What Is the PTCB Certification for Pharmacists?

Those who are interested in becoming a pharmacy technician will likely want to earn their PTCB certification, which is granted by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.

The Board develops, promotes, maintains and administers accredited certification programs for pharmacy techs. The PTCB developed the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination or PTCE to judge whether candidates have sufficiently mastered the skills and knowledge that are needed to work as a pharmacy technician in the US.

The PTCB certification program allows pharmacy technicians to work in a more effective manner with licensed pharmacists, and to provide superior patient care and customer service.

Below is more information about how you can achieve PTCB certification, including information about the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, subject matter tested, and information about code of conduct.

How to Attain PTCB Certification

To be certified by the PTCB, a pharmacy technician needs to meet all of the eligibility requirements. These are as follows:

  • Possess a high school diploma, or a GED; a foreign diploma also may qualify
  • Provide full disclosure of every criminal or state board of pharmacy licensure or registration actions
  • Be in full compliance with all PTCB certification policies that are applicable
  • Receive a passing score on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination.

It is important to know that you can be disqualified for being certified if you have any criminal conduct on your record; state board of pharmacy registration/licensure action involving you; or any violation of PTCB certification policy.

PTCB has the right to investigate any applicant’s criminal background, verify if they are eligible by investigating their qualifications and may deny certification of anyone it chooses.

About the PTCE

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam is a computer based examination that is given at Pearson VUE test centers around the US. The PTCE is two hours long and is multiple choice. It contains a total of 90 questions, which includes 80 questions that are scored and 10 that are not. Each question has four potential answers. Your score is based upon answers to the 80 questions that are scored.

PTCE content has been developed by pharmacy tech experts that are based on a national job analysis study that was done in 2012. The exam assesses your knowledge in nine critical areas. These are as follows:

  • Pharmacology for Technicians
  • Pharmacy Law and Regulations
  • Sterile and Non-sterile Compounding
  • Medication Safety
  • Pharmacy Quality Assurance
  • Medication Order Entry and Fill Process
  • Pharmacy Inventory Management
  • Pharmacy Billing and Reimbursement
  • Pharmacy Information Systems Usage and Application

The PTCB offers official practice tools that can help you to pass this critical examination. Unlike other practice examinations that you can purchases, this is the only one that is specifically produced by the PTCB.

Candidates can apply for their certification online. The cost to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam is $129.

After you have passed the exam, you may then use the designation ‘CPhT.’ To keep this certification, you must be recertified every 24 months. The reason for certification is to ensure that all pharmacy technicians are up to date on pharmacy practices by completing 20 hours of continuing education credits.

Code of Conduct Overview

Regarding the code of conduct, the PTCB states on its website that it sets certain standards that are meant to serve the interests of pharmacy techs, pharmacists, companies and employers. PTCB wants to ensure that candidates for certification are giving top priority to the interests of the public, and to act in a way that demonstrates a high level of integrity, and reflects in a positive manner on the field.

It notes that every certificant or candidate has to adhere to these standards:

  • Act in a consistent manner with all state and federal legal requirements that are related to pharmacy tech practice.
  • Do not engage in any behavior that is a violation of ethical or legal standards, including all US criminal laws, federal laws, state laws, agency regulations and regulatory agency laws.

The code of conduct places specific emphasis on maintaining and respecting the confidentiality of sensitive patient information in all pharmacy related work. The only exceptions are if the information is potentially regarding illegal activity.

Any individual or organization can submit a charge of alleged misconduct to the PTCB regarding the actions of a pharmacy technician.

After you have passed the PTCE examination and have been certified by the PTCB, you then can work as a certified pharmacy technicians. Below is more information about your new career.

Pharmacy Technician Career Overview

Pharmacy technicians are critically important assistants to pharmacists. They help them to dispense prescription drugs to either customers or health care professionals. They most often work in retail pharmacies, such as Walgreens or CVS, or in hospitals. Their common duties include:

  • Collect the relevant information that is needed to fill a drug prescription from health professionals or customers
  • Measure how much of the various medications are needed for each prescription
  • Label and package prescriptions for customer pick up
  • Carefully organize and check drug inventory. Tell the pharmacist when supplies are getting low on critical drug ingredients
  • Work with customers and accept payments; process their insurance claims
  • Enter customer data into a computer; this will include prescriptions that are taken, allergies etc.
  • Take telephone calls from patients and healthcare providers
  • Provide basic information to patients about drugs they are taking, but refer more advanced questions to the pharmacist. Your pharmacy technician program will teach you about the questions you can answer and cannot.
  • Have customers talk to the pharmacist on duty if there is a question that you are not legally allowed to answer

Job Outlook

Now is a good time to become a pharmacy technician. National job data states that the growth in this field will be a strong 9% by 2024. This is faster than average when compared to other occupations in the US.

Experts state that this increased need for pharmacy technicians is being driven by several factors:

  • The US population is commonly living well into their late 70s and 80s, and more Americans than ever are over the age of 65. Older people need more medications so that they can extend life and enjoy a better quality of life. Older people fill more prescriptions than decades ago, thus there are more pharmacy techs needed to fill the gap.
  • An aging population has a higher incidence of major diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. More drugs are needed to treat these diseases.
  • Great advanced in drug research is allowing for more treatments of diseases and illnesses that once went untreated or were treated with surgery.
  • Pharmacies are offering more services to patients, including immunizations and flu shots. More workers are needed to handle the demand.

Salary Potential

Government data states that the median wage for all pharmacy technicians is $30,900 as of May 2016. The top earners in the field earn more than $45,000 per year. These are the most experienced and certified pharmacy technicians.

Note that pharmacy technicians who work in hospitals tend to have the highest salaries, at $35,800, while drug store pharmacy technicians earn $28,700.


Being a PTCB-certified pharmacy technician is the door to an exciting and financially rewarding career with substantial growth possibilities in the pharmacy and health care fields.


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Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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