The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) is the largest pharmacy tech certification organization in the U.S. PTCB announced last fall that 503,620 CPhT certifications had been granted as of June 30, 2013. You must have a high school diploma (or equivalent) and pass the comprehensive Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) in order to become a PTCB certified pharmacy tech.
The PTCE is recognized in all 50 states (and Washington D.C.), and the PTCE is only pharmacy technician certification exam reviewed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. You can take the PTCE at any of the 237 Pearson VUE Professional Centers nationwide.
PTCB’s certification program not only assesses current knowledge, it also requires PTs to maintain certification by fulfilling specific continuing education requirements. PTCB-certified pharmacy techs must complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education every two (2) year recertification cycle.
Statement from PTCB CEO
“Passing the half-million mark is an exciting milestone in the growth of PTCB’s nationwide certification program,” said PTCB Executive Director and CEO Everett B. McAllister, MPA, RPh. “The PTCB CPhT credential represents an excellent pathway to employment opportunities for pharmacy technicians. It enables them to stay current and be prepared to meet the requirements of the occupation as our healthcare system evolves.”
PTCE Regularly Updated to Reflect Demands of 21st Century Pharmacy Industry
The PTCE is also regularly updated in consultation with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Modern pharmacists’ responsibilities today include significantly more direct-patient care and medication therapy management than in the past, and this trend is almost certainly going to increase with the ongoing roll out of health care reform. This means PTCB-certified pharmacy technicians need to have additional training to develop the skills necessary to help pharmacists improve patient care and safety, support new pharmacy IT systems and pharmacy operations.
Pharmacy Technician Training and Licensing
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most pharmacy tech training programs last from nine to 12 months and lead to a professional certificate. A few PT programs last 18 to 24 months and result in an associate degree. Most community colleges and technical schools offer a pharmacy technician training program, and some larger retail pharmacy chains offer an in-house training program overseen by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists.
PT training programs cover the math used in pharmacies, record keeping, and methods of dispensing medications, as well as pharmacy law and ethics. Training typically focuses in particular on the names, uses and proper doses of common medications. Nearly all pharmacy tech programs also offer at least a few weeks of clinical experience working in a pharmacy after you have satisfactorily completed your initial training.
Almost all states require pharmacy technicians to be licensed or registered. Earning a pharmacy tech license typically requires a high school diploma, completing an approved PT training program and passing a licensing exam. Most employers and many states require pharmacy techs to be certified by a national certification board such as PTCB.