Do Pharmacy Technicians Have To Be Certified?

National certification is not always necessary to work as a pharmacy technician. The requirements differ from state to state, but it can be an advantage to be certified. That said, most health system pharmacists require certification.

Key Takeaway: Do Pharmacy Technicians Have To Be Certified?

No. Certification is not always necessary. However, many states require it and your job opportunities may improve significantly. Certification demonstrates that a pharmacy technician has the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their job duties effectively and safely.

You might increase your earning potential and have more career advancement. Getting your pharmacy technician certification shows that you have all the necessary qualifications and skills to do your job.

What Does It Mean to Be Nationally Certified?

Getting your national certification means that you take an exam from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association. Passing this exam signifies that you have the knowledge to work as a pharmacy technician.

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How to Become a Certified Pharmacy Technician

While many pharmacy technicians take certificate programs, they don’t have to. Taking a postsecondary education program or getting a postsecondary degree isn’t a necessity in most cases. If you want to earn an advanced certification, another degree is needed.

Most pharmacy technicians learn from work experience or on-the-job training. Becoming a pharmacy technician is also a great way to fast-track your way into being a pharmacist. It can also help you to fast-track into working in pharmacy services or pharmaceutical industries.

Not every state requires pharmacy technicians to be certified, but it is becoming a common requirement. This is because pharmacists are taking on more responsibilities and duties. This means that pharmacy technicians are also taking on more roles.

If we also take how fast medicine is advancing into consideration, it only makes sense that health professionals would have to become even more highly certified. As a bonus, it’ll open the door to further career advancement and specialization.

Let’s look at how someone can become a pharmacy tech:

Educational requirements

To become a pharmacy technician, you need to have a high school diploma. You need the equivalent on-the-job training if you don’t have a diploma. Having a high school diploma or the equivalent is mandatory.

An associate’s degree can take up to two years to complete. This often includes practical work like an internship. Students then take their Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).

Depending on the chosen certificate program, a student can find a program that includes training in a pharmacy. They may also find a certificate program that takes about nine months or less to complete.

Certification Exams

After you’ve met the educational requirements and taken an accredited education program, there are still requirements you have to meet to take the certification exam.

Pharmacy technicians usually take their certification exam and get certified through a board; The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

The PTCB Certification Exam

The PTCB has been certifying Pharmacy Technicians since 1995 and is well-recognized in the healthcare industry.

Getting a passing score on the PTCE demonstrates to employers that the pharmacy technician is committed to medication safety and effective patient care, as well as well-versed in pharmacy law.

Eligibility requirements
  • You have to be a resident of the United States of America or its territories.
  • You have to have completed a PTCB-recognized training or education program. Alternatively, you also need to have equivalent work experience.
  • There is a directory of over 1400 PTCB-recognized programs to choose from.
  • To qualify as equivalent work experience, the pharmacy technician needs to have worked a minimum of 500 hours in that role. This path is best suited for experienced technicians who weren’t able to attend a PTCB-recognized program.
  • Complete disclosure of all criminal and State Board of Pharmacy registration and licensure.
  • Compliance with any applicable PTCB policies.
  • A passing score on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).
Apply and schedule
  1. Create an account on the PTCB website.
  2. Apply for certification by logging into your PTCB account.
  3. When your application is approved, you’ll receive an email with authorization to schedule your exam.
  4. Any test takers who require testing accommodations must request them during the application process.
Prepare for the exam

Even if you’ve completed a PTCB-recognized program, there’s no guarantee that everything that you need for your PTCB exam will be covered. The best practice is to access the available test resources, such as the PTCB practice test, before your exam.

Exam Outline

The PTCE outline is available online to give you a more detailed breakdown of what to expect.

Here’s a quick overview of the exam:

21.25% Order Entry and Processing

40% Medications

12.5% Federal Regulations

26.25% Patient Safety and Quality Assurance

Pearson Vue Tutorial

This tutorial isn’t specific to the PTCE but gives a preview of the testing experience.

Official PTCB Practice Tools

The PTCB offers practice tools in the form of a PTCE Practice Exam and PTCE Practice Bank. These tools give you a chance to attempt practice questions.

The PTCE Practice Bank costs $39 per candidate, while the PTCE Practice Exam costs $29.

Exam Fee

The cost to take the PTCB exam and apply for the CPht Certification is $129.

Taking The Exam

The PTCB exam is computer-based and consists of 90 multiple-choice questions: 80 scored questions and ten unscored questions. The unscored questions are placed randomly and aren’t identified.

