How to Become a Certified Pharmacy Technician – A Complete Guide
A career as a Pharmacy Technician can be gratifying, and it can provide an EXCELLENT platform for career advancement opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry. Not only that, but it’s a career that is trending upwards. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics the –
“Employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.”
With that said,
Every year prescription medication is dispensed at a vast rate and as a result, the responsibilities continue to GROW for Pharmacists. Naturally, they require a helping hand in various healthcare/pharmaceutical environments. That is where a Pharmacy Technician WILL ease that burden since they will play a VITAL role in the dispensing and managing of medication. So,
To help you along your journey, our Pharmacy Technician career guide explores areas such as educational requirements, roles and duties of a Pharmacy Technician, career paths to salaries, and a breakdown of the Pharmacy Technician certification examination.
Table of Contents
What Does A Pharmacy Technician Do?
Overview Of The Steps To Become A Pharmacy Technician (CHART)
Pharmacy Technician Educational Requirements And Prerequisites
Pharmacy Technicians Continuing Education (CE) Requirements
Renewing Your Pharmacy Technician Certification
Understanding The Certified Pharmacy Technician ( PTCE) Exam
How to Transfer Pharmacy Technician Certification to Another State
Pharmacy Nursing Boards By State
Certified Pharmacy Technician Career Paths
Certified Pharmacy Technician Salary
Certified Pharmacy Technician Industry Statistics
Certified Pharmacy Technician Earning Potential by State
Certified Pharmacy Technician Highest Paying US Cities
Choosing The BEST Certified Pharmacy Technician Program For You
Search Certified Pharmacy Technician Jobs In Your Area
As a Certified Pharmacy Technician, you will be working closely with a Pharmacist to dispense medication to customers and health care professionals. You will also be required to collect the necessary information from the customer or healthcare professional to fill a prescription. Your EXACT role as a pharmacy technician will depend on where you are working. However, some of your other duties MAY include the following:
Accepting prescriptions and completing refill requests from patients. You may also need to assess the information provided by the customer for accuracy.
Filling the medical history of a customer or patient for record-keeping and ensuring the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations are met.
ALERT the pharmacists of any shortages of medications or supplies
Accept payment from the customer for prescriptions. You MAY also process insurance claims
Answer phone calls from customer and ENTER their information into the computer
Before you can become ELIGIBLE for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), you MUST SUCCESSFULLY complete a STATE-approved Pharmacy Technician program. These programs have an approved curriculum with both in-class learning and supervised clinical modules. With that said,
Let’s explore the educational requirements and prerequisites in more detail:
Completion of a PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program. You will also be ELIGIBLE if you are currently enrolled but are scheduled to complete the program within 60 days.
Approved PTCB programs can be found here – Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
You will also be ELIGIBLE for the Certified Pharmacy Technician exam if you have equivalent work experience (min. 500 hours). This route has been established for experienced technicians who were not in a position to attend a PTCB-recognized program. PTCB accepts work experience across pharmacy practice settings that pertains to specific knowledge requirements.
You MUST also MEET the following requirements:
You MUST provide a full CRIMINAL background check. You will also be required to disclose STATE-Board of Pharmacy registration or licensure actions
Compliance with all applicable PTCB Certification policies
Once you have SUCCESSFULLY passed the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), you will be required to meet the continuing education (CE) requirements to maintain your license. As a Certified Pharmacy Technician, you MUST RENEW your certification every two (2) years by completing the following continuing education (CE) requirements:
Complete a minimum of 20 hours of CE during your 2-year recertification period, including:
1) One (1) hour in the subject of pharmacy law; and
2) One (1) hour in the subject of patient safety
It’s essential that continuing education (CE) hours MUST be completed in a Pharmacy Technician-specific subject matter. You can view the outline here – Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination Content Outline. You can also COMPLETE these hours through ACPE-accredited providers with the target audience designation “T.”
PLEASE NOTE: Continuing education ( CE) CANNOT be carried over and applied to future recertification cycles. They MUST be applied to CURRENT recertification cycles.
