The proper skill set is the key to success at almost any job, including pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy techs tend to work in a complex environment that requires them to understand business, regulatory laws, insurance practices, science, and customer service.

They work in a variety of locations, too. For example, a pharmacy technician might work in a retail store or a hospital. Understanding what it takes to be an effective pharmacy tech is critical when deciding if this is the right career path for you. What skills will you need?

Skills for Pharmacy Technicians

You can break the skills necessary to be a good pharmacy technician down into two categories:

  • Personal or soft skills

  • Task or technical skills

Personal skills are inherent to you, not what you necessarily learn. For example, a sense of responsibility is an inherent personal skill. You can learn to be more responsible as part of your training, but you must have that underlying need and desire for it to work effectively. Problem-solving skills are also inherent. 

Task-related skills are what you learn so you can be good at your job. For instance, having a good understanding of technology and computer systems is a task-related skill. For example, a pharmacy technician must be able to learn the computer system quickly and be proficient at using it.

Technical skills are also those that relate directly to working in pharmacies. For example, the ability to calculate a proper dose is a specialized skill. You learn these things as part of your pharmacy certification education and training.

The combination of these two skill categories is what makes someone an effective pharmacy tech.

Communication Skills 

At the top of the list of must-have skills is good communication. Effective communication falls under the category of personal skills. However, it is more than just being able to talk to people and make yourself heard.


An effective communicator has empathy and compassion. Pharmacy technicians work with patients, consumers, and a pharmacist. They need to be interactive and friendly but also concise and accurate. You can teach people to be better public speakers, but empathy is inherent and a necessary tool for the pharmacy technician who deals with patients who may not feel good or staff who are overworked.


Along with empathy, a pharmacy tech needs to be able to explain directions clearly and discuss costs with healthcare consumers. They must also be able to practice active listening and answer customer questions. In addition, they may have to resolve conflicts with healthcare providers, patients, and insurance companies.

Written Skills

The communication skills necessary to be a pharmacy technician go beyond verbal. The technician needs practical written skills, too. For example, they may have to submit insurance claims in writing and write out medication instructions for patients.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are the things that make you who you are and are critical to your role as a pharmacy technician.


Pharmacy technician skills start with attention to detail and accuracy. Even a small error can be severe when dealing with medication. Pharmacy technicians must also double-check facts that may affect a patient's health.


The world of pharmaceuticals is fluid. Medications, patient’s needs, or regulatory laws and compliance rules often change. Therefore, pharmacy techs need to be able to adapt to changes.


Pharmacy techs work with medications and personal information. Therefore, pharmacists expect their techs to adhere to a code of ethics that helps ensure the safety of both the pharmacy staff and the patients.


Problem-solving and analytical thinking are necessary to help resolve conflicts and improve accuracy. A pharmacy tech must be consistent and systemic as they manage critical data, record information, and provide patients with written and verbal guidance.

Stress Management

Working in a pharmacy can be high-volume, and that means stress. Add to those long hours of standing and multitasking, and it's not hard to see why stress management is a necessary skill. These technicians are responsible for lives and critical data, so managing a busy environment calmly and accurately is essential.

Technical Skills

Task-related and technical are skills you learn as part of your pharmacy tech certification program and training. When hiring, employers look for these pharmacy technician skills on their resumes.

Medical and Pharmaceutical Terminology

The healthcare industry has a language, and understanding this terminology is necessary for a pharmacy technician. Comprehensive knowledge of the terminology allows technicians to be more accurate in their work and explain things to patients clearly.

That terminology extends to the insurance industry, too. There are necessary billing codes that, if inaccurate, may affect how much a consumer must pay for a prescription.

This skill would include a working knowledge of the brand and generic medications. A healthcare provider might list a brand medication when a generic one is available. The pharmacy technician must be able to recognize this and see if a generic option exists for the patient. Generic medicines tend to cost the patient and the insurance provider less.

Pharmaceutical Calculations

The ability to correctly calculate a dose is a life-or-death skill for pharmacy techs. They might need to calculate a 90-day supply of a medication based on a formula, for example.

They must be able to convert measurements to metrics as well. Medication dosages rely on kilograms, not pounds, for instance. Making an incorrect math calculation could mean someone takes too much or too little of a medication.

Maintaining Pharmacy Equipment

Mail order pharmacies use computer programs to dispense medication. Therefore, pharmacy techs in this specialized industry must understand how to operate and maintain these critical systems.

This might include TCG packaging machines, which allow patients to receive medications in pouches that are sorted by dosage. It also benefits pharmacies since it will increase the number of prescriptions filled per patient. First, techs must learn how to use this basic automated packaging technology.

Stocking Automated Dispensing Cabinets

Pharmacies with large prescriptions may rely on robotic or automated dispensing systems. This technology can reduce healthcare costs and save lives. However, someone working in a large pharmacy will need to understand the mechanisms behind these machines and how to use them correctly.

Inventory Management

Technicians must understand correct medicine storage conditions. They should be able to recommend other sources of supplies while also knowing how to return expired or damaged medications. If a supply of drugs expires, they must learn to restock those supplies to ensure customers and patients have the medicines they need when they need them.

Being a pharmacy technician is rewarding, but it requires some critical skills. Finding the right Pharmacy Technician Certification program can lead you to the career you want.

Start Your Journey Now

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Program at The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP) takes just 36 weeks of on-campus classes to complete. Our McAllen, Fort Worth, and South San Antonio campuses have this program available. Find out more about CHCP and the healthcare certification programs we offer by visiting our website today!