On the day
  • Make sure you arrive at your designated test center 30 minutes before your appointment.
  • On the day of the exam, be mentally and physically prepared to be there for two hours:
    • Five-minute tutorial.
    • One hour and 50-minute exam.
    • Five-minute post-exam survey.
  • You’ll be required to present proper identification. This means an unexpired, government-issued photo ID with a name that matches the one on your PTCB account.

After the post-exam survey, your unofficial exam result will be presented on the screen. You can get a printed copy of the unofficial exam result at the test center; official score reports will be available on your PTCB account within two to three weeks.

If you pass the exam, your certificate will be available for download through your PTCB account. You can also order a hard copy certificate and a card for a fee.

The NHA Certification Test

The NHA’s CPhT certification is a worthy alternative to the PTCB exam; both are legally recognized as legitimate certifications. The tests are different, so it’s important to determine which test is the right one for you.

The NHA is a nationally accredited health science certification provider. They provide certifications for other healthcare professionals, such as Clinical Medical Assistants and Patient Care Technicians.

Eligibility Requirements
  • You have a high school diploma, GED, or any other equivalency test that is recognized by your state of residence.
    • You are within 60 days of earning your high school diploma, GED, or any other equivalency test recognized by your state of residence.
  • You must have followed one of the following pathways:
    • You must have completed a minimum of 1200 hours of supervised, pharmacy-related work in the last three years.
    • You must have completed an accredited or state institution-approved pharmacy technician training program within the last five years.
    • You must have completed a pharmacy technician apprenticeship program registered per U.S. Department of Labor guidelines.
    • You must have completed a formal pharmacy training program any U.S. military branch offers.
    • You must have completed a training program offered by an employer that has been verified to provide sufficient preparation for the role of an entry-level pharmacy technician. Or a program offered by the National Pharmacy Association that is recognized in your state’s Board of Pharmacy.
Apply and Schedule
  1. Create an NHA candidate profile on the NHA website.
  2. Follow the steps to register for the NHA exam.
  3. Pay your exam fee within 2 hours of your application to complete registration.
  4. A confirmation email will be sent to you when your registration is complete.
  5. Schedule your exam with PSI from your NHA account.
Exam Outline

An NHA CPhT exam outline is available online to give you a more detailed breakdown of what to expect.

Here’s a quick overview of the exam:

  • 15% Medication Safety and Quality Assurance
  • 45% Dispensing Process
  • 15% Drugs and Drug Therapy
  • 25% Overview and Laws
Exam Fee

The cost of taking this exam is $117.

Taking the exam

The NHA pharmacy certification test will be a single-session exam that consists of 100 questions, including 20 pre-test questions. Electronic devices aren’t allowed in the testing center; this is one of the test center rules. A non-programmable calculator will be provided by PSI for each candidate.

On the day
  • Make sure you arrive at your designated test center 30 minutes before your appointment.
  • On the day of the exam, be mentally and physically prepared to be there for two hours and ten minutes.
  • You’ll be required to present proper identification. This means an unexpired, government-issued photo ID with a name that matches the one on your PTCB account.
  • The NHA CPhT exam is scored right after the exam is over, and students receive their results immediately.

After the actual exam, test takers will receive a preliminary exam score. The NHA posts the official exam results to your NHA account within a few business days of taking the test.

Types of Certifications

There are several different certifications that can be earned:

Certified pharmacy technician (CPhT)

This certification can be earned from both the PTCB and the NHA. It’s specifically designed for entry-level pharmacy technicians to show that they have knowledge of patient care and medication safety.

Certified compounded sterile preparation technician (CSPT)

This certification can be earned from the PTCB and shows that the pharmacy technician has expertise in preparing compound medications for individual patients.

Advanced certified pharmacy technician (CPhT-Adv)

This certification can be earned from the PTCB and requires three years of professional experience. It also requires completed certificate programs. Alternatively, a mixture of certifications and certificate programs is acceptable.

FAQs

What is the difference between the PTCB exam and the NHA exam?

Passing either exam will make you a certified pharmacy technician. The main difference between the two is that the PTCB is more widely recognized. The NHA is slowly becoming more recognized too. Check which board the state you want to work in recognizes before taking the exam.

Final Thoughts

You don’t necessarily need to become certified to work as a pharmacy technician. The requirements to practice vary by state, so check for your specific state. It’s worth considering getting certified because it boosts your career prospects and opens more doors in the future.

https://www.allalliedhealthschools.com/pharmacy-technician/pharmacy-technician-certification/

https://www.ptcb.org/credentials/certified-pharmacy-technician

https://www.pharmacytechnician.org/npta/About_NHA_Certification.asp

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