Certified Pharmacy Technicians can apply for recertification sixty (60) days BEFORE their certification’s expiration date. If you FAIL to recertify before the expiration date, your certification will be INACTIVE. Therefore, you MUST apply for reinstatement within one (1) year of certification expiration to resume active status.
To learn more about the Continuing Education (CE) and RENEWAL process, please visit – How to Renew My Pharmacy Technician Certification.
As just mentioned above, continuing education (CE) units are required for your certification to remain active and imperative for you to be able to RENEW your Pharmacy Technician certification.
Please read section – Pharmacy Technician Continuing Education Requirements
After fulfilling the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) prerequisites, you will be ELIGIBLE to sit for the Pharmacy Technician Certification exam. The purpose of the PTCE is to help STATE boards assess your qualifications and your abilities to determine how effective you would be as a Certified Pharmacy Technician.
In this section, we will explore the examination structure, registration, scoring, etc
The cost to apply for CPhT Certification and take the PTCE is $129.
The TOTAL exam time is two (2) hours with the following breakdown – (5-minute tutorial, 1 hour and 50-minute exam, and 5-minute post-exam survey).
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam has ninety (90) multiple-choice questions. Out of the ninety (90) questions, eighty (80) will be scored, and ten (10) will be unscored.
To view how the EXAM questions will be divided throughout the exam, please view the following – the Pharmacy Technician Certification (scroll down to the “Prepare for Your Exam” section).
Start by creating a PTCB Account.
Apply for the certification by logging into your PTCB Account. After your application is APPROVED, you will receive an email with your authorization to schedule your exam.
The PTCE is administered year‐round at more than 1,400 Pearson Professional Centers nationwide, including more than 100 military on-base sites.
Your SCORE will be presented on-screen after you have completed the examination. Your official SCORE will be posted to your PTCB Account within two (2) to three (3) weeks.
If you PASS the PTCE, your certification status can be verified through PTCB’s Certification Verification page.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification is a Nationally recognized qualification, and therefore can be used across any State. Hence, if you decide to relocate to another STATE at any point, your certification will remain valid. As stated by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board –
“PTCB’s certification is valid nationwide. If you move out of state, your certification moves with you. However, the regulations to work as a pharmacy technician vary from state to state. Contact your state Board of Pharmacy to review state practice regulations.”
Alaska | Alabama | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Delaware | Florida| Georgia | Hawaii | Iowa | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Puerto Rico | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virgin Islands | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming |
As a Pharmacy Technician, you will have the opportunity to transition into other jobs in the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry. As a matter of fact, the educational training you complete to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician will play a significant role in your career advancement. For example, the program can provide a SOLID foundation when advancing into other RELEVANT positions – a Pharmacist, a Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician, and even a Hazardous Drug Management Technician. With each advancement, you MAY require different certifications, but the increase in salary and benefits WILL definitely be worth it. With that said,
Let’s explore each OPPORTUNITY with more detail –
Pharmacist: If your ready to make a HUGE leap into becoming a Pharmacist, then having experience as a Pharmacy Tech will definitely help. However, you will have to spend a few years upgrading your education and then PASSING the NAPLEX examination. With that said,
Many schools do offer a Pharmacy Technician to Pharmacist transition program and having experience as a Pharmacy Technician CAN help your chances of being accepted into a program. The fact, you have worked in various pharmacies before transitioning into a Pharmacist, will also help lower the anxiety students often get with the work involved in a Pharmacy program/school. According to Indeed.com, the average base salary for a Pharmacist in the United States is $120,187.
Sterile Preparation Technician: Once you have become a Pharmacy Technician, you can upgrade your certification to lead to more employment opportunities in the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) does offer other credentials that a Pharmacy Technician can complete, to further their advancement if they wish to. Since many Pharmacy Technicians are responsible for preparing medication in a sterile environment to prevent contamination, completing your Compounded Sterile Preparation Certification (CSPT) MAY BE a GREAT option. Furthermore, with the completion of this certification, you WILL have the knowledge and skills to demand greater responsibilities that will, of course, be accompanied by higher salary and benefits too.
