Pharmacy Technician Certification
If you’re evaluating pharmacy work as a career option, consider the benefits of healthcare training and pharmacy technician certification. Employers are actively seeking qualified pharmacy technicians with industry-relevant training. Many also prefer candidates with credentials from a recognized industry organization, such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Qualifying for an entry-level job in a hospital or retail pharmacy often requires both specialized training and certification.
Recent employment trends suggest there will be good career opportunities for trained pharmacy technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of pharmacy technicians will grow much faster than the average occupation, with a 31% increase between 2008 and 2018.1
BLS reports suggest that pharmacy technician employment will grow as insurance costs rise and pharmacists become more involved with patient care, causing the pharmacy technician’s role to expand. Based on this anticipated employment growth, the BLS believes the pharmacy technician job outlook should be “excellent,” particularly for individuals with formal training or certification.
Pharmacy Technician Education
For many individuals seeking entry-level pharmacy technician jobs, one option is choosing a formal healthcare training program that prepares students to sit for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) offered by the PTCB. Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) offers two online healthcare education programs that are intended to help students qualify for employment as a pharmacy technician.
UMA’s Pharmacy Technician diploma is designed to train students for entry-level pharmacy technician positions in hospitals, retail pharmacies, mail-order pharmacies, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. The program can be completed in as few as 10 months and is offered through UMA’s convenient online learning platform. Florida residents may choose to attend traditional ground-based classes on UMA’s Tampa campus.
Students who wish to pursue a higher level of education can enroll in the UMA’s Pharmacy Technician degree, and earn an Associate of Science in Health Sciences with a concentration in Pharmacy Technician. The degree can be completed in as few as 15 months. It expands on the training provided in the diploma curriculum, adding further instruction in business, communications and healthcare.
Both UMA Pharmacy Technician programs prepare graduates for the national certification exam offered by the PTCB. Whether students opt to pursue their PTCB certification training online or on campus, their courses provide ample opportunity to develop industry-relevant skills and knowledge. Each program features an onsite externship or online practicum, which enables students to practice what they have learned and gain valuable experience.
Training for Pharmacy Technician Certification
Licensed pharmacies depend on skilled pharmacy technicians to prepare prescription medications with accuracy and to provide good customer service. UMA’s pharmacy technician programs offer instruction in key pharmacy tasks, and are designed to prepare students to:
- Receive and process prescription requests
- Prepare accurate prescription labels
- Accurately count, weigh, pour and mix medications
- Process insurance claims and billing
- Maintain patient profiles, as well as computerized patient records
Learning these professional skills and passing the national certification exam may qualify graduates for entry-level pharmacy technician jobs in a variety of healthcare settings.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)
The PTCE is a computer-based exam that consists of 90 multiple-choice questions, including 10 pre-test questions that do not count toward the exam score.2 Candidates have two hours to complete the exam. Results are based on the candidate’s answers to the 80 scored test questions, which cover three primary functional areas:
- Assisting the pharmacist in serving patients (66% of exam)
- Maintaining medication and inventory control systems (22% of exam)
- Participating in the administration and management of pharmacy practice (12% of exam)
- Candidates who pass the exam will attain the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) designation.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Requirements
In order to be eligible to take the PTCE, candidates must have no felony convictions and no drug- or pharmacy-related convictions, including misdemeanors. Furthermore, they must have no admission of misconduct or violation of any State Board of Pharmacy regulation, and no denial, suspension, restriction or revocation of registration or licensure.3
Once a candidate has passed the PTCE, recertification is required every two years. To maintain certification and continue using the CPhT designation, a pharmacy technician must complete 20 hours of continuing education within two years of certification or recertification, and submit a recertification application along with the applicable fees.4
Benefits of Obtaining CPhT Certification
Many healthcare providers prefer applicants who have completed formal training and attained the industry certification. The CPhT designation offers employers the assurance that an individual has met the qualifications specified by a national certifying association and demonstrated competency in the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to function as a pharmacy technician. Earning this industry-recognized certification may increase your employment opportunities, as some employers will only consider applicants who have attained CPhT certification.
The CPhT designation signifies that a candidate has attained proficiency in:
- Accurately following instructions given by licensed pharmacists
- Processing written prescription requests from patients and electronic prescriptions from physicians’ offices
- Reviewing prescriptions and retrieving, counting, pouring, mixing, measuring, compounding or weighing medication accordingly
- Establishing patient profiles
- Managing inventory
Additional benefits of acquiring CPhT certification are that it demonstrates a commitment to the healthcare profession, is valid throughout the U.S. and can be a key qualifier for many entry-level pharmacy technician positions.
Prepare for an In-Demand Pharmacy Technician Position With UMA Healthcare Training
Healthcare providers and licensed pharmacists rely on pharmacy technicians for their accuracy and knowledge in preparing medications, as well as their ability to provide good customer service. If you have a high level of attention to detail and excellent communication skills, and are interested in opportunities presented by today’s expanding healthcare field, consider enrolling in a pharmacy technician program.
UMA’s Pharmacy Technician degree and diploma programs are designed to teach the technical skills and knowledge required by hospitals and retail pharmacies, and to prepare you to sit for pharmacy technician certification. Upon graduation, you’ll receive your academic credential and be eligible for registration as a pharmacy technician. Through PTCB certification training online or on campus, you will be prepared to sit for the PTCE. In addition, as a UMA student, you will also have access to Career Services. When you’re ready to apply for your first pharmacy technician job, the Career Services team will be there to support you.
For all of these reasons, UMA is a solid choice for anyone interested in pursuing a pharmacy technician career. For more information on the Pharmacy Technician diploma and degree programs, contact UMA today.
1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition. “Pharmacy Technicians and Aides.” <http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos325.htm#outlook>
2 Pharmacy Technician Certification Board website; “Exam Preparation” page. <https://www.ptcb.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Exam_Preparation>
3 Pharmacy Technician Certification Board website; “About the Exam” page. <https://www.ptcb.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=About_the_Exam1>
4 Pharmacy Technician Certification Board website; “Apply for Recertification” page. <https://www.ptcb.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Apply_for_Recertification>
For information on student graduation rates, retention and placement rates, and student financial obligations, visit www.ultimatemedical.edu/consumerinfo.