Pharmacy Technician Certification and Licensing

Learn about pharmacy tech certification and the steps to become a certified pharmacy technician, from pharmacy tech certification to state licensing requirements.
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Pharmacy Technician Career Facts

Benefits of Pharmacy Technician Certification

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) is responsible for certifying pharmacy technicians and recognizes over 1,400 pharmacy tech programs to prepare students for entry-level pharmacy technician positions.

There are many benefits to pursuing PTCB certification, and we’ll explore them in this article. If you’re interested in a career in pharmacy, continue reading the most frequently asked questions about pharmacy technician certification and how to get your career started.

This page will explain the exact steps in detail that you need to take to become a certified pharmacy technician.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

You can find pharmacy technicians working in drug stores, clinics, grocery stores, and hospitals.

Working under the supervision of a pharmacist, your primary role is to handle written prescription medication orders and refill requests. Complex medication questions and clinical advice will all be handled by the pharmacist. The pharmacy technician will answer basic customer questions, help people find items, and answer the phone.

Sometimes there may also be a pharmacy assistant working alongside the technician to help with some of these tasks.

The other primary responsibility you must fill in this role is to properly label and fill bottles with medication and ensure that drugs are secure and properly stored.

In general, the pharmacy technician helps the pharmacy stay organized and properly ran.

If you are wondering how to become a pharmacy technician, below are the two routes you can take.

Option 1

  • Graduate high school earning your diploma, or GED
  • Start work and receive all of your pharmacy tech training on the job

Option 2

  • Get into a pharmacy technician school
  • Complete the required classes and clinical hours for the pharmacy tech program

Option 1 isn’t always available, however you can sometimes find work as a pharmacy technician without a certification and receive on the job training.

These opportunities are fewer and harder to find which is why pharmacy technicians need certification and you will likely need to choose option 2 and complete a pharmacy tech program to then become a certified pharmacy technician.

Most pharmacy technician programs take around a year covering a variety of topics such as:

  • Pharmaceutical computations
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Medical vocabulary/terminology
  • Hospital pharmacy training
  • Insurance processes

The majority of pharmacy technician programs will require you to complete a set amount of clinical experience work. Most programs will match you with a local drug store, clinic, hospital, or other work setting where you can gain important hands on experience for your career.

By shadowing other pharmacy technicians you’ll learn exactly how to do the job and handle different scenarios discussed in your classes. Clinical experience will really prepare you for any challenges and make you feel ready to enter the work force.

As you begin comparing pharmacy technician schools, make sure the programs are accredited. The organization that accredits pharmacy tech programs is the American Society of Health System Pharmacists. The primary requirement is that the program offers a minimum of 600 hours of teaching instruction.

However, the accreditation has a number of important standards that ensure a quality education recognized by state regulators and employers around the country.

Becoming a Certified Pharmacy Technician

Becoming a pharmacy technician through option 2 and completing a pharmacy tech program will be the first step to becoming certified.

This section will explain how to become a certified pharmacy technician.

Why It Is Important To Seek Certification

According to the BLS, throughout the year 2028, the expected growth rate for employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to grow at 9%, this is slightly higher than the national average of 7%.

While this type of job growth is very promising, it is important for jobseekers to find a way to stand out from the rest of the pack. One of the best ways to do this is by becoming a certified pharmacy technician.

It is possible to become a certified pharmacy technician by passing an exam that is given by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). This incredible milestone in your career proves that you have the basic knowledge to work as a pharmacy technician professional.

While not all states will require you to be certified, however, as the demand for pharmacy technician grows this list does as well. In addition, the vast majority of employers are seeking out candidates who have already earned their certification.

So, becoming a certified pharmacy technician will open the door to far more employment opportunities for you.

Certification Requirements

There are some simple prerequisites that need to be fulfilled before you can take the pharmacy technician certification:

  • Have either a high school diploma, foreign equivalent or a GED.
  • Not have a drug-related or felony conviction.
  • Not have any restrictions from a State Board of Pharmacy in any state.

In order to maintain a proper pharmacy technician certification status, 20 hours of continuing education must be completed every two years. And one of those hours must include education in pharmacy law.

The PTCB Certification Test

The pharmacy technician certification test is completed on a computer. It will consist of 90 multiple-choice questions that cover the following aspects.

  • Helping to assist pharmacists by serving patients.
  • Maintaining proper levels of medication and inventory control systems.
  • Participating in the management and administration of the pharmacy practice.

The test is held in your round in multiple locations around the country.

There is a $129 registration fee for the test. If you are unable to pass the test the first time, you are able to take it until you earn the proper passing score.

