Certified vs. Registered Pharmacy Technician: What’s Best for Your Business?

First Financial Bank
Mar 12, 2021
The differences between a certified and registered technician can be confusing, but they’re important to understand when considering who will be a good fit for your pharmacy.

A pharmacy technician can easily act as the backbone of any pharmacy, so it’s important that you understand who you’re hiring and what skills they can bring to your workplace. As in any business concerned with maximizing efficiency, you’ll want to consider:

  • Qualifications: Is your technician registered in your state? Do they have national certification? What are the differences between both?
  • Education: Does the role you’re looking to fill require a special degree? Does your state have minimum education requirements for technicians?
  • Skillset: What duties do you need help with at your pharmacy, and how do you know if a prospective technician has them?

The differences between a certified and registered technician can be confusing, but they’re important to understand when considering who will be a good fit for your pharmacy. Below is a guide that helps explain the factors you should consider when planning your next hire.

Qualifications

The eligibility requirements for working as a pharmacy technician varies by state/U.S. territory:

  • 21 states plus Puerto Rico require a national certification or licensing for pharmacy technicians;
  • 24 other states plus the District of Columbia and Guam require technicians to have some form of registration or licensure; and,
  • Only five states (Delaware, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) don’t regulate technicians at all, apart from a minimum 18-year age requirement.

Certification is standardized and typically requires passing an exam administered by a credentialing agency such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcare Association (NHA). The exam itself consists of three sections on assisting pharmacists and patient services, medication and inventory management, and administration of pharmacy practices.

The main difference in qualifications between a registered and certified technician is this level of standardization. Requirements for certification, registration, and licensure vary across state lines and change on an undefined schedule.

More information about each specific state’s current pharmacy regulations can be found on the State Board of Pharmacy website.

Based on your specific requirements, you’ll want to understand what duties a certified or registered technician is capable of, or even allowed to perform in your state.

Education Differences

To be eligible to practice professionally as a registered pharmacy technician, the majority of states require at least a high school diploma or GED. Several others require formal training or the completion of a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Some states have no education requirement at all, and simply impose an 18-year-old minimum age requirement.

To earn certification, a technician needs to pass a qualifying exam given by either the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). A vast body of knowledge is typically required to pass these tests, so many certified technicians have acquired some sort of educational background or prior pharmacy work experience to achieve success.

You can visit the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board website to find additional information regarding certification requirements.

Skill Sets

Do you want your technician to be able to accept verbal orders for non-controlled drugs from a prescriber? Is it important that you have someone who can compound sterile products? Based on your specific requirements, you’ll want to understand what duties a certified or registered technician is capable of, or even allowed to perform in your state.

A PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technician is often responsible for receiving prescription requests, checking medications, labeling bottles, maintaining patient profiles, preparing insurance claims, operating dispensing systems, stocking shelves, and much more.

As a general rule of thumb, certified technicians typically have more advanced skill sets than their non-certified counterparts. The certification allows them to perform certain tasks in a pharmacy that, depending on state regulations, a solely registered technician would not be allowed to do.

If the help your pharmacy needs is more administrative, such as running cash registers, answering phones, and providing basic customer service to patients, then a registered technician may be the best fit for you. If you’re seeking more advanced assistance (and depending on your state’s requirements) a certified technician may better suit your needs.

What to Consider Next

Pharmacies are busy places, and as the role of pharmacists in the United States grows to include more direct patient care, your time has become more and more valuable.

As a pharmacist, you’re likely increasingly turning to pharmacy technicians to assume responsibility for the daily duties that keep a pharmacy running, including supply chain management, product verification, billing and reimbursement, hazardous drug management – and more. So it’s important to understand the background of the person you’re hiring to fill this role. Before making any decisions about hiring, make sure to contact your State Board of Pharmacy to learn about your state’s complete and current pharmacy regulations.

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