Pharmacy technicians can sometimes begin their careers with only a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Requirements vary by state, and continuing education (CE) requirements for those that require certification or registration also vary. Regardless of state requirements, voluntary certification is available, and CE requirements to maintain certification can include college courses, classes from professional pharmacy associations or courses from certification agencies.
CE requirements for pharmacy technicians vary by state. In states where certification or registration are required, pharmacy technicians can earn CE credits through colleges, professional pharmacy associations or certification agencies. CE hours may be undertaken in a technician's place of employment, but they should be focused on learning new technologies and practices. Continuing education courses are often available online.
|Required Education||High school diploma and on-the-job training; 1- and 2-year certificate programs are available|
|Required Experience||Registration or certification is required by most states|
|CE Requirements||20 hours of pharmacy-related continuing education every two years|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||9% increase (for all pharmacy technicians)|
|Mean Salary (2015)*||$31,680 (for all pharmacy technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Registration and Certification
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require pharmacy technicians to register with their state board of pharmacy, but many do not require pharmacy technicians to be certified. Voluntary certification is available through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), a private organization that offers national certification examinations. Because registration and certification requirements vary from state to state, technicians should check with their state's board of pharmacy for more details.
For example, Colorado does not require registration or certification to work as a pharmacy technician. California, however, requires registration but does not have certification or continuing education requirements for registration or renewal. Pharmacy technicians in Virginia seeking registration need to either already be PTCB-certified or must pass an exam approved by the state board of pharmacy. Registered pharmacy technicians in Virginia need to complete five hours of continuing education per year for registration renewal.
Continuing Education Requirements for Recertification
The PTCB requires certified technicians to recertify every two years. In order to recertify, pharmacy technicians must complete at least 20 hours of pharmacy-related continuing education. Up to ten hours can be earned at a technician's place of employment under a pharmacist's supervision, but these hours shouldn't be earned by performing regular duties. Instead, technicians are encouraged to complete tasks that facilitate professional growth, like training on pharmacy software. At least one contact hour must be spent studying pharmacy law.
Continuing Education Providers
CE courses are offered online for free by the PTCB. Technicians may also take one college-level life science or math course per 2-year certification cycle, which counts for 15 hours. Another option is to take a continuing education course through a professional pharmacy association. Below is a list of online CE providers provided by the PTCB website:
- American Pharmacists Association (www.pharmacist.com)
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (www.ashp.org)
- National Pharmacy Technician Association (www.pharmacytechnician.org)
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Employment of pharmacy technicians was predicted to increase 9% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. This rapid increase is likely due to pharmaceutical advances, as well as a growing elderly population using more prescription medications. In May 2015, the BLS reported a mean annual salary of pharmacy technicians of $31,680.
Pharmacy technicians who earn certification are required to take courses related to new technologies and practices related to their field. The CE requirements for pharmacy technicians vary from state to state, and it is important to check state guidelines to ensure CE requirements are fulfilled. Pharmacy technicians who obtain voluntary certification with the PTCB must re-certify every two years.