Your Ultimate Guide to Pharmacy Technician Certification 

How to Get Certified, Which Organization Offers National Certification, Certification Length, and More

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Pharmacy technicians play an essential role in the healthcare industry, working alongside pharmacists to help patients with their medications. They are responsible for tasks such as filling prescriptions, managing inventory and communicating with patients and other healthcare professionals. As the demand for healthcare services continues to grow, so too does the need for skilled pharmacy technicians.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician, one of the first steps you’ll need to take is obtaining the proper education and certification. Pharmacy technician certification is a way to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in the field and can lead to more significant job opportunities and higher salaries.

This article will explore how to become a certified pharmacy technician, including education and training requirements, certification options, and career paths. We’ll also discuss the different types of pharmacy settings where pharmacy technicians can work, as well as the specific roles and responsibilities they may have.

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Get information on Pharmacy Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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Whether you’re just starting out in the healthcare industry or looking to advance your career, pharmacy technician certification can be a great way to achieve your goals. Let’s dive in and explore how to get started on this exciting career path.

How to Get Pharmacy Technician Certification

Becoming a certified pharmacy technician is an essential step towards advancing your career in the healthcare industry. Here are the steps you can take to get certified:

Step 1: Meet the education and training requirements

You must complete an accredited education and training program to qualify for pharmacy technician certification. Community colleges, vocational schools, and online institutions typically offer these programs. Most programs take 6-12 months to complete and cover topics such as pharmacology, pharmacy law and ethics, and medication safety.

It’s important to ensure that your chosen program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) or another recognized accrediting body. Accredited programs have been evaluated to ensure that they meet specific standards of quality and are more likely to prepare you for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) and the job demands.

Step 2: Gain hands-on experience:

In addition to classroom instruction, you’ll also need hands-on experience working in a pharmacy setting. This can be done through internships, externships, or on-the-job training programs. Some states also require pharmacy technicians to complete a certain number of hours of work experience before they can be certified.

Hands-on experience is crucial for developing the practical skills to be a successful pharmacy technician. It can also help you better understand the day-to-day responsibilities of the job and make you more competitive in the job market.

Step 3: Pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)

The PTCE is a nationally recognized certification exam that tests your knowledge and skills in pharmacy practice. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) administers the exam and consists of 90 multiple-choice questions. To pass the exam, you’ll need to score at least 1,400 out of a possible 1,600 points.

Preparing for the PTCE requires a solid understanding of pharmacy practice, including drug classifications, dosage forms, and drug interactions. You can prepare for the exam by studying textbooks, attending review courses, and taking practice exams. Giving yourself enough time to prepare for the exam is important, as it can be challenging and requires a strong knowledge base.

Step 4: Apply for certification

Once you’ve passed the PTCE, you can apply for pharmacy technician certification through the PTCB or another recognized certifying body. You’ll need to provide proof of your education, training, and work experience and pass a background check.

Certification can help you stand out in the job market and may be required by some employers. It can also provide opportunities for career advancement and higher pay. Keep your certification current by completing required continuing education courses or recertification exams.

Which Organization Offers National Pharmacy Technician Certification by Exam?

When it comes to pharmacy technician certification, several organizations offer certification programs. However, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) is the organization that offers national certification by exam and is the most recognized certifying body for pharmacy technicians in the United States.

Established in 1995, the PTCB is a non-profit organization that aims to advance medication safety by certifying pharmacy technicians qualified to support pharmacists in medication preparation and distribution. The National Commission accredits the PTCB certification program for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), an independent organization that sets standards for certification programs. This accreditation ensures that the PTCB certification program meets nationally recognized standards for quality and fairness.

The PTCB certification process involves several steps. To be eligible for certification, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent, have completed an accredited education and training program, or have equivalent work experience. You must also pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), a computer-based exam that tests your knowledge and skills in pharmacy practice. The exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions and takes about two hours to complete. The PTCE covers various topics, including medication safety, pharmacology, pharmacy law and regulations, and drug interactions.

Once you have passed the PTCE, you can apply for certification through the PTCB. To apply, you’ll need to provide proof of your education, training, and work experience and pass a background check. Once you’re certified, you can use the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) credential.

In addition to national certification, some states have their own certification requirements for pharmacy technicians. These requirements may differ from the PTCB and include additional education or training, work experience, or certification exams. It’s important to research the certification requirements in your state to ensure that you meet all the necessary criteria.

Becoming a certified pharmacy technician through the PTCB can provide many benefits, including greater job opportunities, higher pay, and a sense of accomplishment. The certification process can be challenging, but with the right education and preparation, it’s an achievable goal for those interested in pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician.

How Long Does Pharmacy Technician Certification Take

The time it takes to become a certified pharmacy technician can vary depending on several factors. These factors can include your prior education and experience, the type of training program you choose, and the time it takes to prepare for and pass the certification exam.

Education and Training Requirements

The first factor that can affect the time it takes to become a certified pharmacy technician is the education and training requirements. To be eligible for certification, you must complete an accredited education and training program, which can take anywhere from 6-12 months. Some programs may be shorter or longer, depending on the institution and the program structure.

