If you’re thinking of a pharmacy technician career, you might want to consider the benefits of healthcare training and pharmacy technician certification. Employers typically look for candidates who have industry-relevant training. Many also prefer candidates with credentials from a recognized industry organization, such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Specialized training and certification can help you become a desirable candidate for an entry-level job in hospital or retail pharmacy.
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 faster than the average for all occupations, with a 12% increase between 2016 and 2026.
According to BLS, pharmacy technician employment will grow in part because of a rising aging population that will require more prescriptions. Higher rates of chronic diseases, and more advances made in pharmaceutical research to fight those diseases, also contribute to the increase.
Pharmacy Technician Education
If you're seeking an entry-level pharmacy technician job, one option to pursue is a healthcare training program that prepares you to sit for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) offered by the PTCB.
Programs like UMA’s Health Sciences – Pharmacy Technician associate degree program help students prepare for entry-level positions by offering flexible online courses. Some degrees, like UMA's, can be completed in as little as 18 months depending on each individual student. UMA's program also offers an externship opportunity for on-the-job training.
Training for Pharmacy Technician Certification
Licensed pharmacists depend on pharmacy technicians for many different tasks, including:
- Collecting information to fulfill prescriptions
- Preparing accurate prescription labels
- Measuring amounts of medication for prescriptions
- Processing insurance claims
- Entering customer information into the computer system
Learning these professional skills and passing the national certification exam will help graduates be qualified for entry-level pharmacy technician jobs in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, mail-order facilities and more.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)
The PTCE is a computer-based exam that consists of 90 multiple-choice questions, including 10 questions that do not count toward the exam score. Candidates have one hour and 50 minutes to complete the exam, with an additional 10 minutes for a tutorial and post-exam survey. Results are based on the candidate’s answers to the 80 scored test questions. The unscored questions are not identified and are spread throughout the test.
The test is arranged into nine main knowledge areas, which include:
- Pharmacology for Technicians
- Pharmacy Law and Regulations
- Sterile and Non-Sterile Compounding
- Medication Safety
- Pharmacy Quality Assurance
- Medication Order Entry and Fill Process
- Pharmacy Inventory Management
- Pharmacy Billing and Reimbursement
- Pharmacy Information Systems Usage and Application
Candidates who pass the exam will earn the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) designation.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Requirements
Before you begin career training or certification preparation, it's important to know the requirements for certification. To be eligible to take the PTCE, candidates must have no criminal conduct, no State Board of Pharmacy registration or licensure action involving the candidate and no violation of PTCB Certification policy, including but not limited to the Code of Conduct. A high school diploma or its equivalent is also required.
If you pass the PTCE, you'll be required to recertify every two years. To maintain certification and continue using the CPhT designation, you'll also need to complete 20 hours of continuing education within two years of certification or recertification and submit a recertification application along with the applicable fees.
Benefits of Obtaining CPhT Certification
Many employers look for candidates who are certified. The CPhT designation tells employers that you've met the qualifications of a national certifying association and demonstrated competency in the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to be a pharmacy technician. Earning this industry-recognized certification may increase your employment opportunities.
Additional benefits of acquiring CPhT certification include:
- It demonstrates your commitment to the healthcare field
- It's valid throughout the U.S. and can be an important hiring requirement for many entry-level pharmacy technician positions
If you want to be a pharmacy technician, then career training and certification can be important steps for you. Once you become certified, you'll be one step closer to working as a pharmacy technician.