The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification has become an invaluable asset for pharmacy technicians looking to advance their careers. With over 700,000 certified professionals as of 2022, PTCB has established itself as the gold standard for excellence in pharmacy practice.
The Growing Significance of PTCB Certification
With the rising complexity of medications, pharmacogenomics, automation technologies, and expanding pharmacy responsibilities, there has been a push towards more rigorous standards and advanced training in the field. PTCB certification aligns with these elevated practice methodologies, signaling competency in the latest pharmacy technician skills and knowledge.
As of last year, over 700,000 pharmacy technicians have been certified by PTCB, showing just how broadly accepted and recognized it is within the pharmacy sector. The following bar chart illustrates the number of people who got certified as Pharmacy Technicians (CPhT) in the last 8 years.
From this data alone one can simply understand the increasing need for PTCB certification. Major pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid actively seek out and reward PTCB-certified techs with higher salaries and leadership opportunities. Even independent pharmacies are making the certification a mandatory credential for employment.
PTCB’s acceptance across such major industry players cements it as the clear path forward for any serious pharmacy technician. Whether in hospitals, community clinics, or retail pharmacies, techs realize the immense value PTCB certification brings in signaling their dedication to quality, expertise, and career advancement in competitive pharmacy job markets.
Reflecting this trend, the test preparation market has seen substantial growth in PTCB practice test guides and practice materials. A recent industry report found that PTCB test prep revenue increased 22% year-over-year, demonstrating the rising demand from aspiring pharmacy technicians seeking certification. This growth highlights the expanding importance of PTCB credentials to pharmacy employers and technicians alike.
Key Differences Between Certified and Non-Certified Pharmacy Techs
PTCB-certified pharmacy technicians (CPhTs) are equipped to take on much greater duties and leadership roles compared to their non-certified peers. They demonstrate thorough competency across diverse areas including:
- Medication safety and error prevention
- Quality assurance and risk mitigation
- Pharmacy workflow optimization
- Inventory management and cost controls
- Regulatory compliance and documentation
This specialized expertise allows certified techs to take on more patient-facing responsibilities. With additional training in healthcare privacy, clear communication, and ethical conduct, CPhTs can effectively counsel patients on medication usage, answer drug information questions, and free up pharmacists’ time for clinical work.
Studies show certified technicians earn nearly $2 more per hour on average compared to those without the credential. This wage premium reflects the advanced skills and knowledge PTCB-certified techs possess. Employers are willing to pay more for these qualified professionals who boost productivity, minimize risks, and enhance the quality of pharmacy services overall.
Exam Requirements and Preparation for PTCB Certification
To achieve PTCB certification, candidates must pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). This computer-based test comprises 90 multiple-choice questions covering:
- Medications and pharmaceutical knowledge
- Federal pharmacy laws, standards, ethics, and operations
- Sterile and non-sterile compounding equipment, techniques, and safety
- Procurement, billing, reimbursement, inventory systems
- Patient safety, quality assurance, and medication error prevention
While no specific training or prerequisites are required, PTCB recommends graduates of ASHP-accredited pharmacy technician programs and those with 500-1000 hours of practical pharmacy experience.
Additionally, utilizing the following resources can help significantly boost exam confidence and scores:
- PTCE study guides and test prep books
- Online courses and video tutorial series
- PTCE practice tests and mock examinations
- Study groups and exam preparation workshops
With proper planning and dedication, prospective techs from all backgrounds can pass the PTCB exam and earn their certified credentials.
Career Advancement Opportunities With PTCB Certification
The PTCB certification opens doors to new career opportunities across diverse pharmacy settings, specializations, leadership roles, and substantially higher salaries. According to industry surveys and statistics, certified technicians on average experience:
- 23% higher likelihood of assuming team lead or supervisory positions
- 15-20% increased pay for recent community college graduates with PTCB certification
- 5-15% salary increases when promoted from within after earning PTCB credentials
- Faster progression into senior roles like pharmacy buyer, inventory specialist, and compliance officer
For those seeking additional responsibilities and specializations, PTCB offers:
- Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv)
- Specialty Certifications in sterile compounding, medication therapy management, immunization delivery
These advanced designations signal expertise to qualify for prestigious positions in hospital pharmacies, oncology centers, and other specialized environments. In short, dedicated pharmacy technicians view PTCB certification as a stepping stone to maximize their career potential and establish themselves as pharmacy leaders.
