Chapter One

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Pharmacy Technician Certification Testing Services

Pharmacy technician certification helps create a standard by which pharmacy technicians can be held accountable, as well as common ground for continuing education. When a pharmacy hires a certified pharmacy technician, it knows the employee has an established skill set to effectively work in the pharmacy.

There are two recognized national pharmacy technician certification examinations:  the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), which is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT), offered by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT).

These examinations will test your knowledge and skills sets in three primary areas:

  • Helping the pharmacist serve patients
  • Maintaining inventory and medication control systems
  • Pharmacy practices, management and administration

As of 2010, the PTCE test has 100 multiple-choice questions, each of which has four choices with only one accurate answer. It’s a good idea to answer every question, even if you’re not certain of the answer, because final results are based upon the number of correct answers. You are given two hours to finish the PTCE.

The ExCPT test has 90 multiple-choice questions. Like the PTCE test, there are four possible
answers, but only one correct answer. Both tests offer questions in a random order.

Studying for the Exam

Use this book as a guideline to develop a topical study plan. Remember this book should be used in conjunction with your pharmacy technician education and on-the-job-training; it is not designed to act as a stand-alone guide for the pharmacy technician certification exam.

  • Aseptic technique
  • Antibiotic reconstitution
  • Calculations

– Weight
– Volume
– Temperature
– Time
– Additives
– Ratios and percentages
– Dose changes
– Prescription pricing

  • Compounding

– Terminology
– Equipment
– Types of compounding solutions
– IV setting

  • Customer service skills
  • Drugs

– Interactions and incompatibilities
– Disposal and storage requirements
– Trade names
– Generic names
– Commonly used drugs
– Formulations

  • Duties a pharmacy technician may or may not perform
  • Formularies
  • Monitoring and systems of medication distribution

– Purchasing procedures, practices and policies
– Dosage forms
– Packaging
– Quality assurance

  • Pharmacy administration

– Written prescription requirements
– Prescription label requirements
– Internal polices, regulations and procedures

  • Pharmacy law

– Controlled substances
– Federal regulations
– State regulations

The practice tests in this book will help you study for the exam and provide examples of potential questions. Make note of questions and topics that you don’t understand or about which you need more information.

Pharmacy Technician Certification Testing Services

Most states require or will require pharmacy technician certification. Even if your state does not currently require certification, it can demonstrate to your employer that you are a competent professional. As of January 2011, there are two national organizations that offer pharmacy technician certification; you only need to successfully pass one of these tests as recognized by the state in which you plan to practice.

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) offers the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). It is currently recognized by 45 state boards of pharmacy.


  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old
  • High school degree or G.E.D.
  • No denial by any state board of pharmacy
  • No drug- or pharmacy-related convictions
  • No felony convictions
  • Application fee of $129.00

The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) offers the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT). It is recognized by 32 state boards of pharmacy.


  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old
  • High school degree or G.E.D.
  • No felony convictions
  • Registration fee of $105.00

The following table can be used to identify if certification is required yet in your state and also which testing service (or both) are approved. States marked with (*) enforce a minimum certified to non-certified technician ratio.

State Certificate Required Approved Test Approved Test
Alabama Optional* Approved Approved
Alaska Optional Approved Approved
Arizona Yes Approved Seeking Approval
Arkansas Optional Approved Approved
California Optional Approved Seeking Approval
Colorado Optional Seeking Approval
Connecticut Yes Approved Approved
Delaware Optional Approved
Florida Yes (1/1/10) Approved
Georgia Optional Approved
Hawaii Optional
Idaho Yes Approved Approved
Illinois Yes Approved Approved
Indiana Yes Approved Approved
Iowa Yes Approved Approved
Kansas Yes Approved Approved
Kentucky Optional Approved Approved
Louisiana Yes Approved Seeking Approval
Maine Optional* Approved Approved
Maryland Yes Approved Approved
Massachusetts Optional* Approved Approved
Michigan Optional Approved
Minnesota Optional* Approved Approved
Mississippi Optional Approved Approved
Missouri Optional Approved Approved
Montana Yes Approved Approved
Nebraska Optional Approved Approved
Nevada Yes Approved Approved
New Hampshire Optional Approved Approved
New Jersey Yes Approved Approved
New Mexico Yes Approved Approved
New York Optional Approved
North Carolina Optional* Approved Seeking Approval
North Dakota Optional Approved Approved
Ohio Yes Approved Approved
Oklahoma Optional Approved Approved
Oregon Yes Approved Approved
Pennsylvania Optional Approved Approved
Rhode Island Yes Approved Approved
South Carolina Yes Approved Approved
South Dakota Optional Approved Approved
Tennessee Optional* Approved Approved
Texas Yes Approved Seeking Approval
Utah Yes Approved Approved
Vermont Optional Approved Approved
Virginia Yes Approved Approved
Washington Yes Approved Approved
West Virginia Optional Approved Approved
Wisconsin Optional Approved
Wyoming Yes Approved Seeking Approval


Scheduling the Test

The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) and The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) use electronic testing services to administer their certification processes.

The PTCB uses Pearson Vue as its test administration service.  It has over 5,000 test centers in 165 countries. More information about Pearson Vue test centers, locations and test scheduling can be found on their website.

The ICPT offers the ExPCT and uses Lasergrade as its test administration service.  Lasergrade has over 800 testing centers in North America. More information about Lasergrade test locations and scheduling can be found on their website.

Taking the Test

While everyone’s testing experience is different, there are some common experiences most exam takers share. It’s a good idea to arrive 30 minutes before your test is scheduled to start so you have enough time to check in. You will be asked for at least one form of current photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport and you may be asked to provide a digital fingerprint. If you are taking the PTCB exam, you must bring your Authorization to Test letter to your examination. Personal items such as cellphones, purses or bags are not allowed in the testing area; test takers are typically given a locker in which to secure their belongings.

You will be given laminated paper and a dry erase marker or paper and pencil to help you with calculations during the test, as well as access to a calculator; you must submit these materials to the proctor at the end of your exam.

Both the PTCB and ExPCT test last two hours; questions are not permitted during either exam.

People with disabilities who need special accommodations can make arrangements with either testing company; supporting documentation may be required.

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