We asked 17,183 job seekers about their Pharmacy Technician Certification. This is what they told us:
A certified pharmacy technician is a professional who works assisting a Pharmacist in providing healthcare to customers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians work primarily in pharmacy environments, but they can also work in hospitals, nursing homes, private institutions and general stores. Although pharmacy technicians must always work under the supervision of a Pharmacist, their range of activities has progressively expanded, going from clerking duties to providing customer care. As of 2018, the median annual pay for a pharmacy technician in the US was $32,700, and the profession was expected to grow 7% in the coming decade.
Becoming a Certified Pharmacy Technician demonstrates your professional skills and your commitment to providing healthcare. In some states, it is mandatory to be licensed or certified to work as a pharmacy technician. In others, it's recognized as an optional certification, but it could be an employer requirement.
A certified pharmacy technician mainly provides assistance to a Pharmacist. Most professionals work in retail settings, but they can also be employed in hospitals, nursing homes and insurance companies. There is no national regulating board for pharmacy technicians in the US, which means that the duties a pharmacy technician can perform are ultimately defined by the state's regulating board of pharmacy. Some of the most common tasks performed by a pharmacy technician include:
Although many tasks can be performed, most pharmacy technicians are not allowed to work without supervision, administer medications or immunizations, provide counsel to patients or undertake tasks that require professional judgment from a Pharmacist.
A pharmacy technician may also seek additional certifications in order to gain skills and competencies in further pharmacy-related areas, such as ambulatory care, compounded sterile preparation, state and federal regulations, medical history and product verification. Such certificates might not grant a professional title, but can allow for a further range of allowed activities in the professional's place of employment.
The main certification available for pharmacy technicians is the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). It is provided by two organizations: the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The CPhT certifies the professional as capable of pharmacy-related duties under supervision.
The PTCB has announced the addition of an Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv). The certification exam will be offered beginning in mid-2020. To qualify for the exam, the applicant must have an active CPhT certification and either complete 4 certificate programs or have a Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician (CSPT) certification, three years of relevant work experience and complete three certificate programs.
Besides the CPhT, pharmacy technicians can earn specialized certificates covering a range of pharmacy-related topics. Specialized certificates build a professional's skill set in specialty areas and continue the CPhT's education. Some certificate programs available to CPhTs include:
Sterile Product (IV) Certification Course – Provided by the National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA), this certificate course trains professionals to prepare sterile products and aseptic technique. There is a total cost of $798 for the home study, practical lessons and exams.
Chemo Certification Course – Provided by the NPTA, this certification course trains professionals to properly handle hazardous drugs. The Chemo Certification requires previous certification or experience in IV or sterile products/aseptic technique. There is a total cost of $648 for the home study, practical lessons and an exam.
Compounding Certification Course – Provided by the NPTA, this certification course trains pharmacists or pharmacy technicians on pharmaceutical compounding. There is a total cost of $798 for the home study, practical lessons and exams.
Technician Product Verification Certificate – Provided by the PTCB, this certificate recognizes the CPhT’s ability to check for accuracy in dispensing medications and to manage administrative tasks. It requires the completion of a training program and an exam application. There is an $89 application fee.
Medication History Certificate – Provided by PTCB, this certificate recognizes the CPhT’s ability to gather medications histories and to manage administrative tasks. It requires a training program or 1 year of work experience in a similar field and an exam application. There is an $89 application fee.
In 2020, PTCB also plans to launch additional certificate programs, covering topics such as Hazardous Drug Management, Controlled Substance Diversion Prevention and Billing and Reimbursement.
The process of becoming a CPhT is one that requires education and examination. There are five steps to earning your CPhT.
A professional interested in becoming a CPhT can choose between two NACCA-accredited examinations: the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), provided by the PTCB, and the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT), provided by the NHA. It is important to properly understand each test's requirements, costs, state recognitions and employment options before applying.
The PTCE is recognized in all 50 states, DC, Guam and Puerto Rico, while the ExCPT is recognized in all states except North Dakota, North Carolina and Virginia.
After choosing a certification patchway, the applicant must make sure they fulfill all their requirements to take the exam.
For the PTCE, the requirements include submitting to a criminal background check and completing a PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program or at least 500 hours of work experience as a pharmacy technician.
For the ExCPT, the requirements are a high-school degree or GED and the completion of either a state-approved training program within the past five years or 1,200 hours of relevant work experience in one year within the past three years. In all states except Arizona, candidates can take the exam if they are within 60 days of completing their high-school diploma or GED qualification.
Candidates can also access study materials in preparation for the tests. The candidate can prepare for exams by using the online PTCE Content Outline, the Official PTCB Practice Tools and a recommended list of preparatory materials. The NHA also offers online study materials and preparation tests and additional reading materials.
In certain states, it is possible to obtain a pharmacy technician trainee license in order to work while becoming certified. The work experience can be used to qualify and prepare for examinations.
You can apply for the PTCE online with an exam fee of $129. The test is a computer-based exam with 90 multiple-choice questions and is provided by Pearson Vue. It takes two hours to complete the exam. You must bring an approved form of ID to the testing site. Applicants receive an unofficial score at the testing site, and the official results are available online within three weeks.
You can also apply for the ExCPT online with an exam fee of $117. The test is a computer-based, 120 multiple-choice question exam provided by PSI. The exam takes 2 hours and 10 minutes to be completed. You must bring an approved form of ID to the testing site. Applicants receive a preliminary report of the results upon completion of the exam.
If an applicant earns a passing score on the PTCE, they will be able to verify their status online. Certificates can be downloaded through the applicant's account with PTCB, which also offers a printed card option with the payment of a small fee. PCTB also provides the CPhT certificate with a digital badge.
ExCPT applicants can check their results on their NHA online account. Candidates with passing scores will receive a printed certificate and wallet card by mail, up to 10 business days after the exams.
After passing the exam, candidates are allowed to use the title achieved in their professional signature and media. They are allowed to include the credential CPhT after their name in a professional context.
Once a pharmacy technician becomes a CPhT, they are required to maintain the certification by renewing and fulfilling continued education requirements. For both CPhT programs, certifications must be renewed every 2 years with the payment of a fee ($49 for PTCB, $55 for NHA).
The continued education requirements are a minimum of 20 hours of pharmacy-related study, 1 hour of which must be on pharmacy law and 1 hour on patient safety. The credits must be completed during the 2 year cycle of the renewal. The CPhT program provider must approve continued education credits, so it's important to keep up to date on current programs and content outlines.
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“Wish I would have tried for Full-time”
“Many employers are looking for this certification, I would have gotten it sooner.”
“HAving the certificate doesnt help with pay rate very much”
“I had of went further with my education”
“I wish i wouldve had more experience in the field before hand”
“Flashcards. And practice the math at Data entry”
“To always ask questions about the class”
“The test requires a lot of studying regardless of experience.”
“The test requires a lot of studying.”
“make sure you memorize the top 200 drugs”
All information on this page, including but not limited to price, cost, instructions, descriptions, and the content of a certification course, is presented for informational purposes only, may be an approximation, is subject to change, and may have been generated by third parties. Prior to enrolling in a course for a certification, please contact the proper school or certification administrators for information regarding certification requirements.