Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming about being part of the pharmacy world?

Maybe you’ve imagined being that friendly face behind the counter, helping people get the right meds with a smile.

Well, guess what? We’re about to dive into a topic that might just make that daydream a reality – Pharmacy Technician License vs Certification!

Now, you might be wondering about the differences between a Pharmacy Technician License and a Certification. You’re not alone! It’s like the classic case of ‘two terms, one profession,’ and we’re here to untangle the mystery for you.

In this article, you will be understanding the difference between a Licensed and Certified Pharmacy Technician.

So, let’s get right into it.

Read more to know about:
How To Become a Pharmacy Technician
How to Get Pharmacy Technician Certificate
How To Get Pharmacy Technician License

pharm tech license

What It Means to Be a Certified Pharmacy Technician?

To become a certified pharmacy tech (CPhT), you have to pass a test and meet certain requirements. The test checks how well you can do tasks like giving out medicines, managing supplies, and helping customers.

If you pass the test, it means you have enough skills to be a certified pharmacy technician. Two groups give out this certification: the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the National Healthcareer Association.

Know more: How to Become a Certified Pharmacy Technician

Certification Through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)

Getting certified as a pharmacy technician means that you have met certain qualifications and passed a test.

But how to get certified? 

Two organizations offer certification: the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

To get certified through the PTCB, you need to have completed a training program recognized by the PTCB or have at least 500 hours of experience as a Pharmacy Technician.

These organizations also want to know if you have been involved in any criminal actions or violations related to the State Board of Pharmacy. If you meet these requirements, you can take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) at a testing center.

The PTCE is a computer-based test with 90 multiple-choice questions. It covers topics like medications, federal requirements, patient safety, and order processing. It takes about two hours to finish.

Certification Through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

If you want to get certified through the NHA, you need to have a high school diploma and either complete a pharmacy technician training program within the past five years or have one year of supervised pharmacy work experience with at least 1,200 hours.

You can choose the date and location for your certification exam either online.

The NHA’s certification exam, called the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT), has 100 questions and takes around two hours and 10 minutes to complete.

It tests your knowledge of overview and laws, drugs and drug therapy, dispensing process, and medication safety.

Now that you know about certification, let’s talk about licenses.

pharm technician certification

What It Means to Be a Licensed Pharmacy Technician

  • A licensed pharmacy technician is a person who is registered to do this job in their state.
  • Each state has different requirements for licensing pharmacy technicians.
  • Licensing is given by the state’s governing body, such as the Board of Pharmacy or the Department of Consumer Protection.
  • In Florida, the Florida Board of Pharmacy has the regulatory power to issue licenses. To get a license, you must be at least 17 years old and complete an approved training program.
    You also need to provide documents about your previous licenses, mental health history, and criminal history.
  • In Michigan, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) handles licensing. To apply, you need to finish a high school diploma.

You must also provide scores from a pharmacy technician certification exam or show that you were licensed in another state before applying.

Other requirements include passing a background check, having good character, and completing human trafficking training.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy helps you find the regulatory agency for your state. Their website has contact information and newsletters that you can download.

The Differences Between a Pharm Tech License and a Certification, Simplified

The main difference between a pharmacy tech certification and a license is what they mean.

  • When you’re certified, it shows that you have learned the basics of being a pharmacy tech and can do your job well.
  • On the other hand, if you’re licensed, it means you have officially registered with your state and met all the requirements, including the paperwork to work as a pharmacy tech.
  • These requirements can include having a good record in your job, not having a criminal history, and other things like that.

One more thing to note here is that you have to get certified to get a license, but you don’t need a license to get certified.

Some organizations that give licenses need you to show that you finished a training program and passed a certification test. However, the PTCB and NHA don’t require a license to take their certification exams.

Similarities Between Pharm Tech License and Certification

Pharmacy technician licensing and certifications have major differences, as we discussed before, however, they also have some similarities.

First off, both of them show that you are committed to being a pharmacy technician.

Let us discuss some similarities in detail.

Getting certified implies that you have completed the necessary training or have the experience required for the Pharmacy Technician Job.

Read more: Pharmacy Technician Job Description

On the other hand, When you obtain a license, it shows that you have filled out the required paperwork and met your state’s requirements to work as a pharmacy technician.

Having both a pharmacy tech license and certification can work well together and enhance your resume, which will ultimately enhance your prospects in the healthcare industry.

 medical healthcare

Do You Need a License or Certification to Work as a Pharmacy Tech?

This is one of the most common dilemmas faced among aspiring Pharmacy Technicians.

Let us shed some light on it.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that different states have different rules for pharmacy technician jobs. Some states may require certification or a license, while others may not.

So it’s important to check with your state to find out if you need certification or a license to work as a pharmacy technician.

Even if it’s not required, having certification or a license can help you get a job as a pharmacy technician. It shows employers that you have the necessary skills and have met the requirements set by the state.


1) What does it mean to be a certified pharmacy tech? 

Being a certified pharmacy technician means that you have passed a test to show that you have basic skills in pharmacy technology. The test is conducted by either the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

2) What does it mean to be a licensed pharm tech?

A licensed pharmacy technician has met the state requirements and registered himself with the state’s regulatory agency to work as a pharmacy technician.

3) What’s the difference between a pharmacy tech license and a pharmacy tech certification? 

Pharmacy technician certification means that you have successfully cleared a test to show your skills, while a pharmacy tech license means that the state has permitted you to do pharmacy technician work.

4) Do I have to be certified to work as a pharmacy technician?

Certification is not necessary in every state. You have to understand the state’s requirements where you will be working as a Pharmacy Technician. It also depends on the employer. Some employers may ask you for a certification to work.

5) Do I have to be licensed to work as a pharmacy tech?

Each state has its own rules and regulations. You have to check the State’s Board of Pharmacy to learn more about the requirements for a Pharmacy Technician License.

Read more FAQs related to Pharmacy Technician: Pharmacy Technician FAQ

Additional sources:

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Pharmacy Technician vs Pharmacist
Pros and Cons Of Being a Pharmacy Technician
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Pharmacy Technician Facts
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Pharmacy Technician Training
Pharmacy Technician Programs

About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.