If you have prior education or experience in a related field, such as nursing or healthcare, you may be able to complete your training more quickly. Some programs may also offer accelerated options for students who want to complete their training more quickly.

Hands-on Experience

In addition to education and training, you’ll also need to gain hands-on experience working in a pharmacy setting. This experience can be acquired through internships, externships, or on-the-job training programs. The amount of time it takes to achieve this experience can vary depending on the program and the availability of opportunities.

Some states also have specific requirements for the amount of hands-on experience that pharmacy technicians must have before being certified. It’s important to check with your state’s Board of Pharmacy to determine what the requirements are in your state.

Hands-on experience is crucial for developing the practical skills to be a successful pharmacy technician. It can also help you better understand the day-to-day responsibilities of the job and make you more competitive in the job market.

Certification Exam

Once you complete your education and training and gain the necessary hands-on experience, you must pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). The time it takes to prepare for and pass the exam can vary depending on your preparation and study habits.

Some students may take review courses or study groups to prepare for the exam, while others prefer to study independently. It’s important to give yourself enough time to prepare for the exam and to take practice exams to gauge your readiness.

Generally, the time to become a certified pharmacy technician can range from several months to a year or more, depending on the individual and the program. However, with the proper education, training, and preparation, you can become a certified pharmacy technician and start your career in this rewarding field.

What Can You Do with a Pharmacy Technician Certification

A pharmacy technician certification can open up many job opportunities in the healthcare industry. Here are some of the positions that you can pursue with a pharmacy technician certification:

  1. Retail Pharmacies:¬† Retail pharmacies are the most common employers of pharmacy technicians. As a pharmacy technician in a retail setting, you’ll assist the pharmacist with filling prescriptions, managing inventory, and communicating with patients. Retail pharmacies include chain drug stores, grocery stores, and independent pharmacies.
  2. Hospital Pharmacies: Hospital pharmacies are another common employer of pharmacy technicians. As a pharmacy technician in a hospital setting, you’ll work with the pharmacist to ensure patients receive the correct medications and dosages. You may also prepare and compound medications, manage inventory, and communicate with other healthcare professionals.
  3. Long-Term Care Facilities: Long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, also employ pharmacy technicians. In this role, you’ll work with the pharmacist to ensure residents receive the correct medications and dosages. You may also manage inventory and communicate with other healthcare professionals.
  4. Specialty Pharmacies: Specialty pharmacies provide medications for patients with complex or chronic conditions. As a pharmacy technician in a specialty pharmacy, you’ll work with the pharmacist to ensure that patients receive the correct medications and dosages. You may also manage inventory and communicate with patients and healthcare professionals.
  5. Pharmaceutical Companies: Pharmaceutical companies also employ pharmacy technicians in various roles, such as research and development, quality control, and production. In these roles, you may be responsible for testing and analyzing medications, managing inventory, and communicating with other research and development team members.

Pharmacy technicians can also work in other settings, such as mail-order pharmacies, compounding pharmacies, and nuclear pharmacies. Additionally, some pharmacy technicians may specialize in a specific pharmacy area, such as oncology or pediatrics.

It’s important to consider your interests and career goals when choosing a position and the specific requirements and qualifications needed for each role. Some positions may require additional education or certification, such as a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy or a certification in a specific pharmacy area.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a certified pharmacy technician is a great way to start a career in the healthcare industry. With the growing demand for healthcare services, the need for pharmacy technicians is also increasing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Pharmacy technician certification can provide you with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in this field and positively impact patients’ lives. In addition to technical skills, pharmacy technicians must have strong communication skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work well in a team environment. They must also have a thorough understanding of medication safety and be able to ensure that patients receive the correct medications and dosages.

To become a certified pharmacy technician, you must meet certain education and training requirements, gain hands-on experience, and pass the certification exam. It’s important to research your state’s education and certification requirements to ensure that you meet all the necessary criteria.

Once certified, you can pursue various job opportunities in settings such as retail pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, long-term care facilities, specialty pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies. Depending on the location, pharmacy technicians may have different roles and responsibilities. For example, in a retail pharmacy, pharmacy technicians may interact with patients more often and be responsible for managing inventory and communicating with insurance companies. In a hospital pharmacy, pharmacy technicians may prepare and compound medications for patients with more complex medical conditions.

It’s important to consider your interests and career goals when choosing a position and the specific requirements and qualifications needed for each role. Additionally, continuing education and professional development can help you stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in pharmacy and expand your career opportunities. The PTCB offers a variety of certification programs that allow pharmacy technicians to specialize in areas such as sterile compounding and medication history.

In conclusion, pharmacy technician certification can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path for those interested in healthcare. With dedication and hard work, you can become a certified pharmacy technician and positively impact the lives of patients and their families. As the demand for healthcare services continues to grow, the need for skilled pharmacy technicians will also increase, making this field a stable and promising career choice.