Everything You Need to Know About PTCB CphT Recertification

CpHT recertification with PTCB for pharmacy technicians

As any working pharmacy tech knows getting their CpHT certification is a must to work in the field, but this is not a 'one and done' undertaking. To keep the certification they worked so hard for, every pharmacy tech has to recertify their CpHT certification every two years.

Given that a working pharmacy tech is a busy person, no matter where they work, what's the best, and least expensive way to do this? And why do you have to do it at all? That's what we will look at here. 

Pharmacy Techs and the Importance of Continuing Education

One thing the medical field is not is static, and that is certainly true for the drugs and medications used to treat all kinds of conditions and for the way they are billed to insurance companies. Things change quickly in the pharmacy world, which is why continuing education for everyone who works in it is a must.

An initial pharmacy tech certification is issued by one of two governing boards in the US; the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. The exam offered by the PTCB is called the PTCE (Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam) while the ICPT exam is known as the ExCPT (Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians).

There is a lot of debate within the pharmacy community over which one of these exams 'is better' but there is no clear answer. Some states do require one over the other, while others recognize and accept both.

In general however, it's considered that the PTCB, which is the older of the two organizations, provides a rounded education geared at both retail and hospital pharmacies while the newer ICPT qualification is best for those who want to concentrate their career on working in the ever growing world of retail pharmacies.

A CpHT certification issued by either examination board is only 'good' for two years. To ensure that working pharmacy techs have all the tools and knowledge they need to do their jobs efficiently and safely, it's required that every one of them to complete the recertification process before their current qualification expires.

To do so, you must complete 20 hours of pharmacy tech specific continuing education. While the subjects can vary (more on that soon) at least one of those hours must cover the crucial subject of patient safety and another must be directly related to pharmacy law. The topics and issues covered during the remaining hours will vary according to the CE course chosen. 

How and Where Should Pharmacy Techs Complete Their CE Credits?

When it comes to finding a CE provider to take the classes required to meet the CpHT
recertification requirements neither the PTCB or the ICPT formally recommends or endorses any CE provider, so it is up to a pharmacy tech to decide for themselves which provider they want to work with.

One of the first things to keep in mind when looking for the right CE course for you is whether it is ACPE accredited. ACPE stands for Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education and this means that a course has been accessed and found to meet the standards of both the certification issuing boards.

You do not have to opt for an ACPE accredited course. Many webinars and online courses are not ACPE accredited but still offer lots of great information and learning opportunities that do fulfill the CE criteria. You will have to ensure however that you get all the documentation you'll need to prove you completed these offerings or the time spent simply won't count towards the 20 CE hours needed to recertify your CpHT. You'll be able to find out what that is by checking the website of whichever examining board you will be re-certifying with.

Convenience is something that most of us look for in life, and for a busy pharmacy tech being able to take classes close to home, or even online, is a definite plus. There are listings of providers offered on the PTCB website, but as we've mentioned before - and it states very clearly there - they do not recommend or endorse any of them. You'll find that some of the classes can be completed online, and there are state specific resources that may help you find a physical class in your area.

If you enjoy networking and hands-on learning many of the seminars and conferences offered all over the country will not only give you the chance to catch up on the latest developments and meet with fellow professionals but grant you CE credits as well. For some, those who are less fond of 'classroom learning' these events can be a great alternative. 

How Much Does CpHT Recertification Cost?

The actual cost to recertify your CpHT is $49 and is payable to the examining board. If you do not meet the application deadline associated with your certification you may also be charged a late fee, so do keep an eye on just when you need to apply in order to avoid that.

This fee does not include the cost of the CE classes you'll need to take, and those can vary significantly. There are some low-cost resources available, many online, or you can choose to take formal classroom based lessons at local trade schools or community colleges where you may find that the fees are lower than at a private school or college. Attending free webinars and seminars will often award CE credits as well and some larger employers do offer their pharmacy techs the chance to complete CE credits at their expense.

The one thing you will need to do is ensure that, as you complete them, you enter the proof of your CE credit completions into your online account at either PTCB or ICPT. Doing so will make them easier to keep track of and the recertification process easier and more efficient when you have completed your twenty hours. 

What Happens if I Don't Apply for Recertification By My Certification Expiration Date?

If you find that you can't complete the required 20 CE hours before your certification expiration date, your certification will become invalid. At that point you will then be subject to a grace period of 12 months to reinstate it before it expires for good and to work as a pharmacy tech again you would have to be certified again.

Late recertification of your CpHT will cost more in fees - around $100 - but you will not be required to complete more than the mandated 20 hours.

Can I Carry Over CE Hours to Use Toward My Next CpHT Recertification?

As we've covered, the point of the continuing education requirement for all medical professionals - including pharmacy techs - is that they remain up to date on the changes in their industry.

Every time you recertify your CpHT the CE credits you will use to obtain that recertification must have been completed within the two-year period of your latest certification. So, any additional CE credits cannot be carried over. However, if you do complete more continued education it can only help you become a better pharmacy tech, and so if you have the chance to learn more, doing so could never be considered a waste!