However, you will be required to pay the exam fee each time you take the test. When you have passed the exam, you will earn the designation of a Certified Pharmacy Technician or CPhT.

The National Healthcareer Association Certification Test

It is also possible to earn a CPhT designation by taking the certification exam through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). However, one must have already completed a pharmacy technician training program or have at least one year work experience prior to taking this exam.

Specialty Certifications for Pharmacy Technicians

If you’re considering advancing your career in pharmacy work, putting in the effort to become a specialized certified pharmacy technician is an excellent idea. There are currently 3 specialization certifications that you can pursue.

These three certification programs are offered through the National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA) and covered in more detail below.

Compounding Certification

Compounding is the pharmacist’s oldest and most vital skill. Referred to as both an art and a science, compounding is the union of skill and knowledge required to customize medications to meet the needs of a specific patient.

The compounding certification course covers a range of important subjects. Record-keeping, quality assurance, and professional standards are all covered. The following compounding-specific subjects are also studied:

  • Capsules, tablets, and powders
  • Pastes, ointments, gels, and pastes
  • Nasal, ophthalmic, and otic medication preparation
  • Lozenges, sticks, troches, and suppositories
  • Emulsions, solutions, and suspensions
  • Medication flavoring

The full compounding course combines two home-study modules with two days of hands-on training.

Sterile Products (IV) Certification

The sterile products course involves studying several closely-related topics: aseptic hand-washing, hazardous material handling, vial manipulation, sterile product properties & preparation, quality control, and more. The instruction delivered in the course comes through two days of hands-on training combined with home-study modules and process technique validations. This course is suitable for both student pharmacy technicians and those who are already certified.

Chemotherapy Certification

Both students and practicing technicians can take this course which concentrates on the safe and effective handling of hazardous drugs. This course does have prerequisites. Most importantly, technicians need to complete the IV certification course before enrolling in this one. See the NPTA’s site for other requirements.

The chemotherapy course covers risk assessment, biological safety cabinets, personal protective equipment, controls and medical surveillance, and more. The chemotherapy certification course includes 10 modules for home study, a hands-on training day, and five process technique validations.

Pharmacy Technician Salary

The median annual salary for pharmacy technicians is $32,700 according to the most recent data from the BLS. Salaries vary based on a number of factors such as specialty or work setting.

For example, here are pharmacy tech salaries in specific positions:

  • Working in a hospital: $35,830
  • Working in general medicine: $30,910

Top 5 States: Highest Pharmacy Technician Salaries

  • Washington: $42,170
  • California: $39,760
  • Alaska: $39,600
  • North Dakota: $38,510
  • Oregon: $37,990
Washington - Highest Pharmacy Tech Salary
North Dakota

Pharmacy Tech Salary Comparison

Let’s compare a pharmacy technician to other related allied healthcare salaries.

Below are how similar health care assistant and technician careers compare to a pharmacy tech salary.

  • Pharmacy Technician: $32,700
  • Certified Medical Assistants: $33,610
  • Certified Dental Assistants: $38,660
  • Medical Records and Health Information Technicians: $40,350
Pharmacy Technician
Medical Assistant
Dental Assistant
Medical Records & Health Information Technicians

Pharmacy Technician Careers

After becoming a certified pharmacy technician you will enjoy a variety of career path options if you are interested in pursuing a pharmacy tech specialty career.

A wide variety of pharmacy technician careers await you, a few options are:

Central Pharmacy Operations Technician

As the name would suggest, central pharmacy operation technicians will work in a central location. For this particular role, the individual is responsible for refilling large volumes of prescriptions for a wide variety of pharmacies. Pharmacy operations techs will also respond to calls from insurance carriers, pharmacies and other pharmacy technicians. It is your responsibility to manage the inventory as well as restocking computer automated machinery.

Home Infusion Pharmacy Technician

Working as a home infusion pharmacy tech, you support the pharmacist who provides infusion services, those are and those medications that are administered through a needle to an individual in a nursing facility, home or ambulatory infusion center. The responsibilities include management of various inventory including non-sterile and compound sterile preparations and drugs and contacting individuals about their deliveries. To begin a career working as a home infusion pharmacy tech, you must be certified.

Traveling Pharmacy Technician

A travel pharmacy job is quite similar to that of travel nursing as it allows individuals to work in various settings throughout the country. Typically, an individual partners with an agency that provides short-term assignments that will last between 13 and 20 weeks. This is an excellent opportunity to work in a number of different hospitals and meet individuals in your field as well.

