Pharmacy Tech Licensing Requirements
Most states regulate pharmacy technicians in some way, and may require specific education and/or certification. Even where it is not required, however, becoming certified is in an aspiring pharm tech's best interest. Certification makes it easier to find a job, offers career growth potential, and can also result in higher pay for even entry-level positions. In addition to these benefits, certification as a pharmacy technician provides pharma techs with a better understanding of the pharmacy industry and pharmacy law, which will benefit pharmacy technicians throughout their careers.
In most states, pharmacy technicians are required to have a high school diploma or GED certificate. In addition, many states require formal pharmacy technician education or completion of a training program. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists accredits pharmacy technician programs that include at least 600 hours of instruction and 200 hours of professional experience or externship training. Most programs are one year in length, although some programs last longer and lead to an Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technician degree.
Two organizations offer certification for pharmacy technicians: the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Health Career Association (NHA). The PTCB offers the PTCB Certification. To achieve PTCB Certification, candidates must have a high school diploma or GED, provide full disclosure of all criminal and State Board of Pharmacy registration or licensure actions, be in compliance with all applicable PTCB Certification policies and most importantly, pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).
The PTCE is a computer-based exam administered at Pearson VUE test centers nationwide, and is a two-hour, multiple-choice exam that contains 90 questions in nine categories including pharmacology, pharmacy law and regulations, compounding, medication safety and quality assurance among others. The PTCB website offers several practice tools including tutorials and a practice exam for students to use in their test preparation. The application fee and cost to take the PTCE is $129, and candidates apply for certification online. Once candidates have passed the PTCE, they are PTCB Certified and ready to find a job!
The NHA offers the Pharmacy Technician Certification (CPhT), which requires that applicants be 18 or older, have a high school diploma and have completed a training program or have at least one year of work experience in order to take the certification exam. The NHA Certified Pharmacy Technician exam (ExCPT) consists of 100 scored items in a two hour and 10 minute exam time. The exam costs $115, and is scored immediately upon completion. The NHA website offers a detailed test plan to help students study for their exam as well as other study materials available for purchase. After passing the ExCPT, candidates are CPhT Certified and ready to begin working.
Learn more about becoming a pharmacy technician.
Pharmacy technician requirements vary from state to state, so be sure to check with your home state's Board of Pharmacy for the specific regulations that apply to you. In Texas, for example, pharmacy technicians must possess a high school diploma or GED, complete an application with the date of high school graduation/GED certificate award and social security number, pay a $55 application fee, be fingerprinted, pass a certification exam administered by the PTCB or NHA and become registered with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. In addition, pharmacy technicians must have a current criminal background check that is free of felony convictions, suspensions, denials, revocations or limitations on registration or licensure by any State Board of Pharmacy and substance-abuse convictions.
In general, many states typically require pharmacy technicians to have the following:
- High school diploma or GED
- Formal education or training program
- Certification exam
- Continuing education
- Criminal background check and fingerprinting
Once you have earned your certification, pharmacy technicians must recertify every two years by completing 20 hours of continuing education courses. According to the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), continuing pharmacy education “is a structured educational activity designed or intended to support the continuing development of pharmacists and/or pharmacy technicians to maintain and enhance their competence.” Examples of continuing education providers include the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians, American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
Once you have become a certified as a pharmacy technician in your state, it's time to find a job!