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How to Get My Certification or License as a Pharmacy Technician

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Congrats on finishing your pharmacy technician (PhT) training! Now, let's level up your career. Getting certified opens doors to exciting opportunities. Here's a step-by-step guide to getting your credentials and kickstarting your journey. Let's dive in!

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Should you get a PhT license?

It’s important to understand and differentiate the two PhT credentials - PhT certification and PhT license.

Obtaining a PhT certification involves completing a recognized training program and passing a certification exam. This demonstrates your knowledge and competence in the field. On the other hand, depending on where you are, your state's Board of Pharmacy or other governing body issues a PhT license.

You should also note that not all states need a certification or a license for you to work as a PhT. 

States like California, Florida, and Washington require a license, while states like Arizona, Louisiana, and Texas only require a certification. However, states such as Delaware, New York, and Wisconsin do not need a license or certificate to practice as a PhT. To learn more about the difference between these two credentials and determine which one your state requires, please read our blog post on becoming a pharmacy technician.

Types of pharmacy technician certifications

There are two popular credentials available for PhTs in the USA. Both types of certifications will grant you the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). It is important to note that not all states recognize both certifications. Check with your state to ensure they will recognize the certification before you apply.

Here are the two certification providers: 

  1. ‍PTCB Certification  - Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) is an organization that offers certification for PhTs in the United States. Their exam focuses on general pharmacy knowledge. PhTs who seek this license gain a solid foundation in pharmacy operations and are well-equipped to handle the responsibilities associated with their role.‍

  2. NHA Certification - The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is another prominent organization that offers certification for healthcare professionals, including pharmacy technicians. Their certification aims to affirm the practical skills and competency of PhTs. 

Steps on how to earn your certification:

Step 1: Meet eligibility requirements

You must fulfill certain requirements to be eligible for the credentialing exam. Make sure to review them below before proceeding to the next steps.

For PTCB certification:

  • Have a high school diploma.

  • Complete a PTCB-recognized pharmacy technician training program.

  • Have at least 500 hours of work experience as a PhT at the time of application. PTCB acknowledges work experience in various pharmacy settings that meets specific knowledge requirements.

For NHA certification:

  • Hold a high school diploma.

  • Complete an NHA-recognized pharmacy technician training program within the last five years.

  • Another option is to have one year of work experience (at least 1,200 hours) in the past three years.

Step 2: Apply and schedule to take your exam

Once you're eligible, it's time to apply for the certification exam. Fill out the online application form, pay the exam fee, and choose a convenient date and location.

The exam fee for PCBT certification is $129, while for an NHA certification, it is $125.

Remember that you can also apply for testing accommodations if needed by inquiring from the certification board. They will provide all the necessary information and guidance during the application process.

Step 3: Prepare for your exam

Preparation is key to success! Take advantage of study guides, practice exams, and online resources. Familiarize yourself with the exam format, content areas, and question types. The exam typically covers medication safety, pharmacology, pharmacy law, and calculations. Dedicate time to study and review the material thoroughly.

Step 4: Pass the PhT examination

On the big day, arrive at the exam center early and with confidence. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions that assess your knowledge and skills as a PhT. 

Remember to take your time and read the questions carefully. This is where the knowledge you gained during your preparation will come in handy. Trust in your abilities, and before you know it, you will have successfully completed the exam!

Step 5: Receive your certification

Congratulations, you did it! Once you've passed the exam, the certification board will notify you of your results. You can usually access your certification through their official website. You can download a digital copy of your certificate, which you can print or save for future reference. 

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Steps on how to apply for a PhT license:

Should your state require it, here are the essential steps to getting your license.

Step 1: Research

Each state has its own governing body that handles licensing requirements. In certain states, this responsibility falls under the Board of Pharmacy, while in others, it falls under departments such as the Department of Consumer Protection or Division of Consumer Affairs. The specific department may vary, but its role is to oversee the licensing process.

To assist you in familiarizing yourself with the regulatory agency for your state and its requirements, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy offers an interactive map. This map not only helps you locate the agency but also provides a direct link to their website and contact information.

Step 2: Complete required training, exams, or work experience

It is essential to complete the required training, exams, or work experience to work as a PhT, which varies per state. This step ensures that you possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and practical experience in the field. If you already have the training, certifications, or experience, make sure to double-check if these match your state’s requirements.

Step 3: Prepare the required documents

Gather the necessary documents, such as identification, transcripts, proof of training, and any relevant work experience. Ensure these documents are up-to-date and meet the state's specifications.

Step 4: Submit your application

Fill out the application form your state's pharmacy board provided wholly and accurately. Double-check that you have included all required documents and fees.

Step 5: Background check

Depending on the state, you may need to undergo a criminal background check. Follow the instructions provided by the board for this process.

Step 6: Exam and assessment

Some states require passing a pharmacy technician exam. Prepare for the exam by reviewing the relevant study materials and taking practice tests. Additionally, you may need to complete an assessment of your knowledge and skills.

Step 7: Pay application fees

Pay the required application fees, which vary by state. Ensure you submit the payment in the accepted form, such as a check or money order.

Step 8: Follow up

After submitting your application, stay in touch with the pharmacy board to inquire about the status of your application. Address any additional requirements or requests promptly.

Step 9: Receive Your License

Once the state board approves your application, they will mail your pharmacy technician license to you.  Make sure to review the license for accuracy and keep it in a safe place.

Final Thoughts:

Obtaining your pharmacy technician credentials opens up a world of possibilities. The healthcare industry is in constant need of skilled professionals like you, so embrace this new chapter of your career with confidence! You can learn more about the exciting opportunities that await you in our blog post about the pharmacy technician job outlook. Best of luck on this exciting journey!

Pia Yapjoco
Written by
Pia Yapjoco

Pia Yapjoco is part of the school growth and sales team at Dreambound. She helps facilitate school partnerships that expand educational opportunities for aspiring students in allied health and other trades. Beyond work, she curates her pup's Instagram, hunts for hidden coffee gems, and escapes into cozy gaming.

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