Pharmacy Technician Programs in the San Francisco Bay Area

Demand for pharmacy technicians have soared over the past few years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technician employment will grow by 4% from 2019 to 2029. As of 2019, there were 422,300 pharmacy technicians in the United States.

Pharmacy technicians play a crucial role between pharmacists and patients. They do most of the jobs traditionally done by pharmacists. A pharmacy technician assists with preparing medication for patients, verifying prescriptions, pricing and filing prescriptions, and much more.

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California Pharmacy Technician Requirements

You don’t need certification to work as a pharmacy technician in California, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get one from the PTCB. Many employers prefer candidates with a certification. Do not confuse a certificate with certification. While certificates can be obtained from hundreds of schools and have less stringent requirements, they offer less advantage compared to a certification, which is typically offered by an authorized third-party. 

However, to be a pharmacy technician in California, you need a license. And below are the requirements to get one:

  • Have a high school diploma, GED or similar qualifications
  • Have at least one of the following educational qualifications: An associate's degree in pharmacy technology, any other course that provides a minimum of 240 hours of instruction as required, a training course accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP); or graduation from a school of pharmacy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
  • If certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), you must submit a certified true copy of your PTCB certificate or the original certificate with your application.
  • If qualified by training provided by a branch of the federal armed services, you must submit a copy of your DD214 documenting evidence of your pharmacy technician training with your application
  • Must apply in writing to the California State Board of Pharmacy requesting for the license
  • Pass both state and federal criminal background check
  • Include a maximum of six months old passport type photo
  • $80 registration fee

All the above requirements will go together with your application form.

Reference links:

  • California State Board of Pharmacy:

Pharmacy Tech Salary and Job Outlook in the San Francisco Bay Area

The prospect of employment in California for pharmacy technicians is very promising compared to other states. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, California is one of five states with the highest employment level for pharmacy technicians. As of May 2019 there were 36,560 pharmacy tech employees in California, second only to Texas, with 38,550.

On the other hand, California has the highest annual mean wage for pharmacy technicians in the United States – at $45,200, and also the highest hourly rate of $21.73. It even gets better than that. The average earnings of pharmacy technicians in San Francisco is even higher than the average for California. 

The national average earning for pharmacy technicians is $33,950, significantly lower than the California state average.

10% of workers in San Francisco earn $33,640 or less, compared to the country's 10% who earn $24,120 or less. Again, 10% of workers in San Francisco earn $75,550 or more against America’s 10% receiving 49,130 or more. In California, 10% of workers earn $29,970 or less, and another 10% receives a total of at least $65,150 annually. The wages for pharmacy technicians in San Francisco, being higher than both the state and national averages, puts the city among the most attractive for a pharmacy technician job.

Here is 2019 wage data for pharmacy technicians in the SF bay area. 



San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward




San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara




Santa Rosa


Pharmacy Technician Schools in San Francisco Bay Area

There are many schools in SF bay area from where you can train to become a pharmacy technician. This article presents a brief description of the courses each school offer. All are pharmacy technician programs.

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Carrington College [Pleasant Hill & San Leandro Campus]

? 380 Civic Dr #300, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 |☎ (925) 273-3922

Carrington College' Pharmacy Technology Certificate course is offered in many locations including Sacramento, San Jose, Pleasant Hill and San Leandro and takes approx. 36 weeks to complete (not including breaks).

It is designed to assist students who want to learn the skill of pharmacy technician to achieve such goals with ease and also prepares them to sit the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) national certification exam.  Students will learn both theory and practical skills to function as entry-level assistants to licensed pharmacists. 

Here is a sample of the technical courses students will have to complete as part of the certificate program:

  • Nervous System, Anti-Infectives and Retail Operations Theory (3.5 credit hours)
  • Retail Operations Lab (2.5 credit hours)
  • Prescription Processing, Pharmacy Software and Pharmacy Calculations Theory (3.5 credit hours)
  • Externship (4 credit hours)

Total lecture hours for the certificate is 375, total lab hours 225, practical hours 240 and credit hours are 36.

