Registered Pharmacy Technician vs Certified

Registered Pharmacy Technician vs Certified

Registered Pharmacy Technician vs Certified: What’s the Difference?

The terms “registered pharmacy technician” and “certified pharmacy technician” are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences between the two credentials. This article will explain what each designation means and help you determine which is right for your career goals.

Delve into the 9 important differences in pharmacy technician questions in our latest article: Pharmacy Technician Questions: 9 Important Differences

Overview of Pharmacy Technician Credentials

Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in various settings like retail pharmacies, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. They perform duties like preparing medications, taking prescriptions over the phone, verifying insurance information, and managing inventory.

There are two main credentials that pharmacy techs can obtain – registration and certification. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Registered pharmacy technician – Completes on-the-job training or an accredited education program and registers with their state’s Board of Pharmacy.
  • Certified pharmacy technician – Passes a national certification exam through an accredited organization like the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Now let’s take a deeper dive into the differences between these two designations.

The job opportunities for CPhTs are typically better than the job opportunities for RPhTs. This is because CPhTs have a higher level of education and certification, which makes them more marketable to employers.

— Registered Pharmacy Technician vs Certified

Registered Pharmacy Technician vs Certified: Key Differences

While registered and certified pharmacy techs both work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, there are some notable differences:


  • Registered: On-the-job training or completion of an accredited pharmacy tech program. Coursework covers topics like medical terminology, pharmacy law, calculations, and more.
  • Certified: Must complete an accredited education program or have relevant work experience before sitting for the certification exam.


  • Registered: No exam required.
  • Certified: Must pass a national certification exam like the PTCB or NHA. This tests knowledge on pharmacy processes, medications, healthcare, calculations, and regulations.

State Registration

  • Registered: Must register with their state’s Board of Pharmacy. This requires a background check and often an application fee.
  • Certified: Registration with their state is recommended but not required in most states.


  • Registered: Requirements vary by state but often include continuing education credits and renewing state registration.
  • Certified: Must earn continuing education credits and pay a renewal fee to maintain national certification status.


  • Registered: State registration only allows pharmacy techs to work in that particular state.
  • Certified: Nationally recognized so can work as a pharmacy technician in any state, assuming requirements are met.

Employer Preference

  • Registered: Acceptable for entry-level hospital and retail pharmacy positions.
  • Certified: Often required for advanced roles like pharmacy buyer, supervisor, or IV compounding. Seen as more knowledgeable and skilled.

RPhTs are not required to pass a certification exam, while CPhTs must pass a comprehensive exam administered by a recognized credentialing agency.

— Registered Pharmacy Technician vs Certified

Which Should You Choose?

If you’re trying to decide between pursuing registration or certification, here are a few things to consider:

  • Career goals – Certification provides more opportunities for advancement and often leads to higher pay. It’s required for supervisory roles and jobs in specialty pharmacy areas.
  • Mobility – Certification allows you to work in any state without having to re-register. This provides more flexibility if you want to relocate.
  • Employer requirements – Some states and employers require national certification, even if state registration would otherwise suffice.
  • Cost – Registration is generally less expensive than certification, which requires exam fees and renewal costs. But certification leads to higher earnings potential.
  • Effort – Certification requires more time commitment upfront for education and exam preparation. Registration may be faster if you opt for on-the-job training.

How to Become Registered vs. Certified

If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided which option aligns with your goals, here is a step-by-step overview of how to achieve each:

Registered Pharmacy Technician

  1. Earn a high school diploma or equivalent.
  2. Complete on-the-job training or an accredited pharmacy technician education program.
  3. Apply for state registration through your state’s Board of Pharmacy – requirements and costs vary by state.
  4. Undergo a criminal background check as part of the registration process.
  5. Maintain your registration by completing the required continuing education credits each year.

Certified Pharmacy Technician

  1. Earn a high school diploma or equivalent.
  2. Complete an accredited education program or gain relevant work experience (often 1 year minimum).
  3. Study for and pass a PTCB or NHA exam to become nationally certified.
  4. Register with the Board of Pharmacy in your state (recommended).
  5. Renew certification every 2 years by completing continuing education credits and paying a renewal fee.

No matter which path you take, on-the-job training will be required to master your role. Both registered and certified pharmacy techs learn specialized skills under the supervision of seasoned pharmacists.

The future outlook for pharmacy technicians is positive. The demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to grow in the coming years, due to the increasing complexity of medication regimens and the growing number of elderly people who need medication assistance.

— Registered Pharmacy Technician vs Certified

Registered Pharmacy Technician vs Certified: Key Facts

Education requirementsHigh school diploma or equivalentHigh school diploma or equivalent, plus formal training or experience in a pharmacy setting
Certification examNot requiredRequired
Scope of practiceVaries from state to stateTypically broader than RPhTs
Job opportunitiesTypically fewer than CPhTsTypically more than RPhTs
Salary potentialTypically lower than CPhTsTypically higher than RPhTs
Responsibility and autonomyTypically less than CPhTsTypically more than RPhTs
Professional development opportunitiesFewer than CPhTsMore than RPhTs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a licensed pharmacist vs a certified pharmacy technician?

Pharmacists have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and license to prescribe and dispense medications. Techs assist pharmacists under their supervision. Only pharmacists can counsel patients.

What states require national certification for pharmacy technicians?

States that require PTCB or NHA certification include Arizona, Florida, Iowa, North Dakota, Oregon, Virginia, and more. Other states allow registration without certification.

Can I take the PTCB exam without formal training?

Yes, the PTCB exam is open to anyone regardless of education or experience. But accredited schooling and on-the-job hours are highly recommended to pass.

What kind of jobs require registered pharmacy technician vs certified?

Certification is required for advanced roles like IV compounding, pharmacy buyer, supervisor, and jobs in major hospitals. Retail and entry-level positions often accept registration.

How much more do certified pharmacy techs make than registered?

According to Payscale, certified techs earn a median annual salary of $36,697 vs $31,357 for registered techs. The PTCB credential can boost earnings potential.

What are the benefits of becoming a certified pharmacy technician?

  • Increased job opportunities
  • Higher salary potential
  • More responsibility and autonomy
  • Enhanced professional development opportunities

Important Takeaways

  • Registered and certified pharmacy techs both assist pharmacists in providing medications and healthcare to patients.
  • Certification requires more upfront education, testing, and renewal costs but offers better mobility and earning potential.
  • Registration meets requirements for entry-level hospital and retail pharmacy positions. Certification enables advancement.
  • Weigh career goals, state requirements, employer preferences, mobility needs, and costs when deciding between the two options.
  • Both roles require on-the-job training under pharmacist supervision to gain practical experience.

Whichever path you pursue, focus on providing compassionate patient care and upholding pharmacy standards. With hard work and dedication, you can build an rewarding career that makes a difference in people’s lives.

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