Pharmacy Technician Certification (CphT)

Is a certified pharmacy technician the same thing as a pharmacist?

No. The job duties of a certified pharmacy technician include many of the same duties as a licensed pharmacist, but they require supervision of the pharmacist. The primary purpose of a technician is to take care of various administrative tasks of the pharmacy, thus freeing the pharmacist to take care of the primary responsibility of dispensing medication to patients, as well as educating them about the medications they are taking. A technician's duties will vary depending on their job setting, whether they are working in a pharmacy, a hospital, or answering questions about pharmacy insurance coverage.

Most often, technicians in a pharmacy will cover duties such as accepting patient orders, establishing or updating patient records and insurance information, cashiering, filling and labeling medication bottles, coordinating refills with doctors' offices, and any other duty the pharmacist requires.

In a hospital, the duties may be somewhat different, including delivering and picking up medication ordered by doctors to the various areas of the hospital.

Do I have to have a pharmacy certification to work in a pharmacy?

Depending on the state you work in, you may be able to assist in a pharmacy without the certification. However, such jobs may have time limits to get the certification, and your duties and salary may be limited by the lack of a certification. A pharmacy certification usually requires some hours of pharmacy experience, which can be obtained on-the-job, or through courses taken at accredited schools in conjunction with an externship. Some larger pharmacy chains offer externships, which more often than not can result in a career with that pharmacy.

How much does it cost to get a pharmacy certification?

The fee for the exam, the PTCB, is currently set at $129, which may or may not include testing center fees. The cost of preparation courses will vary depending on the school and method of training. This training may not be eligible for financial aid, but some government programs will pay for vocational training, so check with your local employment office for financial assistance.

Do I have to attend a school to get the certification?

You can attend a vocational school or college to prepare for the exam, however, there are a number of online courses available to prepare for the PTCB. On average, about 70% of students who take the exam pass it, so it is a good idea to be as well-prepared as possible. The exam itself requires you to go to a licensed testing center, so find out about testing centers in your area before applying.

How long is the pharmacy certification good for?

The PTCB is only good for two years, after which you have one year to recertify. The PTCB requires a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education in those two years. This ensures that all pharmacy technicians keep their job skills and knowledge up-to-date, which is vital in a market in which there are new medications, and findings about possibly deadly side effects, nearly every day. Pharmacies and hospitals have a responsibility to their patients to do as much as possible to prevent potentially deadly mistakes.

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