Compound Pharmacy Technician

Although you will have similar traditional pharmacy tech duties, such as looking up refills and answering telephones, your main role is to perform compounding calculations in compound prescriptions. The vast majority of employers are searching for certified pharmacy technicians who already have a few years of compounding experience.

Health insurance laws and a growing aging population will continue driving growth in the amount of prescription medication requests. Pharmacists have begun to take on more customer facing responsibilities leaving them to rely on pharmacy technicians for daily tasks and operations.

These are all factors that will contribute to the need of certified pharmacy technicians.

What is the pharmacy technician certificate (CPhT)

What is the CPhT certificate? This credential is issued by the board of pharmacy and requires that candidates complete a recognized pharmacy technician training program. This requirement is statutorily mandated and cannot be waived or petitioned. The Board of Pharmacy website has links to external websites that contain more information about the program. Questions about the program should be directed to the appropriate organization. For example, a program may be approved in one state, but not another.

For entry-level positions, a CPhT certificate is not required. It is, however, a definite advantage when applying for jobs. It shows employers that you have the required skills and training to perform the job. Additionally, it increases your employment opportunities. You can also get hired by a pharmacy with a certification. To earn the certification, you must complete a program that teaches basic job skills, medical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, and anatomy and drug classification. The CPhT certificate must be renewed every two years, which will require you to complete at least 20 hours of continuing education, including at least one hour of pharmacy law.

What is the pharmacy technician certification board?

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) is an American organization that administers the certification examination for pharmacy technicians in the United States.

A certificate or license is required to work as a pharmacy technician in the United States. This credential proves that you have the necessary education and experience to work as a pharmacy technician in a medical facility. Obtaining a license or certification is the equivalent of taking a national exam. However, obtaining a certificate or license may not always be an easy task. To get your certificate or license, you must pass a post-exam survey.

To maintain your license, you must earn or complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years. Your license or certification should arrive in approximately four to six weeks. You must keep track of your license’s expiration date to stay on the books. To renew your license, download the renewal application from the board’s website. You will be sent a renewal notice at least 90 days before it expires. To make sure you renew your license, you should be aware of the expiration date and address.

How to become a certified pharmacy technician?

To become a pharmacy technician, students complete either a certificate program or an associate’s degree program. These programs take anywhere from one to two years to complete, and they may include internships and externship experiences. Some programs also offer students the opportunity to complete a PTCE, a process that recognizes pharmacy technicians’ competency.

Choosing the right career path for you is important when considering a change of career. Pharmacy techs are a great option for people who are interested in helping people without having to handle blood and clinical duties. The options for training are varied, and depending on your goals and personal circumstances, you may want to pursue a certificate program or a full degree. Certificate programs are a great option for those who are interested in a career change but are not sure they want to pursue education beyond the certificate level.

Depending on where you plan to work, many retail pharmacies provide on-the-job training. Others may require that you earn a technician license before working as a pharmacy assistant. Although the requirements for licensing vary from state to state, it will be beneficial for you to pursue training in order to get valuable hands-on experience and make yourself a more marketable candidate. Furthermore, many states restrict pharmacy technicians from performing certain activities without certification, and becoming certified will allow you to take advantage of higher salaries and better opportunities.

Why seek pharmacy technician certification?

If you’re interested in becoming a pharmacist, you should consider pursuing a pharmacy technician certification program. This certification is recognized nationally and is usually abbreviated CPhT and makes you a competitive job candidate.

However, it is not required by all states. If you want to work in a pharmacy, you should first obtain a high school diploma and prove that you have a strong knowledge of English and math. It is also important to pass a drug screening and background check before beginning a pharmacy technician apprenticeship.

Although you may be able to find work as a pharmacy tech with on-the-job training and only the above requirements met, a CPhT certification will not only prepare you for the job but also open the door to many employment opportunities.

Pharmacy technician training schools are an important part of the process of becoming a certified pharmacy technician. Among the topics covered in these programs are pharmacy terminology, medication safety, professionalism, and conversion factors. The course also includes topics on IV flow rate, compounding problems, and patient safety.

The PTCE is the required certification exam that you must take and successfully pass in order to gain employment as a pharmacy technician. The exam is offered in two formats: traditional paper-and-pencil, or as an online computer adaptive test that changes questions as you go based on your skills and answers.

Another great reason to become a pharmacy technician is the flexibility of the schedule. Many people find that they can plan their lives around their work hours, allowing them to spend time with their families and friends. A pharmacy technician’s schedule may be flexible enough to accommodate a family and friends, but if you’re more interested in working part-time, a part-time position may be more suitable. In either case, a pharmacy technician can choose between different schedules.

