The pharmacy technician requirements for employment are dynamic and are changing rapidly.
by Michelle Goeking, BM, CPhT
With the aging population and increase of the number of pharmacies and prescriptions in recent years, the responsibilities of the pharmacy technician have increased.
Due to the need to employ competent pharmacy technicians to handle the additional workload, the days of being trained “on-the-job” are going by the wayside.
Each state maintains its own pharmacy laws and regulations through its State Board of Pharmacy, and each has its own provisions regarding pharmacy technicians.
Though there are a few states remaining that do not require any
registration, licensing, or certification for pharmacy technicians, most
states practice one or more of the previous methods of regulation.
We've compiled detailed information on
pharmacy technician state requirements here.
Some states require a simple registration, which involves filling out a personal history form and submitting a payment to the state for this registration. The state will perform a background check to ensure that no felony convictions are present on the applicant’s record. If everything checks out, a registration is approved. Licensing is similar, but may be conditional on passing a competency exam either given by the state or by an accredited national pharmacy technician certification provider.
Many states are requiring pharmacy technicians to become nationally certified within a certain time after being employed. Despite this probationary period, many employers in states that require certification prefer hiring technicians that are already certified or have completed a pharmacy technician course or program.
In order to become nationally certified, a pharmacy technician may take a competency exam either through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. Each state has individual requirements for certification, so please consult your State Board of Pharmacy to determine which certification provider(s) is/are accepted by your state.
Both the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians have similar testing formats with numerous testing sites across the country. To take an exam, one would need to register and pay the testing fee, then schedule a testing date and site.
After passing the examination, to maintain certification, a pharmacy technician is required to complete 20 hours of continuing education (CE) every 2 years, with one of those hours being in pharmacy law. Most CE can be obtained for free or a modest fee by studying an accredited article pertaining to pharmacy practice and passing a test. Other CE can be obtained by performing extra duties above and beyond those that are common in the workplace, or by taking a math or science college course.
As a person interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, many community and online colleges offer courses or even associate's degrees with an emphasis on the pharmacy technician role. Having some formal education in combination with a state license and national certification will improve your chances of being hired and developing a rewarding career in pharmacy.
Michelle Goeking (BM, CPhT) has been a practicing pharmacy technician for 16 years in both community and hospital settings. She has 5 years of experience creating and directing a pharmacy technician education program at a community college, as well as writing PTCE test items for various publishers. Michelle is currently enrolled in a doctor of pharmacy program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a practicing pharmacy intern.