Become a Pharmacy Technician
4.6 (1,612 ratings)
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Become a Pharmacy Technician

A Video Study Guide for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam
4.6 (1,612 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
6,615 students enrolled
Last updated 2/2018
English [Auto]
Current price: $69.99 Original price: $99.99 Discount: 30% off
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This course includes
  • 5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 article
  • 33 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • By the end of this course, you will be able to utilize the skills you have learned to achieve a job as a pharmacy technician.
  • Read sig codes
  • Perform simple pharmacy math
  • Understand commonly used pharmacy law
  • Brand and generic equivalents
  • A willingness to work hard to memorize the concepts covered
  • Calculator
  • Knowledge of Simple Math Concepts

Becoming a pharmacy technician is a simpler path than most students think. While many students are convinced that becoming certified involves months of schooling -currently this is NOT the case.

To become a certified pharmacy technician an individual must:

1. Register with the PTCB or ExCPT to take a certification exam. Most states require the PTCB, but the ExCPT is accepted in many states.

2. Study the required material to pass the PTCB or ExCPT examination. (Note: Studying for the exam can be a part of a lengthy/costly college course, but is not required - a simple online video course will be sufficient )

3. Pass your exam!

4. Register with your respective State Board of Pharmacy. We provide the web URL for all 50 State Boards of Pharmacy to make registering easy!

This course is designed to help students learn the concepts needed to become a certified pharmacy technician (C. Ph.T). Many different topics are covered in the course, including pharmacy law, common abbreviations, commonly used calculations, and many other skills used by pharmacy technicians in their day to day tasks. Utilizing the advantages of a self-paced course, student will be able to prepare to take the certification exam needed to work as a pharmacy technician.

Included in this course are how-to videos, drugs lists, commonly seen abbreviations, pharmaceutical calculations, sample test questions, and other resources useful in a successful pharmacy career.

This course will require additional time and repetition to reinforce skills learned within the included materials. Students are encouraged to take a slow and steady pace in this course - it is designed as a 6-week course but may be longer or shorter depending on the rate of learning by the student.

Who this course is for:
  • Individuals interested in becoming a Certified Pharmacy Technician
Course content
Expand all 42 lectures 04:55:03
+ Introduction
5 lectures 26:38
In this short introduction, I cover what will be taught in the course, what skills are asked of a pharmacy technician, and why this is a good career choice.  The attached document can help students find out about certification procedures that are required in their home state.  

Class Structure:

·  Introduction

o  A few lectures to get us comfortable with a pharmacy

·  Pharmacy Shorthand (Sig Codes)

o  Study this BID PRN

·  Medications

o  Top 200 Medications

·  Pharmacy Math

o  Spend lots of your time here

o  Cert exam is heavy on math

·  Pharmacy Law

o  Numerous Law questions are on the exam

Preview 07:23
This lecture covers the process of filling a prescription at a retail pharmacy.  While the contents of this lecture is not often seen on the certification exam - the lecture is important for students who have not worked in a pharmacy before.    Nothing makes a rookie in a pharmacy stick out more than the lost look on their face during that first week.  Knowing how a pharmacy works before you start will help you to jump right in.  

The best way to learn the concepts taught in this lecture is to work in a pharmacy as a clerk.  A clerk position usually runs the cash register as well as other various duties in the pharmacy.  This job usually requires little to no experience previously.  Not only can it help you learn your medications quicker - many students have success with becoming a technician at the same company they began work as a technician.  

Pharmacy Workflow Part 1
This lecture covers the process of filling a prescription at a retail pharmacy.  While the contents of this lecture is not often seen on the certification exam - the lecture is important for students who have not worked in a pharmacy before.    Nothing makes a rookie in a pharmacy stick out more than the lost look on their face during that first week.  Knowing how a pharmacy works before you start will help you to jump right in.  

