What kind of certificate is available to me as a Pharmacy Technician?

To begin, let’s establish the fact that some states require certification to be a Pharmacy Technician and some do not. You will need to check with your state’s regulations to see if you need certification credentials, however, with that being said, most employers prefer that you do earn the proper credentials to ensure a quality work performance. Even if certification is not required, your volunteer certification displays your dedication to the field of pharmacy technology and shows employers that you are interested in continuing your education and doing a good job. In addition, your career opportunities will be more plentiful with the proper training and certification.

When considering the appropriate exam to take for your certification in Pharmacy Technology, be certain that it is given by an accredited association, such as, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). They are responsible for making certain that the exams meet certain criteria. For example, they make sure that the questions reflect the matters important to the job of a Pharmacy Technician, as well as, tests the professional level of knowledge that each student exhibits.

There are two organizations in which you can choose from when considering your testing options. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) offers the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). With this exam, you will receive CPhT certification. As part of the National HealthCareer Association (NHA), the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technician (ICPT) offers the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT) exam. With this exam you will receive CPhT certification, as well.

So, which test should you take? Will prospective employers prefer one test over the other? What’s the difference in the two exams? To begin, you should contact the state in which you will begin your career and inquire about which organization’s test they require you to take. If your state does not specify which exam to take, then the choice is up to you.

From an employer’s point of view, typically, either test is adequate and equally challenging, and both will showcase your knowledge as a Pharmacy Tech, however, the PTCB organization has been in existence the longest and is the most widely recognized and endorsed exam to take, which is the PTCE test. Previous test takers have commented that the ExCPT exam is more geared to those working within the retail pharmacy, while the PTCE test is split between retail and hospital pharmacy questions.

The PTCE test consists of approximately ninety questions and is to be completed within one hour and fifty minutes. 12% of the exam’s focus is related to administration and management, 22% to medication and inventory control and 66% to patient service. The examination cost is $129.

The ExCPT exam is offered at a slightly lower cost of $115 and consists of 120 multiple-choice questions, in which you will have two hours and ten minutes to complete. 35% of the questions relate to regulations and technician duties, 11% focus on drugs and drug products, while 54% test your knowledge about the dispensing process.

Practice tests are readily available through both organizations. You can expect your results immediately from the ICPT exam, however, the PTCB organization will make you wait about three to four weeks for your results. If you fail, you can re-take, although, waiting periods may apply. Re-certification is required every two years, along with continued education.

Before taking either exam, please check their websites for additional eligibility requirements and deadlines relating to test taking time-frames, work experience and background checks.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled a list of the Best Online Pharmacy Technology Certificate Programs for your convenience.