Pharmacy Technician Certification Requirements
Pharmaceuticals can boost both the length and quality of our lives -- but only when prescribed and used properly. Doctors and pharmacists certainly have an important role to play, and so do the pharmacy technicians that support them. Pharmacy technicians help prepare and dispense prescription and nonprescription medication, and may even counsel patients in its use (under the direction of a licensed pharmacist). As with many health care jobs, the right training and certification is not just preferred, it is essential for becoming a pharmacy technician. The following guide offers a snapshot of pharmacy technician certification requirements and benefits.
Pharmacy tech educational requirements
Pharmacy technician education requirements can shift from one employer or state to the next, so it pays to do your research. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) notes that while many pharmacy techs are able to learn on the job, job prospects are often better for candidates who have completed formal pharmacy technician training programs and are certified. Some states require certification and licensure (contact your state's Board of Pharmacy to learn more).
The BLS reports that there are two organizations that certify pharmacy technicians: The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the National Healthcareer Association. Each organizations has its own requirements, and even these are subject to change. Nonetheless, the BLS states that most certification candidates must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Clear a formal background check
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Complete a formal pharmacy technician training program or have at least one full year of relevant experience in the field
- Pass a formal exam
- Pay applicable fees
- Meet ongoing continuing education requirements
- Re-certify every two years
Note that many employers have their own requirements and, according to the BLS, may prefer to hire candidates who have completed formal postsecondary training -- even when on-the-job-training is sufficient for licensing. The College Board reports that students can begin to prepare for this training as early as high school by completing as many science and math courses as possible. Pharmacy technician programs usually require applicants to have earned a minimum grade point average and submit standardized test scores for admissions. Contact schools directly to learn more.
Benefits of pharmacy tech certification
As noted above, in many cases pharmacy technicians certification and licensing is downright required by the state, the employer, or both. There are a number of additional benefits to certification, however, even on a voluntary basis. Among them:
- Certification shows employers you are invested in your field
- Certification certifies certain key skills
- Some certified pharmacy techs earn more or advance faster
- Continuing education for re-certification ensure you stay on the cutting edge of your field
- Certification organizations offer unique professional development and networking opportunities
Remember that state requirements and licensing processes can and do change, so it pays to do your research. Contact the PTCB, the NHA, your state's board of pharmacy or an accredited pharmacy technician school to learn more.
Career: Pharmacy Technician, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/careers/health-technology-pharmacy-technicians
National Healthcareer Association, http://www.nhanow.com/home.aspx
Pharmacy Technicians, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, http://www.ptcb.org/