A Certified Pharmacy Technician is someone who has completed training and passed the ExCPT exam offered by the National Healthcareer Association.
Becoming certified is not required in all states, but most pharmacies and healthcare facilities prefer to hire certified pharmacy technicians.
Being certified can help you get a job, earn more money, and advance your career as a pharmacy technician.
This guide goes over what’s on the ExCPT exam, the requirements to take it, what you have to do to get your CPhT certification from the NHA, and more.
Overview of the NHA & CPhT Certification
The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is the largest allied health certification agency in the United States. They offer certifications in medical assisting, phlebotomy, billing and coding, electronic health records, patient care technician, and pharmacy technician.
When you get your CPhT Certification through the NHA, you show that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to work as a pharmacy technician. Most states require pharmacy technicians to earn their certification before they can start working.
Even if you work in a state that doesn’t require certification to work as a pharmacy technician, getting certified will make it easier to get a job and may help you earn a higher salary. 90% of employers require certification for pharmacy technicians.
Certified Pharmacy Technicians can work in retail pharmacies or hospitals. They can mix medications, help patients get prescriptions filled, keep the pharmacy organized, and help with billing and insurance for medications.
The only states that do not require pharmacy technicians to be certified are Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Wisconsin.
Eligibility Requirements for the NHA's ExCPT Exam
In order to take the ExCPT exam, you must have you high school diploma or GED and meet one of the following:
- Complete a pharmacy technician training/education program. If you've completed a pharmacy technician program in the last 5 years , you are eligible to take the ExCPT exam.
- 1 year of work experience (minimum of 1,200 hours). If you've worked for at least a year as a pharmacy technician (minimum of 1,200 hours), you are also eligible to take the exam even if you have not gone to school.
More About the NHA’s ExCPT Exam
There are many different options available if you want to earn your pharmacy technician certification. The NHA’s ExCPT exam is accepted by most states and employers and is one of the most commonly recognized certifications in the nation.
You must have a high school diploma or GED in addition to completing a training program or having at least 1,200 hours of experience as a pharmacy technician to be eligible for the CPhT exam.
What’s on the ExCPT Exam & Requirements to Pass
The ExCPT exam covers the basics that you need to understand in order to be a successful pharmacy technician. Knowing the basics about medication safety, pharmaceutical ethics, and customer service skills will help you in your future career.
The exam contains 120 multiple-choice questions, including 20 pretest questions that are not scored. You are allowed 2 hours and 10 minutes to complete your exam.
You will not be allowed to use a calculator or any notes during the exam.
Topics on the exam include:
Requirements to Pass the ExCPT Exam
The ExCPT exam has to be taken at a testing center, an NHA-affiliated school, or with a Live Remote Proctor.
To pass the ExCPT exam, you must answer at least 80 of the 100 scored questions correctly. You have to complete your examination within the 2-hour and 10-minute time limit.
Students who do not pass their exam the first time are allowed two additional attempts with a 30-day waiting period in between. If you do not pass on your third attempt, you must wait 12 months to be eligible to try again.
How Much the ExCPT Exam Costs
The registration fee for the ExCPT exam is $125. If you have to retake the exam, you have to pay the fee again.
To maintain your certification, there is a $55 renewal fee that must be paid every two years.
While not required, purchasing test prep materials from the NHA may help you pass your exam. You can purchase a test preparation bundle from NHA for $83.
How to Prepare for the ExCPT Exam
To help you prepare for your ExCPT exam, make sure you choose an accredited pharmacy technician training program. Attending a high-quality program will give you the best chance of passing your exam on the first try.
The NHA also offers several exam-prep tools to help you feel ready to test. Taking several practice exams before the real thing will help you identify your weaknesses and strengths, helping you focus your study time where it is most needed.
ExCPT Exam Statistics
The NHA administered 13,390 CPhT examinations in 2022. The pass rate that year was about 64%. As of 2022, there were 37,437 active ExCPT certifications in the United States.
Renewing Your CPhT Certification
After you pass your certification exam, you have to make sure you don’t let it expire. The NHA requires that CPhT certifications be renewed every two years.
To renew your certification, you must complete at least 20 hours of continuing education. One of the 20 hours must be in pharmacy law and one of the 20 hours much be in patient safety.
There is a fee of $55 that must be paid at the time of your renewal.
If you forget to renew your certification, you have one year to reinstate it. After that, you will have to retake your certification exam.
How to Become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) Through the NHA
Becoming a Certified Pharmacy Technician is a great way to get started in the healthcare industry.
You can become a Certified Pharmacy Technician by following these steps:
- Complete an accredited program. You must complete an NHA-approved program before you will be eligible to take your exam. Most pharmacy technician programs take around 4 months to 2 years to complete depending on the type. Alternatively, you can work for 1,200 as a pharmacy technician and submit proof of these hours to the NHA. You can learn more about how much pharmacy technician classes cost here.
- Apply for your exam. To apply for your exam, you must create an NHA account and apply through your account portal. You will have to pay the $125 fee at the time of application.
- Choose an exam date. Give yourself enough time to study and prepare when you choose an exam date. You can schedule your exam at an approved testing center or take your exam from home with an online proctor.
- Study. The NHA exam has a pass rate of around 64%. It is not a test you will be able to pass without studying. Taking practice exams is one of the best ways to prepare for your test.
- Take your test. On the day of your test, make sure you arrive at the testing center or log in to your proctored exam with plenty of time to spare. You do not need to bring a calculator or any notes to the exam center. You have a little over 2 hours to complete your exam.
- Get your results. You will be able to see your exam results immediately after completing your test. Your official results will be sent to you about 48 hours later.
- Apply for jobs. Pharmacy technicians are in high demand all over the United States. You can apply for jobs on websites like Indeed and Monster. Some pharmacy technician training programs will help you create a resume and apply for jobs.
- Maintain your certification. After you get a job as a pharmacy technician, don’t forget to maintain your certification. You must renew your CPhT certification every two years.
>> Read More: Steps Required to Become a Pharmacy Technician
What is a Certified Pharmacy Technician & What Do They Do?
A certified pharmacy technician is someone who helps manage medications in a retail pharmacy or hospital. They can help patients get the medicine they need and make sure they understand how to use their medications safely.
Responsibilities of a pharmacy technician include:
- Stock, organize, and label medications
- Monitor medication inventory and report any discrepancies
- Compound medications maintaining accurate concentrations
- Sterilize equipment and medication preparation surfaces
- Assist the pharmacist with their responsibilities
- Fill customer orders and answer questions
- Double-check medication names and doses
- Keep accurate electronic records of all medications dispensed
- Handle insurance claims and resolve problems as they arise
- Comply with all pharmacy laws and ethics
- Process prescriptions for each customer
Certified Pharmacy Technician Salaries & Job Outlook
The average salary for a certified pharmacy technician is $37,790 per year or a little over $18 per hour. Pharmacy technicians without experience may start out earning $29,000 per year, but experienced techs may earn as much as $50,640 in some areas.
Indeed.com shows an average salary of $19.90 for Certified Pharmacy Technicians.
Pharmacy technician jobs are expected to increase by 6% between 2022 and 2032. This is double the average job outlook for all occupations in the U.S.