What you need to know about the PTCB Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam

Student taking the PTCB Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam.

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board uses this test, which is actually called the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) as one of the four requirements for certification as a pharmacy technician. The test was designed as a result of a job analysis study conducted by the PTCB that determined the knowledge and skills needed to work as a pharmacy technician. It consists of 90 multiple-choice questions with four answer choices. Ten of the questions are not scored, but you will not know which ones as you take the test.

The PTCB Exam poses questions about nine “knowledge domains” in the area of pharmacy. Here is a list of them and the approximate percentage of questions on the actual test that deal with each. You will notice that we have a corresponding section of practice questions and flashcards, as well as a study guide on each of these sections to help you prepare.

  • Pharmacology for Technicians: 13.75%
  • Pharmacy Law and Regulations: 12.50%
  • Sterile and Non-sterile Compounding: 8.75%
  • Medication Safety: 12.50%
  • Pharmacy Quality Assurance: 7.50%
  • Medication Order Entry and Fill Process: 17.50%
  • Pharmacy Inventory Management: 8.75%
  • Pharmacy Billing and Reimbursement: 8.75%
  • Pharmacy Information Systems Usage and Application: 10.00%

What are the costs?

The basic fee for the PTCB initial certification test is $129.00. There are also fees for recertification ($40.00), reinstatement ($80.00), and various reprocessing and late application submission occurrences. See page 13 of this booklet for details.

What should I bring?

Be sure to bring a government-issued photo ID to the PTCB Exam session. You will not be allowed to take the exam without one and you will lose all prepaid fees. There is a list of suitable documents on page 18 here.

No personal items are allowed in the testing room, but there will be a secure area in which to store them while you test. These include all items in the pockets of your clothing, which may be checked. Do not include valuables in the items you store because the testing center is not responsible for their safety. You should come by yourself to the testing center as other individuals will not be allowed to come inside.

The test administrator will provide paper or a surface on which to make notes and calculations during the exam, so do not bring scratch paper or writing instruments. There are more details about permitted items and “comfort items” that are allowed in the testing room on pages 19 through 21 of this booklet.

How is it scored?

The score you receive on the PTCB Exam will range from 1000 to 1600. You must score 1400 or more to pass this test. The score is a scaled score, meaning that each item has been reviewed by experts, based on the percentage of qualified pharmacy technicians that would be able to answer it correctly. Then, an average was obtained of all items and a passing score was established.

Test scores may be accessed online about 1 to 3 weeks after the test session. You may also arrange to have your scores emailed to the address you entered when you applied to take the test. Candidates may appeal a failing score one time by paying a $50 fee to have a test rescored by hand. This process takes 4 to 6 additional weeks.

What kind of job can I get?

Becoming certified as a pharmacy technician can be the beginning of a solid career path that is predicted to experience growth in the next 10 years, according to U.S. News and World Report. Pharmacy technician is listed there as a job that provides above average upward mobility, including foundation learning for continuing your education to become a licensed pharmacist. Flexibility in schedule is also listed as a positive aspect of this job. There are also many different work settings, including larger stores, smaller pharmacies, and hospitals.

Am I eligible?

As long as you satisfy the four certification requirements of the PTCB Exam, you can become certified as a pharmacy technician and earn the title of CPhT (Certified Pharmacy Technician). This includes being subject to further investigation by the PTCB. If, at any time, you are involved in criminal activities, State Board of Pharmacy registration or licensure actions, or violation of PTCB Certification policies, you will then be disqualified for certification.

The PTCB Exam may be retaken if you do not receive a passing score, but you must wait 60 days between the testing sessions for the first through third attempts and each test requires the same testing fee. There is a 6-month waiting period between exam attempts after the third try. If, after attempting a passing score four times, your scores are still deficient, you will be required to show proof of acceptable remediation accomplished after the final testing attempt. There are further details about remediation on page 23, here.

Why does it matter?

To become a pharmacy technician, you must be certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Becoming certified as a pharmacy technician requires you to obtain a passing score on the PTCB Exam and satisfy these three other requirements:

  • possess a high school diploma or its equivalent
  • fully disclose all criminal and State Board of Pharmacy registration/licensure actions
  • comply with all PTCB Certification policies

So, earning a passing score on this test is one of the keys to your future as a certified pharmacy technician.

What salary can I expect?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a pharmacy technician is between $29,000 and $42,000, depending greatly on the pharmacy location. Higher salaries tend to be in place at pharmacies located in general hospitals. The highest paying pharmacy technician jobs involve working in places like outpatient care centers and in federal government positions. Pharmacies located in grocery stores tend to offer the lowest pay rates.

When is it available?

The PTCB Exam is administered at Pearson Vue test centers across the United States. You can apply to take it online here and will then be given the opportunity to schedule your test. The scheduling permit is only good for 90 days, so don’t apply for it until it is within 90 days of the date you wish to test.

How much time is allowed?

The testing time is about 2 hours, of which 10 minutes is devoted to a pre-exam tutorial and a post-exam survey.

Practice using our expertly crafted questions!