How Important Is National Certification?

Pharmacy Technician Certification Board

First of all, let’s make sure to understand the definitions of several different terms that are often used together, and sometimes (mistakenly) used interchangeably. These are the culprits: registration, licensing, and certification.

Most states require pharmacy technicians to register with the state board of pharmacy. This means that you give them your name, your contact information, and often your fingerprints or social security number, or both. The state wants to keep track of all of the people working with prescription drugs.

Some states require pharmacy technicians to obtain a license to practice. Just like applying for a driver’s license, you will have to meet certain requirements in order to obtain the license; these requirements differ between states. Many require drug testing. Numerous states require some type of training, whether it is on-the-job or a formal education program. If training is required, you must show proof of completion of the training in order to receive a license. A common requirement for licensure is for a candidate to be certified by a nationally recognized organization.

The two most widely recognized national organizations are the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The ICPT offers a pharmacy technician certification exam known as the ExCPT and the PTCB offers a pharmacy technician certification exam known as the PTCE. Once you have passed one of these exams, you are considered a Certified Pharmacy Technician and you receive a certificate acknowledging that accomplishment.

Depending on the state in which you live, the requirements to practice as a pharmacy technician may be stringent, non-existent, or somewhere in between. Regardless of a state’s requirements, one of your main goals should be to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician. Technicians who achieve certification demonstrate an advanced knowledge of pharmacy practice and a technician’s duties.

Certified Pharmacy Technicians enjoy increased wages and greater variety of job duties. Although your state may not require national certification, all pharmacy managers prefer it, and some may only interview applicants who are certified. Additionally, many states are moving in the direction of requiring national certification for all pharmacy technicians, so you should stay ahead of the curve.

While some states accept either the PTCE or the ExCPT certification exams, there are a few that only accept the PTCE. That being the case, we encourage our students to take the PTCE. Luckily for you, as a student of Career Step’s Pharmacy Technician program, you can be prepared to pass the PTCE with flying colors.

To ensure you prepare as best you can for the PTCE, make sure to participate in the various consultations available to students. These consultations are full of helpful advice and tips to aid you throughout the program, in preparation for your final exam, and as a Career Step graduate. Contact Student Support at for more information about the next available consultation.

Remember, success in this course is important to prepare you for the PTCE, and success on the PTCE is vital to securing employment as a pharmacy technician. So keep working hard and don’t forget that we are here to help!

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