarily better than the other. Online certification programs are better for people who need flexibility, while in-person programs are better for people who appreciate strict structure and face-to-face learning. 

How much do pharmacy technicians make? Pharmacy technicians earn around $37,700 per year. This varies based on experience, location, and certification. 

Your new Medical Assistant career starts here

Get a healthcare job or your tuition is on us.
By clicking “Apply Now” you agree to receive text, email, and phone marketing messages. Reply “STOP” to cancel.

Spots are limited. We accept qualified applicants on a first come, first served basis.

  • 4 month online medical assistant program

  • Receive your medical assistant certification

  • Tuition comes with 100% money back guarantee

  • Morning or evening classes

  • 100% online followed by in-person externship

  • Job coaching services

Your new Pharmacy Technician career starts here

Get a healthcare job or your tuition is on us.
By clicking “Apply Now” you agree to receive text, email, and phone marketing messages. Reply “STOP” to cancel.

Spots are limited. We accept qualified applicants on a first come, first served basis.

  • 4-month online pharmacy technician program

  • Earn your pharmacy technician certification

  • Tuition comes with 100% money back guarantee

  • Evening classes available

  • 100% online followed by in-person externship

  • Job coaching services

Become a Certified Phlebotomist Tech

Get your NHA Certification in just 4 weeks
By clicking “Apply Now” you agree to receive text, email, and phone marketing messages. Reply “STOP” to cancel.
Spots are limited. We accept qualified applicants on a first come, first served basis.
  • 4-week phlebotomy training program
  • NHA certification prep
  • Evening classes available
  • 100% online
  • Affordable, flexible, learning