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Technician Certifications

As required by the Iowa regulations, pharmacy technicians need to become nationally certified within one year of registering with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy. Certified pharmacy technicians (CPhTs) are employed in traditional as well as innovative practice models across the state. CPhTs allow pharmacies to expand services and enhance patient care, and gives pharmacists more time to spend with patients, providing drug information, answering questions and promoting compliance with medication regimens. Certification provides the public and pharmacists with greater confidence in their pharmacies.

Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCE) – Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The PTCE is a computer-based exam administered at Pearson VUE test centers nationwide. The PTCE is a two-hour, multiple-choice, exam that contains 90 questions (80 scored questions and 10 unscored questions). Each question is shown with four possible answers, only one of which is the correct or best answer. Unscored questions are not identified and are randomly distributed throughout the exam. A candidate’s exam score is based on the responses to the 80 scored questions. One hour and 50 minutes are allotted for answering the exam questions and 10 minutes for a tutorial and post-exam survey.

The PTCE assesses knowledge critical to pharmacy technician practice organized into nine knowledge domains, each with a number of 'knowledge areas' or sub-domains. Refer to the full guidebook for more detail.

The PTCE, operated by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), certification program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). More than 500,000 technicians have been certified by PTCB in the United States, including over 3,500 in Iowa alone.

Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT) – National Healthcareer Association
The ExCPT is a computerized exam composed of 120 multiple choice questions. Twenty of the 120 questions are pre-test questions. These questions will not count towards your final score. The remaining 100 questions fall under four general areas:
1. Overview and Laws 25 items
2. Drugs and Drug Therapy 15 items
3. Dispensing Process 45 items
4. Medication Safety and Quality Assurance 15 items
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). This program was established by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) which is now a part of NHA.

Continuing Education Requirements for Re-Certification:
NHA CPhTs must complete a minimum of twenty (20) hours of continuing education in pharmacy-related subject matter during each two (2) year recertification cycle. For recertification candidates, one (1) hour of the twenty (20) hours must be in the subject of pharmacy law and one (1) hour must be in the subject of patient safety (refer to Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) definition of patient safety, defined in the ACPE Policy and Procedures Manual.

Pharmacy-related subject matter includes the following topics:

  • Medication distribution
  • Inventory control systems
  • Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Pharmaceutical sciences
  • Pharmacy law
  • Pharmacology/drug therapy
  • Roles and duties of pharmacy technicians
  • Patient safety
CPhTs must complete all continuing education hours within the two (2) year recertification cycle (on or before the expiration date). No CE hours completed before certification is granted may be used to satisfy recertification requirements. CE hours can only be applied to the recertification cycle in which they are completed, and cannot be carried over and applied to future cycles.

Other Educational Resources:
CPE Monitor
CPE Monitor is a collaborative service from NABP and ACPE that provides an electronic system for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to track their completed CPE credits. It also streamlines reporting and compliance verification for participating boards of pharmacy.

CEimpact's Mission is to be a leader in providing innovative live and web-based continuing pharmacy education (CPE) in the areas of preceptor development, health care quality, immunization administration, health coaching, and up to date clinical, management, law and patient safety activities which assist pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in advancing their continuing professional development (CPD).