Pharmacy Technician Exam

Completing the pharmacy technician exam will give you a leg up not only on the competition, but will prepare you for the possibility of a nation-wide requirement.

Requirements for certification or licensure vary from state to state, but most do license, register, or certify their technicians in some way. In fact, over 80% of states regulate their pharmacy technicians.  Educational programs for pharmacy technicians also vary, from community colleges and trade schools to programs offered directly by pharmacies.  There has been a proposed recommendation by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) that by 2015, all state Boards of Pharmacy require certified pharmacy technicians (CPhT) to complete an accredited education and training program.

The primary organizations that offer certification are the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Both agencies are certified by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and are recognized in all 50 states.

Plan Ahead for Your Pharmacy Tech Certification

Considering the changing environment for technicians, it is wise to consider certification at an early stage in your career. Completing the pharmacy technician exam will give you a leg up not only on the competition, but will prepare you for the possibility of a nation-wide requirement. We’ll tell you about the prerequisites for the exams and help you get prepared to sit for the test.

Table 1: Prepare for Certification
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

Prerequisites

The PTCB requires that the following prerequisites be satisfied before sitting for their exam:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Full disclosure of all criminal of State Board of Pharmacy actions against you
  • Compliance with all PTCB Certification policies

Candidates may be disqualified or have their certification revoked for any of the following reasons:

  • Criminal conduct
  • State Board of Pharmacy actions involving the PhT
  • Violation of the PTCB Certification policy
The NHA has set forth the following prerequisites:

  • High school diploma or requivalent
  • Candidate must be at least 18 years old
  • Successful completion of a training program or one-year work experience in the field. Candidates may be required to provide proof or work experience or training program.

What to Expect on the Exam

The exam contains 90 multiple choice questions, and 110 minutes is given to complete the test. Practice exams can be purchased on the PTCB website.
3 components to test:

  • Assisting the Pharmacist in Serving Patients (66% of exam)
  • Maintaining Medication and Inventory Control Systems (22% of exam)
  • Participating in the Administration and Management of Pharmacy Practice (12% of exam)

The exam administered by the PTCB is being changed in the latter half of 2013.

The NHA doesn’t release information specific to their exam, but they do offer a variety of test preparation kits available to applicants. The NHA partners with ATI Allied Health, which is a leader in online allied health education. They offer Study Guide Tutorials through an online Education Portal, with prices as low as $56.00. Visit atialliedhealth.com for more information.

Where do I go to Take the Test?

The test from the PTCB is administered in person at one of over 235 Pearson VUE testing centers. Once the candidate’s online application is accepted, authorization to sit for the exam will be granted. This authorization is good for 90 days. If the exam is not taken or rescheduled during that time, the fee will be forfeited. Appointments to schedule the exam can be made online or by calling Pearson VUE at (866) 902-0593. If the applicant is currently enrolled in an NHA affiliated program, then the exam may be taken at that school. Otherwise, the exam must be taken at one of over 600 testing center locations in the U.S. Exams are scheduled on the NHA website.

Is Online Testing Available?

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board offers its exams only at a testing center. Online testing is not allowed. The National Healthcareer Association offers computer-based training for students attending schools that they are affiliated with. All other applicants must test in person.

How Much Does it Cost?

The PTCB charges an application and exam fee of $129.00. Recertification is charged at $50.00, and reinstatement costs $90.00. Withdrawn or denied applications will be charged a $25.00 administrative fee. The pharmacy tech certification exam is offered by the NHA for a fee of $105.00. No refunds are given, but exams can be rescheduled within 6 months of the original exam date.

Benefits of Certification

As we mentioned, there are currently no nation wide certification requirements, but the increased prevalence and responsibility of pharmacy techs could change that. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has recently taken a stand on the possible need to adopt a nation-wide set of standards. A recent NAPB task force stated that “by 2015, state boards of pharmacy require all certified pharmacy technicians to complete an accredited education and training program”.

Having professional pharmacy technician certification demonstrates that you have proven knowledge and experience in the field of pharmacology.  As you search for jobs, you will automatically have a competitive advantage over those who do not have  credentials. In some cases, your accreditation can be a useful tool for negotiating a salary that reflects your level of expertise.

Information as to the specific requirements of each state can be found on the state’s Board of Pharmacy or Health Department website.

Pharmacy Technician Practice Exams

As we mentioned, you only have one and a half to two hours to take the pharmacy technician exam, depending on who is administering the test. You’ve worked hard to get to this point, paid the fee for the exam, and you want to pass it the first time. There are many practice exams available online to help you, some of which are free. There are also books and manuals available for purchase from a variety of providers if you feel that you need even more preparation. As follows are sites where you can find practice exams:

  • PTCB.org (offers 4 practice exams at $29 each)
  • NHANOW.com (many practice tests available at a variety of costs)
  • tests.com/practice/pharmacy-tech-exam
  • Pharmacy-Tech-Test.com