Have you ever thought about becoming a pharmacy technician or going to pharmacy school? In order to become a pharmacy technician you have to be 18+ and pass something called The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) otherwise known as The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) . The PTCB is required in 46 states and is not hard to pass as long as you have the right tools and time to study. I passed my exam, so I figured why not help you out.
When arriving at the testing center, all you will need is a photo ID. They provided me with a calculator and scratch paper to ensure that no one was cheating.
The exam consists of 90 questions and is on a scale of 1000 to 1600, a 1400 is considered passing. Luckily, only 80 questions are graded because 10 are randomly thrown out. You are allotted 120 minutes to complete the test which is online and multiple choice. Luckily, the program allows you to flag questions and go back for further review at the end. Once the review is complete, it will give you a preliminary pass or fail print out and your official results will be given in 1-3 weeks, explaining which questions you got wrong.
Topics covered on the exam and their break down:
- Pharmacology for Technicians (13.75%)
- Pharmacy Law and Regulations (12.5%)
- Sterile and Non-Sterile Compounding (8.75%)
- Medication Safety (12.5%)
- Pharmacy Quality Assurance (7.5%)
- Medication Order Entry and Fill Process (17.5%)
- Pharmacy Inventory Management (8.75%)
- Pharmacy Billing and Reimbursement (8.75%)
- Pharmacy Information System Usage and Application (10%)
There are lots of materials and apps out there that claim to be the best. However, I’ll tell you what worked best for me.
I read the PTCB Exam Study Guide 2015-2016: PTCB Exam Study Book and Practice Test Questions for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Examination by Trivium Test Prep ($35). It is broken down into five chapters and tells you almost everything you need to know about the exam.
I also used the official PTCB application by Pocket Prep which was $10 from the app store and had over 800 questions and customized practice exams for whenever I wanted to study and didn’t have my book.
Finally, I made a Quizlet with all of the mathematical conversions, medical terminology, drug names, classes, uses, and adverse effects. (I’ll post the link to this as soon as I take it off private).
SCHEDULING YOUR EXAM
Go online to ptcb.org and make sure you’re in the Get Certified tab. Click on apply for certification and you’ll need to create a profile. It will ask you personal/demographic questions and then you’ll need to complete your application. The application comes with a $130 fee which actually counts for your testing fee. Once your application is approved they will send you an ID number and then you can schedule your exam. You can schedule your exam online or over the phone. I found that the phone was easier, but to each their own. The phone number to call and schedule your exam is +1(866)902-0593 which is the Pierson VUE Center.
ADVICE AND OUTLOOK
If you do all of the above diligently, I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll pass your exam with flying colors. I recommend studying up to two to three weeks in advance, maybe more depending on your lifestyle. A pharmacy technician can expect to earn from $12-$18 an hour, but there is room for expansion if you specialize in various drug preparation methods such as compounding or chemotherapy. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), employment rates for pharmacy technicians are expected to increase more than 9% between 2012 and 2022.
Best of Luck! You’re going to kill it!