Classes are primarily classroom based and held on a full-time M-F basis.

Graduates of the Certificate of Achievement program who reside within the State of California are eligible to complete the Associate of Science degree program via the online degree-completion option. 

Tuition cost for the Pharmacy Technology Certificate is $18,956.00. For those who qualify traditional Federal and State financial aid is available, as are a limited number of local state employment grants.

Bay Area Medical Academy [San Francisco]

? 530 Bush St. Suite 201 San Francisco, CA 94108 |☎ (415) 217-0077

BAMA's undergraduate certificate in Pharmacy Technician offered at both San Francisco and San Jose equips you with the knowledge and skill you need to be a successful entry-level pharmacy technician in a wide range of settings, including retail and hospital pharmacy.You'll also be ready for any certification examination like the PTCB.

You learn to handle orders from customers and health professionals, prepare medications by counting, measuring or mixing. You'll also be able to stock, package and label medications, process insurance, and much more. 

The schedule for the program is Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 2:30 pm at the BAMA San Francisco campus and takes approx 33 weeks to complete

The program spans 600 hours of lecture and hands-on experience, and another 240 hours’ clinical externship. You'll pay $10,500 as tuition, then there are other fees that brings the total cost to $11,049.

Upon graduation, students can take up employment in various settings: 

  • Mail order and internet pharmacies
  • Hospital, nursing homes and retail pharmacies
  • Infusion pharmacies, assisted living facilities and more.

This program meets licensure requirements in California. According to the BAMA's website, 81% of program graduates got jobs in the medical field. 

Foothill College

? 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022 |☎ 650.949.7325

The Foothill College full-time certificate program to train pharmacy technicians spans a nine-month sequence of instructions and costs approximately $2,000. There will be a certificate award in the end for successful students, and these automatically qualify for the California State Board of Pharmacy registration. Graduates will also qualify to take certification exams like the PTCB and apply for registration. 

The program is a ASHP/ACPE nationally accredited program. All classes are during the day and are usually scheduled between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. depending on the quarter.

Aside from the certificate program, there is a 2-year expanded program that delves into general education and leads to an Associate in Science Degree in Pharmacy Technician. Completing this two year expanded course opens the door to a four-year degree program.

City College of San Francisco

? John Adams Center, 1860 Hayes Street San Francisco, CA 94117 |☎ 415-561-1819

This pharmacy technician program grooms a student to master administrative and clinical skills necessary to succeed in the trade. It also prepares them for any certification exams.

It is a program that concludes in two semesters and instills the discipline, knowledge, and skills in student so they can work across a wide range of pharmaceutical settings, like in the retail and hospital sectors in the San Francisco Bay Area. Students also get a hands-on clinical experience after completing the 30 units of instructions. Successful students will also qualify to apply for a license in California.

Contra Costa Medical Career College

? 4041 Lone Tree Way Suite 101 Antioch, California 94531 |☎ 925-757-2900

Contra Costa Medical Career College offers a comprehensive pharmacy technician certificate program that provides students all they need to enter the healthcare world as professional pharmacy technicians.

Here are some of the classes students will take: 

  • Pharmacy Law and Ethics
  • Pharmacy Regulatory Guidelines
  • Pharmacy Math
  • Inventory Maintenance
  • Pharmacology
  • More

To be admitted you must be over 18 years of age, have a high school diploma/GED or equivalents and have a clean record. 

This pharmaceutical program is approved by the California state government and qualifies students for any kind of certification exams. A certificate is also awarded to successful students. Tuition fees are approx $4214 and includes an externship, total lecture and lab hours are 336 and total quarter credit hours are 22.