The best way to learn the concepts taught in this lecture is to work in a pharmacy as a clerk.  A clerk position usually runs the cash register as well as other various duties in the pharmacy.  This job usually requires little to no experience previously.  Not only can it help you learn your medications quicker - many students have success with becoming a technician at the same company they began work as a technician.  

Pharmacy Workflow Part 2
This is a short lecture demonstrating how to count and pour in a pharmacy.  It is something that I would have at one time thought that was too simple a concept to even make a video on.  

After seeing too many first time technicians count their capsules by one or even count them with their bare hands, I have determined that a simple lecture like this is needed.  

Notice that I pour my liquid without checking at eye level - not a great practice.  

Certainly it can seem overwhelming to prepare and SIGN UP for the certification exam.  You will want to make certain that you are signing up for the correct exam.  Some states require the PTCB exam, while other states require the ExCPT.  

Having an exam date can be very nerve racking and motivating.  There are plenty of resources about each each am each organizations website: 

See what is required in your state.  There is a helpful link in the opening lecture if you missed it. 

Exam Information
1 page
+ Pharmacy Abbreviations
3 lectures 28:16
Pharmacy abbreviations are used in almost every facet of the medical field.  Knowing the abbreviations (known as Sig Codes) for a prescription is a required task for a pharmacy technician.  
Download and/or print the supplementary lists of abbreviations.  They have additional abbreviations that are not in the videos lectures.  I touch on the most commonly seen abbreviations in the videos.  

You will need to study this section until it becomes second nature to you.  3"x5" flash cards are very helpful to make.  You may want to use your iphone or ipad instead of flash cards:  

Use Less Paper 

Rinse and Repeat until you learn it!

Pharmacy Abbreviations Part 1
Sig Code Quiz
10 questions
Use this lecture as a video flash card!  

As the sig codes come up on the screen I want you to write or say the proper translation of each sig code.  Find out what you missed and go back and memorize those sig codes.  If you missed of the abbreviations from this lecture, there is a good chance you have forgotten others as well.  

Go back to your flash cards if needed.  They are your secret weapon in the war on pharmacy knowledge.  

Pharmacy Abbreviations Part 2
I've got some real world stuff here for you.  These are actual prescriptions from the pharmacy.  No patient information is on these prescriptions (wouldn't want to violate HIPPA - more on that later in the class).  

Notice how the Dr's handwriting is pretty tough to read on some of these prescriptions.  Again, this is real world - that is a challenge in the pharmacy.  Not being able to read a prescription puts the whole pharmacy to a halt.  Usually the best move is to call the Dr. and ask what was intended to be written.  Some Dr's will take offense to you asking - don't worry about it.  Better for you to ask then to cause an error because of sloppy handwriting.  

It is an even tougher situation when you can't even read the Dr's name - then you don't even know who to call!!

Look for more of these real world prescriptions in the coming quizzes. 

Pharmacy Abbreviation Wrap-Up
Sig Code Quiz #2
10 questions
+ Medications
8 lectures 36:28
You knew it was coming --- drugs!!  In this section I will go over the medications you will most commonly see in a pharmacy.  While the math in the later lectures deals with memorization and learning math concepts, this section is straight memorization. 

Learn these by verbal repetition, writing them down, or even make a song.  Just learn them!

My preferred method of learning these has always been 3 x 5 index cards.  Just whatever works for you.  I mentioned this in the pharmacy abbreviations section, but if you prefer to save the paper - try an app for your iphone or ipad.  

Flash Cards for Iphone or Ipad 

I cover the most important medications in the video lectures.  Base your flash cards on the attached supplementary materials.  I have broken them down in to several pages broken down by segments of the alphabet.  

Check out the external link for a list of the Top 200 drugs of 2010.  If you are pressed for time, perhaps focus your learning on the upper portion of the Top 200 list.  Don't look for a shortcut though, if you can learn all 200 medications - do it!

Good Luck!

Top 200 Drugs Introduction
In this series of lectures - I will break several medications by parts of the drug name.  It can make your learning of the medications so much easier!  

