How to Become a Pharmacy Technician in California

California is one of the most difficult states to get certified in. You’ll need to devote quite a bit of work and time to become certified in California plus it will take a while to hear back on your status.

From the Boards own application:

“Due to current workload the board will not be able to respond to status checks on your application unless your application has been on file for over 90 days.”

That’s longer than most states so be prepared.

General Requirements:

You must have at least a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) Certificate. You will be required to provide proof of this in the application process.

In addition to this basic requirement you must also meet one of three additional requirements:

  1. Were you trained as a Pharmacy Technician in the armed forces? If so you can submit a copy of your DD214 with your application.
  2. Are you already certified by the PTCB (Pharmacy Technician Certification Board)? If so, submit a certified copy of your PTCB certificate with your application. Please note that the California Board of Pharmacy requires this PTCB certificate to be the actual original certificate or a certified copy which has been notarized as the ‘true’ copy.
  3. Finally, you can also become certified by having
  • An Associate Degree in Pharmacy Technology
  • A minimum of 240 hours of instruction in any course as specified in Title 16 California Code of Regulation section 1793.6(c)
  • A training course accredited by ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) or
  • Graduation from a school of Pharmacy which has been accredited by the ACPE (Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education).

Additional Requirements:

In addition to the big items above you must also include a couple of other items in your application:

  • Practitioner Self-Query Report – this is required by California law and will run you $16 (at the time of writing). Essentially, you have to go through the NPDB-HIPDB (National Practitioner Data Bank Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank).

It’s also important to note that the California Board of Pharmacy requires that you send the sealed original report from NPDB-HIPDB.

  • Fingerprints – If you live in California you must have your fingerprints processed via Live Scan. I don’t live in California and have no idea what this process is so I can’t comment on it.

If, like me, you live outside of the state then you have to use the Board of Pharmacy issued fingerprint cards and have them processed (which includes an additional $49 processing fee).

Big Emphasis on Turning in Complete Applications

It probably goes without saying that any Board of Pharmacy expects you to turn in a complete application. But California REALLY stresses this and will return any application that is not complete. Their application includes a pretty straightforward checklist. So just make sure to follow it to the letter and have someone double-check your application before you submit it.


An $80 non-refundable application fee. There may be additional fees depending on your status. Out of state applicants must pay an additional $49 fingerprint processing fee. There is also a $16 processing fee for the self-query report.

Time to Approval:

This can vary, but expect a bare minimum of 60 to 90 days.

License Renewal:

Every two years. Four to six weeks prior to the expiration you’ll receive a notice in the mail at your last known address. This is the only notice the board will give you.

CE Requirements:

Not addressed. However, the PTCB does require continuing education to keep your certificate active.

License Transfer:

No. All applicants must meet the requirements in this article.

More information:

Please contact

California State Board of Pharmacy
1625 N. Market Blvd, N219, Sacramento, CA 95834
Phone: (916) 574-7900
Fax: (916) 574-8618

Additional contact information for Self-Query Report Service:

National Practitioner Data Bank Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (NPDB-HIPDB)
Customer Service Center (800) 767-6732
TDD (703) 802-9395

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