InterCoast Colleges Fairfield

? 5253 Business Center Drive, Suite B Fairfield, CA 94534 |☎ 707-421-9700

This pharmacy technician diploma program is offered at campuses Fairfield or Sacramento and prepares students with the educational tools necessary to excel in the field as an entry-level worker. Students who graduate will be ready to take the PTCB certification examination. Students can make it with or without prior experience in the field.

The program which spans over 45 weeks explores the roles of a pharmacy technician and is offered in a conducive on-campus environment. In a nutshell, you’ll learn the following skills and even more: Filling and verifying prescriptions, CPR and first aid, count, measure and bottle tablets, ability to deliver medication according to instruction, etc.

San Francisco State University

? 835 Market Street, 6th Floor San Francisco, California 94103 |☎ (888) 963-5967

This is another in-depth pharmacy technician certification course and it includes some 80-hours clinical externship. You can take the courses online or offline. Studying on campus in their downtown San Francisco campus costs $1,299, while studying online goes for $1,399. The course will equip you with a wide range of skills which include: Dose conversions, pharmacy sterile compounding, aseptic technique, working with sterile products, total parental nutrition, completing prescriptions, stock and control inventory, handle insurance claims, and much more. 

Students should have taken math and science in high school. A high school diploma or GED is required to sit for the PTCB exam. Upon completion students are prepared to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board's PTCB exam.

Mission College

? 3000 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95054-1897 |☎ (408) 855-5007

Mission College offers a pharmacy technician certificate program that sets the students up for success in the job market as it equips them with all the skills required to not only work successfully across different settings, but also pass any certification examinations such as the PTCB.

Students participate in over 400 hours of instruction that includes class and lab instruction, tutoring, workshop sessions, and hands-on training in a pharmacy. There is a job placement coordinator which works directly with students to keep them informed of pharmacies that are hiring.

There are both evening and day time classes.  Tuition costs approximately $5500 which can be paid by installment - $1,080 per month. There is also a $400 administrative fee.  Financial aid is not available.

Once you successfully complete the program you will receive a certificate of completion which satisfies the State Board of Pharmacy, so you don't have to take the State Board of Pharmacy test before applying for your license.

California State University

? 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd, SF 102 Hayward, CA 94542 |☎ 1-855-520-6806

Cal State East Bay Pharmacy Technician certificate program equips each successful student with all they need to execute the job of a pharmacy technician successfully. You’ll learn to perform pharmaceutical calculations, deliver prescription orders according to instruction, mix, count, label medicine, and much more. The program is delivered online but students will still have the same qualifications as those who studied in the classroom. The skills and knowledge you acquire will also prepare you for any certification exams, like the PTCB.

The program is self-paced and takes 12 months to complete. Tuition fees are $2,565

The curriculum can be pretty challenging even though you’ll have a one-on-one interaction with the instructor. There is also the opportunity to get hands-on experience through a clinical externship at either Walgreens and CVS which the course qualifies you to take.

Northern California Nursing Academy

? 355 Gellert Blvd Ste 101 Daly City CA 94015 |☎ 650-992-6262

Being the last pharmacy certification program in the least doesn’t mean that it’s the least comprehensive. Through this pharmacy technician program, you’ll get a solid understanding of pharmacy fundamentals and terminology. You’ll be able to receive and very prescriptions and prepare medications by mixing, counting, or labelling drugs. There’s a certificate award for students who graduate successfully and they can use it to apply for a license in California.

The program concludes in 4-5 months, classes are held on Sat and Sun (9am - 3pm) and costs a total of $7400 for the classroom format. A hybrid option (online and distance learning) is also available at a cost of $3,800 and it too features an externship in either Walgreens Pharmacy or Ravenswood Health Network. 

Salary figures courtesy of US Department of Labor.

Other schools guides and locations:

San Jose Pharmacy Technician Programs

San Diego Pharmacy Technician Programs

Sacramento Pharmacy Technician Programs

Fresno Pharmacy Technician Programs

Search Pharmacy Technician Programs

Get information on Pharmacy Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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