Contrary to popular opinion, the world of pharmacological services is more than just pharmacists and physicians. A handful of other professionals play vital roles in ensuring optimal health and results for patients needing medication. Pharmacy technicians are an example of these.
Naturally, as we’ll see below, certification for a pharmacy technician is often as important as the initial training required to practice in a medical establishment. If you’d like to pursue a career in the field and want to know everything about the certification options and requirements for a pharmacy technician, below is an in-depth guide on the topic.
Who is a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy technicians work alongside pharmacists to stock, assemble, identify, and dispense medications to patients needing them. To do this, a pharmacy technician must have a solid knowledge of various illnesses and their appropriate medicines and the ability to collect and assess patient information to discover relevant information that may influence the type of medication they need.
Pharmacy technicians play such an essential role in any pharmaceutical establishment that the job often comes with impressive compensation for their relative degree categories and educational requirements.
The amount of compensation, however, can be significantly influenced by certification.
Who is a Certified Pharmacy Technician?
A certified pharmacy technician (CPhT) is a pharmacy technician who has gone through a certification process. Employers have an affinity towards certified pharmacy technicians because, along with their training, they now have a designation that shows that they are indeed well-versed in all the skills they need to possess to function optimally as pharmacy technicians.
As we’ll see below, several pathways exist to becoming certified as a pharmacy technician. The “certified pharmacy technician (CPhT)” designation can be attained through one of two major certification bodies, which we discuss further below.
Pharmacy Technician Certification
Pharmacy technicians get certified because it is often mandated by states and cherished by employers. Two central certification bodies are responsible for certifying pharmacy technicians, each with unique requirements and examination focus. We take an in-depth look at both of them below.
The National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
The National Healthcareer Association has been responsible for certifying more than 450,000 allied healthcare professionals over the past two decades and more. Those who choose to get licensed through the NHA receive the CPhT designation once they pass the certification exam.
All certification bodies have their unique requirements. For the NHA, conditions vary depending on the state where you’d like to practice. Information regarding unique needs is updated on the NHA website every year.
To enroll, all candidates must pay the $105 fee and register online using a unique username and password. Candidates must be at least 18 years old.
Other requirements include a high school diploma or GED, completion of a training program, and no less than 12 months of work experience acquired in the past 36 months.
The NHA provides a handful of study materials for candidates looking to prepare for the certification examination. These materials are available on the association website and include online practice tests, calculation tests, and a $15 flashcard.
It is also possible for candidates to purchase a learning resource package for $199. This package includes a learning manual, workbook tutorial, calculation practice assessments, and flash cards. A similar alternative for $56 consists of practice drills, audio narration, case study videos, and five learning models.
The examination contains 120 multiple-choice questions, which must be completed in two hours and 10 minutes. Those who fail to pass the exam the first time can attempt it the second time without a wait period. However, failure to pass it a second time will incur a 30-day wait period and 12 months for those who don’t attain a passing score the third time.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board was established in 1995 and has certified numerous pharmacy technicians ever since. Those who choose to get licensed through the PTCB receive the CPhT designation once they pass the certification exam.
To become certified through the PTCB, candidates must have a high school diploma or GED and comply with the organization’s code of conduct. Application is carried out online on the PTCB portal and includes a $129 examination fee.
To enroll, all candidates must register using a unique username and password. Just like the NHA, requirements by the PTCB vary by state. Information regarding each state’s unique needs can be found on the portal.
The PTCB certification examination is computer-based and contains 90 questions, 80 of which are scored. The exam tests candidates’ knowledge in several domains, including medication order entry and fill processes.
More information regarding exam details is available on the board website, including guides on preparation and special testing accommodations. After gaining approval to sit for the exam, candidates have 30 days to provide any supporting documentation they might have and 90 days to take the test.
The exam must be completed in two hours.
For more preparation, students can peruse the tutorial offered by PearsonVUE, the platform upon which the computer-based tests are taken. It should be noted that PearsonVUE is a different entity from the PTCB.
Candidates may also take practice tests offered by the PTCB, which contain 90 questions and are available for $29.
The Importance of Certification
Candidates have a lot to gain by becoming certified pharmacy technicians. According to the National Healthcareer Association, those who become certified have a higher chance of securing employment than those who don’t.
Generally, to employers, certification equals a guarantee of a base level of competency, which takes away significant risk in the hiring process.
The PTCB also reports numerous benefits to getting certified, including employment opportunities, growth opportunities, increased earnings, respected credentials, and respect among peers.
Feel free to visit the PTCB website to learn more about the importance of certification for a pharmacy technician, along with validated proof of achievement and knowledge.