Pharmacy Technician Certification

A pharmacy technician works with the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist and assists in tasks that do not require the professional judgment of a pharmacist.  Some pharmacy technicians have on-the-job training only, but most employers prefer those who have completed a formal training and acquired a pharmacy technician certification.

A pharmacy technician performs many pharmacy-related jobs such as preparing prescriptions, counting pills, pouring liquid medications, measuring and mixing medications, typing prescription labels, selecting prescription bottles and attaching the right labels to the right bottle.  After a pharmacy technician fills a prescription, the pharmacist checks it before it is given to the patient.

Currently, there are no federal requirements for a pharmacy technician certification.  Only a few states have certification requirements for pharmacy technicians, but most employers favor those who enrolled in a pharmacy technician program or are certified.

You can find pharmacy technician programs at campus colleges, technical schools, vocational schools, and online schools.  Most of these programs can be completed in one year or even less.

When you enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate program, you will take up courses in pharmaceutical techniques, calculations, terminologies, record keeping, ethics and pharmacy law.  You will also study the names of medications, their uses and appropriate doses, side effects and dangers.

The best way to get some experience in a pharmacy is with an internship through the pharmacy technician program.  Volunteer at a local hospital or work as an aide in a community pharmacy to develop your experience and skills.  Companies who are looking to hire pharmacy technicians prefer those with practical experience in counting pills, measuring dosages, and managing inventories.

To obtain your pharmacy technician certification after you complete the program, you must pass the certification test administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).  This exam by the PTCB is called the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination or PTCE.  It is the only pharmacy technician examination endorsed by the American Pharmacists Association, the American Society for Health-System Pharmacists, and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.  As an alternative, you can also take the ExCPT exam given by the Institute of Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT).  By completing any of the exams, the technician earns the credentials “CPhT” or Certified Pharmacy Technician.

A certified pharmacy technician’s education is ongoing because of the number of new drugs coming on the market all the time.  You will have to finish 20 hours of continuing education every two years to stay certified.