Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Launches New Requirements and Exam


Starting January 2020, aspiring certified pharmacy technicians must complete a Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam-recognized education or training program, or have equivalent work experience before taking the exam.

The new year is ushering in updated requirements, and a new exam for pharmacy technician certification, according to the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The changes are based on data from the board’s most recent pharmacy Job Task Analysis.1

Starting January 2020, aspiring certified pharmacy technicians (CPhTs) must complete a PTCB-recognized education or training program, or have equivalent work experience before taking the exam. According to the organization, over 1400 programs are available for fulfilling this requirement, including all pharmacy technician programs accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)/Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education or by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.1

The alternate work experience pathway is available to experienced technicians who are not able to enroll in education or training courses. These technicians must complete at least 500 work hours and fulfill specific knowledge requirements before applying for certification.1

“The role of the technician is critical to safe pharmacy practice,” said Nicole Barriera CPhT, pharmacy technician department chair and program director at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado. “The 2020 requirements will help ensure competency and accuracy in skills, and tasks that directly affect patients.”1

Along with the updated certification requirements comes an updated Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). Whereas the previous exam had 9 knowledge domains, the new PTCE has 4 knowledge domains: medications, federal requirements, patient safety and quality assurance, and order entry and processing.1

The modifications are part of a host of PTCB initiatives, which also include new credential programs for CPhTs in advanced roles.1 According to a press release, PTCB aims to launch 3 new certificate programs in 2020: Hazardous Drug Management, Controlled Substance Diversion Prevention, and Billing and Reimbursement. These additions will bring the total number of certificate programs to 5.1

In order to earn an Advanced CPhT Certification, active CPhTs must complete at least 4 certificates, or 3 certificates and PTCB’s Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician Certification, and must have 3 years of work experience.1

Advanced roles for technicians is being increasingly discussed, as seen in a session at the ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) 54th Midyear Clinical Meeting & Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada. Attendees heard about several innovative technician roles, including quality assurance technicians, sterile compounding instructors, business systems analysts, and billing and insurance specialists.2

“Building a career ladder for pharmacy technicians is part of advancing safety and patient care,” said PTCB CEO William Schimmel, in a prepared statement. “Recognizing CPhTs for their advanced responsibilities rewards their dedication to patient care, and reinforces efficiency and safe medication practices.”1


  • New Year, New Requirements: PTCB Launches New Certification Requirements and Updated Exam [news release]. Washington, DC; Jan 14, 2020. Pharmacy Technician Certification Board website. Accessed Jan 15, 2020.
  • Murphy J. Advanced Training and Education Opportunities as a Pharmacy Technician. Pharmacy Times. Accessed Jan 15, 2020.

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