NHA's CPhT Certification Program

The vast majority of pharmacy employers seek candidates with the proper certification.  In fact, many pharmacy employers require certification in order to even consider the candidate for employment.  The CPhT certification is essential to getting your foot in the door for an initial interview.  This certification is earned through the NHA with the passing of the ExCPT exam.  Pass the ExCPT exam, obtain the CPhT certification and you will be that much closer to obtaining rewarding and high-paying work with a pharmacy employer in the role of pharmacy technician.  

Pharmacy technicians handle doctors’ prescription requests, create and maintain patient records, manage inventory, measure out medication and package/label those medications.  These coveted professionals work in pharmacies, drug stores, grocery stores, hospitals and medical offices.  However, you are likely pondering, “How long does it take to become a pharmacy technician?” and what is involved in obtaining the certification necessary for such a professional role.  Pursue this career and you will need the CPhT certification provided by the NHA to set the stage for success.  Let’s take a closer look at how to become a certified pharmacy technician.

Eligibility Requirements

You can sit for the ExCPT exam to obtain NHA CPhT certification if you have earned a high school diploma or GED or will do so in the upcoming year.  Furthermore, if you have completed a program including phlebotomy training in the past half-decade, you will be eligible to sit for the exam.  Those who are more than 30 days away from completing the requirements necessary to obtain a GED or high school diploma cannot sit for the ExCPT exam.  However, those with relevant work experience, those who have completed a specific training program or have related military training will also prove eligible to take the exam.  

In terms of training programs, those who have completed a pharmacy technician training program provided by an institution recognized by the state or have completed a training program that is employer-based will be eligible.  However, this training program must be recognized through the Board of Pharmacy in the candidate’s state.  The program must also be verified by the employer for academic preparation, ensuring the candidate can perform entry level pharmacy technician duties in an adequate manner.  

In terms of military training sufficing for eligibility requirements, the candidate will prove eligible if the training involved the providing of formal medical services related to pharmacology offered through a US military branch.  Those who completed their military training or other training program five years before the point of application submission are required to have supplemental work experience.  This work experience must include 1,200 hours of pharmacy-related work that has been supervised in one of the prior three years.

Exam Fee

Obtain CPhT certification through the NHA and you will have the credentials required to establish a launching pad for your career as a pharmacy technician.  This certification is the first step to becoming a pharmacy technician.  Pay the $117 to take the ExCPT exam necessary for CPhT certification through the NHA and you will be that much closer to sitting for the exam.

How to Apply and Schedule

Create your NHA candidate profile and you will be ready to apply and register for the exam.   If your profile is tied to an institution, the instructions for applying for the exam can be found in the NHA Help Center’s Frequently Asked Questions.  If you chose “Registering Individually” when you created your profile or if the institution does not provide the exam, the exam will be taken at a PSI test site.  If this is the case, you must complete the application process through the NHA then schedule an exam date through PSI.  You can find out more information pertaining to PSI test locations by way of the NHA’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

An Attestation must be read and agreed to prior to taking the exam.  Payment is necessary when applying for the examination unless the exam-taker is sponsored by his or her employer or an institution.  Two hours are available for the candidate to complete the payment process following the application for the certification exam.  If the opportunity for payment is no longer available after applying for the exam, the application is voided.  Such a candidate will be required to reapply for the exam and provide payment to confirm the application in order to take the exam.  A confirmation email is provided after the application and registration are complete.

About the Exam

The ExCPT exam is provided at the PSI Testing Center closest to your location.  Valid identification must be provided in order to take the exam.  Exam-takers should understand the test will be completed in a single session.  The exam consists of 100 questions including 20 pre-test questions.  

All in all, two hours and 10 minutes are provided to take the exam.  NHA posts the results of the exam to the exam-taker’s account within a couple business days of scoring the test.  Those who take the pencil/paper exam are provided with results two business days after the institution returns the booklets and the NHA receives them.

Exam Content Outline

The ExCPT exam format is taken without the exam-takers’ personal calculators and other electronic devices such as smartphones.  However, if such a device is necessary, the exam proctors will provide it.  In general, the exam pertains to the general duties, scope of practice and role of the pharmacy technician.  The exam touches on controlled substances, laws and regulations pertaining to the pharmaceutical industry.  The exam covers drugs and drug therapy including drug classification and frequently prescribed medications. 

The exam includes questions pertaining to the dispensing process.  IN particular, the exam centers on the medication order intake/entry.  The preparation and dispensing of medications is covered in addition to calculations, sterile/nonsterile products, repackaging, unit doses, compounding and more.


The NHA CPhT certification requires renewal every couple years in order to remain current.  There is a $55 fee to be paid every two years to renew NHA certification.  Certified pharmacy technicians are required to engage in a minimum of 20 hours worth of continuing education in the two years leading up to recertification.  At least one of these 20 hours must include pharmacy law.  Another one of the hours must be centered on patient safety.


Though the ExCPT exam costs money, it is worth every penny as it provides you with the credentials to kick-start a rewarding career as a pharmacy technician.  It costs $117 to sign up for the exam.

About NHA

NHA makes it easier for those interested in working in the healthcare industry to connect with potential employers.  This organization certifies workers in the health industry, ensuring they have the knowledge and credentials necessary to provide top-notch healthcare.  The NHA’s overarching goal is to enhance healthcare.  This is accomplished through certification, education and advocacy.  

The NHA has set the stage for awarding nearly one million certifications to prospective healthcare workers across the past three decades.  This group has the competency measurements and study tools necessary to provide fully personalized customer service, ultimately paving the way for healthcare workers to help those in need.  

NHA employees work hard to help frontline workers in the healthcare industry enhance patient care, improving their condition and quality of life.  The NHA’s extensive certification process and preparation resources provide individuals with much-needed access to the resources and tools necessary for professional success.  NHA also provided continuity for employers and educators looking for a professional organization that provides myriad certification options.  In summary, NHA helps groups ranging from employers to students and academic institutions provide truly effective healthcare solutions.

Other offerings from NHA

The NHA provides additional resources and tools to improve healthcare quality across the land.  As an example, the NHA provides a training program directory and certification resources.  Take a look at the Training Program Directory and you will find a litany of links.  These resources provide information pertaining to membership with the National Pharmacy Technician Association, upcoming events, healthcare-related resources, healthcare careers, advocacy and so much more.  All prospective pharmacy technicians will benefit from checking out these invaluable online resources.

The Certifications Resources include information about becoming a CPhT, information pertaining to advanced certifications, conferences, webinars, careers and more.  Be sure to check out the "Become a CPhT" section for information pertaining to training to what is necessary to become a pharmacy technician.  Those looking to add to their repertoire of skills and qualification will find the Advanced Certs section quite helpful.  Prepare accordingly, perform  your due diligence and you will be that much closer to determining if working as a pharmacy technician is the right career for you.