Can You Become A Pharmacy Tech Without A High School Diploma?

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You go to school, attend your classes, and maybe a pep rally or two. Then, before you know it, you’re attending senior prom and skipping out of there with your diploma in hand, right?

Well, not necessarily. In fact, around 23 million US citizens over the age of 25 never graduated from high school. And there are plenty of reasons why.

Family drama, falling out with friends, undiagnosed learning disabilities, and even plain old teenage rebellion can all stop a student from gaining their high school diploma.

And if you’re one of the people without a high school diploma, you might be wondering:

“Can I still become a pharmacy tech?”

Let’s find out, shall we?

Do I need a high school diploma to become a Pharmacy Tech?

OK, so you might have heard that you need a high school diploma in order to sit your PTCB exam and get certified as a pharmacy technician.

And until recently, this was the case.

However, the PTCB made some key changes in January 2020 and it is no longer a requirement that applicants have a high school diploma in order to sit their exam.

Instead, applicants must either:

  • Complete a PTCB accredited training program
  • OR have completed a minimum of 500 hours equivalent work experience  

We cover these national-level requirements in more detail here.

Now, while that all sounds promising, it’s important to consider all the details before making solid career plans.

Let’s start by looking at how your home state affects your career plans:

Do pharmacy technician requirements change depending on your state?

Put simply, yes, in the USA, every state is able to make its own rules about who can be a pharmacy technician. 

And this means that some states have chosen to require that all pharmacy technicians have a high school diploma or GED.

What can you do if you live in a state that requires pharmacy techs to have a high school diploma?

If you left school without a high school diploma, you have two options available to you:

  1. You could choose to relocate to a state that doesn’t have this requirement
  2. OR you could take your GED exam

Now both of these options can sound scary, so take the time to really think about what is right for you. 

However, it’s worth remembering that having a GED will make you more attractive to prospective employers. So it may be worth looking into this option before you pack up your life.

OK, now assuming you live in a state that doesn’t require a high school diploma. Can you join an accredited training program without a high school diploma in hand?

Can I get into a pharmacy tech school without a high school diploma?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question. You see, there are tonnes of organizations offering accredited pharmacy tech courses. And each of them sets its own entry requirements.

The good news is that some education providers accept applicants without a high school diploma.

So, how do you find them?

Well, research is key. Luckily, the PTCB has a database of all the accredited learning providers here.  Start by making a shortlist of programs that are either:

  • Conveniently located for you
  • OR available online

Then go through your list, checking the entry requirements for each course. Don’t forget to call or email the admissions department if you are unable to find the information you need on the website.

OK, so far we have concentrated on wanna-be-pharmacy-techs who left school without gaining their diploma. But what about if you’re still in high school? Can you train and become a pharmacy tech before your graduation?

Let’s take a look:

I’m still in high school – can I be a Pharmacy Tech?

Whether you can become a pharmacy technician while still in high school depends on a number of factors. 

Let’s take a look at them now:

Does your state allow high school students to work as pharmacy technicians?

OK, we know that it’s annoying. But the rules about who can work in a pharmacy do change depending on your state.

And some states require that you have your high school diploma before accepting a job as a pharmacy tech. 

This means that high school students in Maryland can work in a pharmacy, for example. But those in Nebraska can’t. 

So, be sure to check the rules in your area before you spend too much time job hunting/

Can I be a Pharmacy Technician at age 16?

Again, this depends on your state. 

For example, in the states of Illinois, Kentucky, and New Hampshire, 16-year-olds are legally allowed to work as pharmacy techs (providing they meet all other requirements).

But in Utah, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island, pharmacy technicians must be at least 18 years of age before they can legally complete this type of work.

And that means you’re going to have to check your state’s requirements if you are still a minor.

OK, so you’re allowed to work as a pharmacy tech in your state? Great! 

Now it’s time to consider how you’ll complete your training:

Does your school offer an accredited pharmacy tech program as an elective?

Yep, that’s right. Some lucky students are able to complete an accredited pharmacy tech course as an elective. 

So, make sure to speak to your careers advisor to check whether this is an option at your school.

But what if your school doesn’t offer a pharmacy tech course?

Can you find a course that you can complete around your schoolwork?

If your school doesn’t offer pharmacy technician training, you may want to look at some online providers instead.

Many of these courses can be completed around your existing commitments. But don’t forget to consider if you’ll have time for extra study. If you already struggle to keep on top of your schoolwork and extracurriculars, it might be better to wait until after graduation!

And bear in mind, it’s common for training providers to request parental permission if you are under 18.

OK, what else do you need to think about?

Passing your PTCB exam

Whether you need to go back to school for your GED or live in a state where a high school diploma is unnecessary, you’ll need to pass your PTCB exam in order to get accredited.

But don’t worry, our PTCB Hero study guides have all the information you need to pass on your first time.

And you can try our practice exam for free now.

Michelle Jones
Michelle Jones

Michelle is Medical Hero's in-house expert on the PTCB exam and pharmacy technician careers.