While many states do not require pharmacy technicians to hold certification for employment purposes, there are certainly marked advantages to pursuing this accreditation. Not only will gaining certification as a pharmacy technician increase your odds of being hired, it can also mean better pay and enhanced potential for promotion. Those seeking certification in this field should be able to fulfill the following prerequisites: acquisition of a High School Diploma or GED; a clean background, free of felony and drug related charges; and, if applicable, have no infractions for misconduct in a pharmaceutical capacity. Once a pharmacy technician has received their basic training, it is simply a matter of passing a recognized exam, most commonly, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) or the Examination for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT), and fulfilling continuing education requirements on a bi-annual basis.
Pharmacy Technician Certificate Exams and Certification Maintenance
Certification exams are two hour, proctored, multiple-choice tests, administered on the computer in testing centers multiple times annually. The tests consist of ninety questions and can be taken as many times as necessary, but require payment for each attempt. If you do not pass on the first attempt, you must wait 90 days before you are eligible to retest. Currently, the cost per examination is $129 according to the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). For additional information on exam content and the application process, please refer to the PTCB website. However, passing the test is not the culmination of the certification process. Every two years, certified pharmacy techs must complete twenty continuing education hours including a minimum of one hour devoted to pharmacy law, in order to stay current on restrictions, professional practices, medicinal inventory, and drug administration.
Preparing for the Pharmacy Tech Certification Test
Whether you are already working as a pharmacy technician, you have completed an accredited training program, or you are preparing to take the exam with the minimum requirement of a High School Diploma, it will prove beneficial to utilize study tools and resources available specifically for the purpose of test preparation. Practice tests are available online and through the PTCB to help gage your knowledge and readiness for examination. Resources like the PTCB's "Guidebook for Certification" are also helpful in creating an outline from which to study. Test questions are randomly ordered, but content will be based on the three major areas of function for pharmacy technicians:
- Assisting the Pharmacist in Serving Patients
- Maintaining Medications and Inventory Control
- Participating in the Administration and Management of Pharmacy Practice
The Benefits of Certification
Acquiring pharmacy technician certification is an important step for anyone considering a career in this field. Certification commands credibility, not only in the workplace, but also for those looking to become a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy schools often choose applicants who have taken the initiative to acquire their pharmacy technician certificate prior to pursuing additional education, as it proves an advanced level of interest and commitment to the occupation and its practices.