Certification Program

The PTCB Certification Program is the most widely accepted national certification program for pharmacy technicians. As of December 31, 2016, PTCB has granted 618,408 certifications since 1995 through the examination and transfer process.

Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE): New PTCB Job Analysis Study

During 2016, PTCB conducted a Job Analysis Study to collect updated information on work being performed by pharmacy technicians. PTCB conducts such a study approximately every 5 years to guide updates in PTCE exam content and PTCB’s requirements for the CPhT credential. Two surveys, one on tasks performed by pharmacy technicians and a second survey of knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) required to perform the pharmacy technician job effectively, were distributed based on a respondent’s years of work experience. In total, 20,786 individuals completed the task survey and 23,626 completed the KSAO survey.

PTCB designed the 2016 Job Analysis to identify exam content that would be applicable to all practice settings. As a result, knowledge areas related to sterile compounding and billing/reimbursement were removed as the final recommendation.

The new PTCE exam blueprint is expected to be implemented during 2018. Job Analysis results will guide PTCB in assessing what pre-certification educational requirements may be appropriate.

Based on the results of the Analysis, test questions in future editions of the PTCE will be distributed across four domains, rather than the nine in the current PTCE. They will be: medications (40%), patient safety and quality assurance (26%), order entry and processing (21%), and federal requirements (13%). The new exam will focus on core KSAOs relevant to entry-level practice in both of the largest sectors of pharmacy: community/retail and hospital/health-system practice. The new PTCE exam blueprint is expected to be implemented during 2018. Job Analysis results will guide PTCB in assessing what pre-certification educational requirements may be appropriate.

Exam Date Exams Administered Passed Exams Pass Rate
2011 51,632 39,229 76%
2012 51,762 39,729 77%
2013 54,245 41,316 76%
2014 53,508 30,358 57%
2015 56,253 31,823 57%
2016 53,353 30,872 58%
Total for
850,453 611,744 72%
Total Who Passed PTCE 611,738
Total Certified via Transfer Process* 6,670
Total PTCB Certifications Granted 618,408

*Pharmacy technicians who were granted certification in 1995 through a one-time transfer process that recognized their state organization credentials.


New Official PTCE Practice Tools

In September, PTCB released two new PTCE practice tools: the updated Official PTCB® Practice Exam; and the Official PTCB® Calculations Practice Questions app, a math practice tool PTCB offered for the first time. Both are available at ptcb.org/practice.

Updated Official PTCB Practice Exam: The updated Official PTCB® Practice Exam has the look and feel of the PTCE and provides an experience much like taking the actual exam. Subject matter experts wrote and reviewed it, and real test takers piloted it. After completion, practice exam takers have the option to log in to view their results, including correct and incorrect answers, with explanations for each. They are allowed 24 hours of post-exam review time within their 90-day exam delivery window. The Practice Exam price is $29, with bulk discounts offered to PTCB Advocate Educators and Employers.

Official PTCB® Calculations Practice Questions App: The first Official PTCB® Calculations Practice Questions App was released September 27. The app features 90 questions that have appeared on the actual PTCE and represent calculations commonly performed by pharmacy technicians. Questions were selected from previous live PTCE exam questions that reflect a variety of calculation types, strong item performance, and a style similar to the current PTCE. App users can take advantage of step-by-step explanations at the end of the practice questions. The price is $14.99.

Practice Tools

Advanced Certification Program Development: Specialty Certification in Sterile Compounding

During 2016, the PTCB Sterile Compounding Task Force met to develop tasks and job-related KSAOs that an individual must have to perform successfully as a pharmacy technician in sterile compounding. Toward this goal, PTCB invited approximately 9,000 sterile compounding technicians across the country to complete a Job Analysis survey. In addition, PTCB conducted focus group research during the year. The task force will meet in 2017 to finalize exam content blueprints for the new program. In the future, PTCB will develop an additional certification program in advanced community pharmacy practice.

Certification Council

The PTCB Certification Council administers all aspects of PTCB’s Certification Program, including policy and procedure development and execution. During 2016, the Council met twice in person and held two meetings by conference call. Council members voted for policy changes in several areas, including updates to the PTCE retake policy, adding an allowance for CE credit earned through certain PTCB volunteer activities, and approving the opening of additional test centers in Nebraska to support the new certification requirement.

Recertification Update

New Recertification Deadlines Implemented in January

Following a year-long communications campaign, PTCB implemented a new recertification schedule in January 2016 for all active PTCB CPhTs. Throughout the year, PTCB sent messages, letters, and reminders to individual CPhTs grouped by monthly expiration date.

New Window: The ‘Recertification Window’ opens 60 days (formerly 100 days) before a CPhT’s certification expiration date.

New Deadline: Applications must be submitted by the first day of the certification expiration month or a $25 late fee is charged. This day is the ‘Application Deadline’.

New Late Fee: Applications submitted after the Application Deadline incur a $25 late fee.

PTCB added nine recertification deadlines for a total of 12 per year. The increased number of deadlines helps facilitate application submission and processing for CPhTs.

CPhT Discipline Alerts from NABP Clearinghouse

In August, PTCB began receiving alerts from a centralized multi-state database of disciplinary records. These alerts allow PTCB to investigate individual circumstances to indentify PTCB Code of Conduct violations.