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Thinking About Becoming a Pharmacy Technician? Here Is What You Need To Know.

how to become a pharmacy technician, pharmacy tech certificate

Being a pharmacy technician is a tough but rewarding career. Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in the health of their communities. They’re the backbone of the pharmacy, assisting the pharmacist with filling prescriptions and providing patient care services. Because the pharmacy is a fast-paced environment, the work can be stressful at times. Most happy and successful pharmacy technicians emphasize the importance of self care through medication, yoga, exercise, or other means. With self care and a positive work-life balance, pharmacy can be a satisfying career for technicians. 

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How To Earn Your Pharmacy Technician Certificate

To earn your pharmacy technician certification, you typically need to meet the following requirements:

  1. Have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  2. Pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) or the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT).
  3. Register with the state pharmacy board where you plan to work. A criminal background check may be required.  
  4. Maintain your certification through continuing education and renew your state registration as required.

Note: requirements may vary by state. It’s best to check with the specific board of pharmacy in the state where you plan to work for the most accurate and up-to-date information.


Pharmacy technician certification boards

Pharmacy technician certification demonstrates knowledge as a technician and commitment to the profession of pharmacy. Employers often value certification because it is an objective standard by which to demonstrate competence and the ability to provide effective patient care. Some states may require national certification to work as a pharmacy technician. 

There are two national organizations that offer initial pharmacy technician certification. Pharmacy technicians who wish to earn the credential of “certified pharmacy technician” or “CPhT” have options for earning certification:

  1. Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
  2. National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

Each organization has different guidelines for eligibility, although the requirements are similar. You may be required to complete a pharmacy technician training program or demonstrate a certain amount of work experience in the pharmacy setting. 


Pharmacy technician certification exam

There are two different exams for pharmacy technician certification:

  1. Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)
  2. Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT)

The PTCE is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the ExCPT is offered by the National Healthcareer Association. The exams are very similar in content, and you can find information online about what is covered on each of them. Both exams cover medications/pharmacology, law, medication safety, and the dispensing process. In addition to these topics, both exams test candidates’ skills in pharmacy calculations and medical terminology. For more information, please refer to the PTCE content outline and the ExCPT test plan.


Is the pharmacy tech test hard?

Pharmacy technician certification exams are rigorous but manageable. Being prepared is the key to success on either of the certification exams. Candidates should make sure they have a strong grasp of pharmacy calculations, as that is often reported to be one of the most challenging topics on the exam.

In addition, since medication-related questions make up 40% of the PTCE, it’s essential to have a wide breadth of knowledge in that area. Focus on knowing the top 200 drugs really well and use flash cards to help reinforce your learning.

Finally, make sure you have a good study resource to guide your review. There are a number of pharmacy technician certification exam study guides available online and in bookstores. 


How do I become a pharmacy technician in Georgia? How do I become a certified pharmacy technician in Tennessee? What are the requirements for a pharmacy tech?

The requirements for becoming a pharmacy technician are different in every state. Some states do not have requirements for pharmacy technicians, although this is becoming increasingly rare as more states move to regulate pharmacy technicians. Some states require pharmacy technicians to register with the Board of Pharmacy or other state agency before they can practice and some require technicians to be nationally certified by passing a pharmacy technician certification exam. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board maintains a state regulations map that shows state-by-state requirements for pharmacy technicians. 

For instance, in Georgia, prospective pharmacy technicians apply to the Georgia Board of Pharmacy for registration. Registration has two steps: 1) completion of an online application and 2) submission of a supplemental application by mail. Candidates must be at least 17 years of age, be currently enrolled in high school or have a high school diploma or GED, and complete a criminal background check. If the candidate is currently working in a pharmacy, they should submit the license number of the pharmacy. If the candidate is already a certified pharmacy technician, a copy of the certificate should be submitted. Registration requires a $100.00 non-refundable fee. For more information, please check out the Georgia Pharmacy Technician FAQs

Tennessee is another state that requires pharmacy technician registration but not national certification. For more information about Tennessee requirements, please see the Tennessee Department of Health’s pharmacy pages. 

Some states require national certification to work as a pharmacy technician. These states include Texas, Louisiana, Montana, Washington, and Illinois, among others. All states recognize national certification from either the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the National Healthcareer Association. 


How long is pharmacy technician school? How long does it take to do a pharmacy technician course?

The length of pharmacy technician school can vary depending on the program and the institution offering it.

Some pharmacy technician programs can be completed in as little as four months, while others may take up to two years to complete. The length of the program will depend on the type of program, such as certificate or diploma, and whether the program is full-time or part-time.

Certificate programs are usually the shortest, and are typically completed in 6-12 months. They are designed to provide students with the basic knowledge and skills needed to work as a pharmacy technician.

Diploma programs are a bit longer, and can take up to a year to complete. They provide more in-depth training on a variety of topics, including pharmacy laws and regulations, medication safety, and patient communication.

Associate degree programs are the longest, and typically take two years to complete. They provide more extensive training and education than certificate or diploma programs, and also include general education courses.

It’s important to note that the length of the program is not the only factor to consider when choosing a pharmacy technician program. The accreditation of the program and the quality of the instruction are also important factors to take into account.


Where To Get Pharmacy Technician Continuing Education, Why Choose freeCE

Continuing education is important for pharmacy technicians to stay current with the latest developments in their field and to maintain their certification. Choosing freeCE as a provider can be a good choice as it’s an affordable, flexible, and convenient option for pharmacy technicians who are busy and have time constraints.

freeCE is also an accredited provider of continuing education by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE). Explore our membership options today!


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