Impact on Pharmacy Operations, Risks, and Patient Care
PTCB-certified technicians directly translate to a more efficient, lower-risk pharmacy operation. Their rigorous training and broad knowledge base minimize errors, enhance workflows, and boost inventory and cost controls. According to a 2019 study, accredited pharmacies employing PTCB-certified technicians demonstrated a 12% lower medication error rate compared to those relying solely on non-certified staff.
Their specialized expertise in pharmacy computer systems, documentation, and third-party billing also simplifies complex operations. Automation-powered verification and dispensing enables greater throughput with lower overhead costs. This results in pharmacist time being freed up for direct patient consultation, immunizations, medication therapy management, and other clinical duties.
With enhanced precision and competence, PTCB-certified staff build greater patient trust and prescriber confidence in the pharmacy. Their expertise signifies a commitment to safety, quality, and professional excellence to the community they serve.
PTCB Certification Provides Confidence, Purpose, and Passion
In a 2020 survey of over 1,500 CPhTs, an overwhelming majority reported how meaningful the certification was to their careers:
- 78% said PTCB certification positively impacted their job opportunities and career advancement potential
- 82% felt an increased sense of confidence in their day-to-day duties and patient interactions
- 76% would enthusiastically recommend PTCB certification to pharmacy technician students and peers
For many, PTCB certification provides a sense of achievement, instilling pride in their work. It validates the skills technicians bring to the pharmacy team to enable exceptional patient care.
The Future of PTCB Certification and Pharmacy Support Staff
The future is looking bright for PTCB-certified pharmacy technicians! With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a healthy 4% job growth from 2019 to 2029, there will be over 10,000 new pharmacy tech positions opening up. This increasing demand, along with the expanding responsibilities that come with advancing pharmacy practices, shows just how crucial PTCB-certified techs are becoming.
We’ll see pharmacists taking on more clinical roles, especially in outpatient and community settings. That means pharmacy techs will likely take over more of the prescription data entry, verification, inventory management, and patient education that pharmacists currently handle. Automation will also help transfer some of those routine technical tasks to support staff. But we’ll still need qualified professionals to oversee the technology and ensure quality care.
To keep up with all these changes, PTCB requires certified pharmacy techs to complete 20 hours of continuing education every 2 years to maintain certification. This helps make sure techs are up-to-date on the latest regulations, procedures, patient safety standards, and quality assurance models.
In a nutshell, PTCB-certified pharmacy technicians will be a crucial part of the pharmacy workforce moving forward. Their evolving role as skilled patient care enablers, operations managers, and quality controllers is becoming more and more important.
The bottom line is that PTCB certification offers huge value for both techs and employers. With pharmacy practices changing so rapidly, this credential is becoming indispensable for meeting higher standards in patient safety, operational excellence, and professional development.
For pharmacy techs who are serious about career advancement, PTCB certification can help unlock their full potential to deliver top-notch pharmaceutical care. The future’s looking bright!
Frequently Asked Questions
How often do I need to renew my PTCB certification and what’s the process?
PTCB certification must be renewed every 2 years by completing 20 hours of continuing education and paying a $40 renewal fee. CE hours can be earned through accredited pharmacy technician programs, seminars, conferences, and online courses.
What if I fail the PTCB examination? How soon can I retake it, and are there any limitations?
If you fail the PTCE, you can retake the exam after 60 days. There is no lifetime limit on retakes, but the $129 exam fee must be paid for each attempt. PTCB recommends thoroughly analyzing your score report and allowing at least 3 months of dedicated studying before re-taking the test.
Does PTCB certification guarantee higher salaries or is it just a professional credential?
While pay increases are not guaranteed, certified technicians earn an average of $2 more per hour than non-certified peers. Many employers also offer 5-15% salary increases to staff who achieve their PTCB certification. So it serves as both a valuable credential and salary negotiation tool.