There are many forms of training that can qualify you to become a pharmacy technician, including on-the-job training and degree and certificate programs. Licensure and registration requirements vary by state. With a high school diploma, you may qualify to sit for the Certified Pharmacy Technician examination, administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.
Pharmacy technicians are professionals who hold careers in places such as pharmacies and nursing homes preparing prescriptions for patients. Individuals who want to take the pharmacy technician certification exam should have a high school diploma or equivalent. Certified Pharmacy Technicians must take continuing education units in order to maintain certification. Many employers prefer to hire pharmacy technicians who have already completed their schooling and exam, but some may offer on-the-job training.
|Required Education||Pharmacy Technician program or on-the-job training|
|Required Skills||Measure and calculate dosage, label prescriptions, and record data|
|Exam Requirements||Confirmation e-mail and driver's license|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||9% (faster than average)*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$30,410*|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)*
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Certified Pharmacy Technician Exam Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some states see certification as a voluntary process, but applicants see it as a means of gaining respect within the field and having the ability to earn more money. Applicants who want to take the exam must have a high school diploma or its equivalent and apply online at the website of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). After receiving an application, the PTCB sends an e-mail confirmation along with instructions on how to arrange a testing appointment.
The 2-hour exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions and is taken on a computer. Applicants are required to bring their confirmation e-mail along with a photo ID, such as a driver's license, to a designated Pearson VUE Professional Testing Center.
Receiving Exam Results
Exam scores are mailed three weeks after the test and are based on a pass or fail system. Applicants who pass receive their certification card in the mail. Those who fail have three more chances to take the exam. The first two retakes require applicants to wait 60 days before taking the exam again. The third retake entails waiting six months before taking the exam.
After passing the exam, applicants are issued a certification card with the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) credential. To maintain the CPhT credential, certified professionals must acquire 20 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). CEUs are earned through courses at community colleges, quizzes completed through pharmacy technician trade publications or online through the National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA).
Up to ten hours of CEUs can be earned on the job as long as it's under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. The PTCB also requires that one hour is earned in pharmacy law and that 15 hours can be earned by taking such college courses as biology, chemistry, anatomy, drug therapy, customer service skills and pharmacology. Certification is renewed every two years either online or through the mail.
Requirements for state licensing and registration can vary from state to state. For example, some states require pharmacy technicians to register with the Board of Pharmacy. In order to be eligible, technicians must have a high school diploma or its equivalent and pay a specified application fee. In other states, evidence of formal training may be required for licensure, whether it's through a 2-year degree program, a course or PTCB certification.
Job Outlook and Salary Info
According to the BLS, pharmacy technician jobs were predicted to increase 9% from 2014-2024. This above-average level of job growth can be attributed to pharmaceutical advances and the growing population of older people requiring prescription medications. In 2015, the BLS listed the median annual salary of pharmacy technicians at $30,410.
While not required in every state, passing the 90-question exam to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) can boost a pharmacy tech's career prospects. Maintaining the credential requires completing a certain amount of continuing education training every two years. Jobs for pharmacy technicians are expected to grow at a faster than average rate for all professions from 2014-2024, and the median salary was about $30,000 in 2015.