Hazardous Drug Management: This is another excellent career advancement option if you are a Certified Pharmacy Technician. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) does offer this credential, and the opportunities that arise from such a certification can be extremely fulfilling. Once you complete the Hazardous Drug Management certification, you will be responsible for defining the guidelines and requirements for managing hazardous drugs. You will also play a vital role in helping ensure the safety of the facility.
Other Options: As a Pharmacy Technician, you can also PIVOT into other areas of healthcare. The experience you gain working as a Pharmacy Technician and in various environments will be an asset to working as a Medical Laboratory Technician, Nuclear Medicine Technologist, and even a Regulatory Affairs Specialist.
The average annual salary for a Certified Pharmacy Technician is $41,831, with the average Certified Pharmacy Technician hourly pay being $16.32.
Figures are reflective as of August 2020 (Indeed.com)
Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)
Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)
Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)
Figures are reflective as of May 2019 (bls.gov)
Once you have decided to pursue a career as a Certified Pharmacy Technician, it’s essential you choose a school that will give you a strong foundation to prepare you for what’s ahead. As a Certified Pharmacy Technician, you WILL be working closely with Pharmacists and patients in areas that require both an in-depth knowledge of your responsibilities and a skillset to perform them too. With that said, it’s IMPORTANT to take into consideration various FACTORS before selecting a Certified Pharmacy Technician program. Therefore, we have listed the common questions you should consider before finalizing your choice:
1) Has the Certified Pharmacy Technician program been ACCREDITED by the PTCB?
As you have read in our guide, you will only be ELIGIBLE to sit for the Pharmacy Technician Certification exam if you have completed your education from a recognized program by the PTCB. You can view the list of the recognized programs directory here – the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board accredited programs.
By completing your education from an ACCREDITED program, you will ensure NO roadblocks are in your way from obtaining your certification. Not only that, but the programs have also been STRUCTURED to provide a strong foundation for you to comfortably transition from a student to an employee working in the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry.
2) What is the LENGTH of the Certified Pharmacy Technician program? Full-time, Part-time, or Online?
Everyone has to manage their priorities along with their level of flexibility. Before accepting entrance into any program, it’s essential to understand the length and workload associated with a full-time or part-time program. Some schools will offer a full-time program that may extend longer then what you expected. Therefore, this may affect your timeline in entering the workforce. However, you may also have the option of attending an accelerated program that would allow you to certify much sooner. However, these programs may be more compact and demanding due to having to condense the curriculum into a shorter period of learning. So, consider your options and your flexibility at the time of enrolling. With that said,
You may also have the option to enroll in an online Pharmacy Technician program that would be beneficial if you are already a full-time worker and CANNOT attend class on campus.
3) Are there any applicable student reviews/ratings about the Certified Pharmacy Technician Program Being Offered?
The internet can be a great resource if you’re a student looking for information on a specific topic, or even, a program in this case. We strongly recommend you do your due diligence before enrolling. This means you should consider online reviews/ratings of the school/program because this will provide much needed insight into the quality of education and learning they provide. If you are NOT comfortable with just reading online reviews, then you should visit the campus and speak to fellow students to hear their feedback on the school, program, and learning environment.
4) Will the Certified Pharmacy Technician program offer opportunities to transition into other progressive roles or further education? How about work opportunities?
Once you have SUCCESSFULLY completed the program, it’s always beneficial if the program provides additional resources to help you on your journey. For example, will the school provide you with job assistance or even the ability to transition into other roles through advanced education? As you have read in the “Career Paths” section, you will have the opportunity to certify in other areas after obtaining your initial certification. With that said,
Try to enroll in a school/program that NOT only offers quality education but is also one that is affiliated with institutions that can provide a platform for potential employment opportunities. Through these affiliations, you will have less pressure on having to find employment independently.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board
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