Certified vs. Registered Pharmacy Technician

If you’re considering a career as a pharmacy technician, you may be wondering whether to get Registered or Certified? Certified pharmacy techs are trained and have taken a national proficiency exam to prove that they have the knowledge and skills needed for the job. Registered pharmacy techs are certified and are also registered or licensed by their state. They are also more likely to be considered a better candidate for a position, as employers are more likely to look for those with both formal education and state licensure.

There are two certification exams for pharmacy technicians, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) and the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT) exam. When you get certified, you can call yourself a certified pharmacist technician professional.

Although both certifications are recognized by the state where they’re located, the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers national certification for pharmacy technicians. The National Healthcareer Association offers the EXcPT exam that requires the successful completion of a pharmacy technician training program. It also requires a passing score on an exam that tests specific computer skills.

Alternatively, offered by the PTCB is the PTCE, a 90-question computer-based exam with 80 scored questions and 10 unscored questions. Unscored questions are randomly placed throughout the exam and are not identified. This

Both exams have many advantages, but you should keep in mind that certification from a national body may provide better job security in the future. Both exams are taken for the same CPhT certification. State registration and licensing requirements for pharmacy technicians will vary by state.

Do you need a certification to be a pharmacy tech?

While pharmacists may require a license or certification to work in a hospital, some states do not. However, most employers prefer a pharmacy technician who has passed the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board exam. To be certified, a pharmacy tech must complete a training program that teaches them all of the skills and knowledge they need to work in a hospital. In addition to classroom study, pharmacy tech certification programs require students to complete at least one year of practical work experience. Externship programs are another way to acquire practical experience.

Pharmacy technicians can work in hospitals, grocery stores, nursing homes, compounding pharmacies, and community pharmacies. The skills acquired in this career will prove helpful in assisting with patients’ medical problems. Those who have a strong interpersonal and communication skills will be well-suited to this type of work. Once they have obtained their certification, pharmacy techs may be able to move into management roles, pursue careers in pharmaceutical sales, or even go back to school to become a pharmacist.

What does a pharmacy technician do?

Pharmacy technicians specialize in tasks that require some knowledge of pharmacy and medication, such as preparing medicines and maintaining inventories. They often greet pharmacy patients and follow store protocols to ensure customer satisfaction. They may also help process prescription claims, handle transactions, and retrieve patient information.

A pharmacy technician is a professional in the health care field who performs a variety of administrative tasks and provides patients with prescriptions. In many cases, they work in retail pharmacies and hospitals. As a result, they spend most of their time on their feet. Pharmacy technicians are also required to interact with patients, pharmacists, and other health care professionals. Some pharmacy technicians work nights, weekends, and even holidays.

In a hospital setting, what does a pharmacy technician do? Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists by handling patient medication and maintaining patient records. Pharmacy technicians in hospitals have specialized training because they are often working with dangerous medications such as morphine. Typical duties include filling patient prescriptions, running drug tests, and counseling patients on their prescriptions as they leave the hospital.

Depending on where they work, some employers require pharmacy technicians to be certified. Certification requirements vary by state. Those who work in a hospital pharmacy may be required to be certified, while those in a community pharmacy might not need to have certification.

What is the job outlook for a pharmacy technician?

Pharmacy technicians are in demand and the field is growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook is projected to grow at a rate of 4% over the next decade. Pharmacy technician salaries are $36,740 per year or $17.66 per hour according to the BLS.

As the US population ages, more people will need prescription medicines to stay healthy and maintain a long life. According to the World Health Organization, life expectancy is higher than it was in the 1950s. As more people take prescription medications, more pharmacy technicians are needed to prepare them and provide patient care. They may also be needed to assist pharmacists and verify their work. As life expectancy continues to increase, a pharmacy technician’s job outlook is bright.

Despite these challenges, the job outlook for pharmacy technicians remains positive through 2030. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of pharmacy technicians will grow at a four percent rate, slightly slower than average for all occupations. Despite this growth rate, job prospects are promising and the industry is expected to continue to grow as the senior population grows. A report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this growth rate will increase soon. Further, advances in pharmaceutical research and the number of people with chronic illnesses will also create additional demand for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

The pharmaceutical industry moves at an incredible rate, there is a constant pursuit for advancements in technology and medicine. Due to this fact, the industry is always seeking out certified pharmacy technicians who can keep up with the latest in medical innovations.

If you have considered the medical industry for a career, a pharmacy technician is an incredible place to begin.

If you are detail oriented, organized, have strong interpersonal communication skills and enjoy helping people then a career as a pharmacy technician would be great for you. Click the blue button that says “Find Schools” to compare Pharmacy tech programs.

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