A very common question of the exam may be something like this:

Which of the following is known as a beta blocker? 

a) lisinopril

b) metformin

c) metoprolol

Once you see beta blocker - you know to look for the -olol ending.  Again - flash cards  are the answer to memorizing these suffixes.  

Some common side effects:

ACE Inhibitors - dry cough

Beta-Blockers - slower heart rate (bradycardia) and shortness of breath

All hypertension (high blood pressure) medications can cause dizziness upon standing.  

For a fun way to learn these and other medications - try my friends at

Drug Nomenclature Part 1
You are moving right along.  Many more medications in this lecture.  Some of the medications have helpful suffixes in their names to aid in memorization while others do not. 

  Make a few note cards  and knock this lecture out!  
Print out the handout if that helps you follow along the video lecture.  One more Drug Nomenclature lecture is upcoming.  You will certainly need to invest additional time to remember all of these medications.  
Please don't fly through the videos without study time in between.  Use all your available resources and invest some time into memorizing these medications.  
Drug Nomenclature Part 2
This lecture primarily covers the prefixes and suffixes used in antibiotic medications.  Simply knowing that these drugs are antibiotic medications will be a big first step.  But the truly knowledgeable technician will be able to identify and antibiotic and tell what antibiotic classification it is in.  

Add to your ever growing pile of flash cards and immerse yourself in these medications.  Look into your medicine cabinet for any unfinished antibiotics and see if you can name their drug classification. 

Authors note:  You should have finished your antibiotics -- not stopped taking them when you felt better.  You didn't know I was going to get on to you did you? :)  

Drug Nomenclature Part 3

Top 200 Quiz #1
10 questions
The shortest lecture in the entire course!  Whoohoo!

Memorize the 3 classes of drug recalls.  

Know the meaning of each class of drug recall and the severity of each recall classification.  

Class 1

Class 2

Class 3

Drug Recalls
Top 200 Quiz #2
10 questions
I had put together a video lecture of this.  Then I determined that nothing in this world was more boring than me reading pregnancy categories to you.  Study this little document.  Know that category X is the worst and that category A is the safest.  I would say there is only a slight chance you deal with this on your exam.  
Pregnancy Categories
1 page
Top 200 Quiz #3
9 questions
You will almost certainly see a question on the components of the NDC number.  Learn the 3 sections of the NDC number:

A)  5 digits - Manufacturer

B)  4 digits - Product

C)  2 digits - Package Size

As we get into inventory control this will become important.  Whatever NDC number is ran through the computer (in Data Entry) - needs to be the NDC number that is dispensed.  You can pick the correct drug but the wrong NDC number when dispensing/counting the medication.  Just make sure you are picking the same product that was entered into the computer.  This will keep your pharmacy's inventory correct.  

National Drug Code Numbers
In this lecture I become your biggest fan.  This is simply a quick review over everything in the Medications section.  I hit on the topics that we just covered and make sure you are on track.  

Don't put the pressure on yourself to move to the next section if you haven't mastered this portion yet.  There is no shame in moving at a slow and steady pace.  In other words - watch this section again to really get this down.  Rushing through the course hurts only you and your examination score.  

Preview 04:19
+ Pharmacy Math
13 lectures 01:46:57
This lecture is simply a review of common principles of algebra.  

Convert from a % to a decimal:   Move the decimal over 2 places to the LEFT (20% = 0.2)

Zeros are LEADERS not followers.  Look at my 0.2 above. .2 would have been confusing.  So would .20

Know how to round.  You may have to round occasionally in a pharmacy.  Usually you will round to the nearest whole number, but be able to round to other digits when needed

You may run into a medication that is expressed in a ratio.  The certification exam questions on this may be to just show an understanding of what the ratio is stating. A chemical that is 1:1000 is diluted by 1000 fold.

Solve for X -- This is the big one

One variable equations are all over the certification exam.  Know the principles of basic algebra to be able to solve for x.  Look at the example in the video lecture.  This skill needs to be mastered prior to proceeding.  

General Math Review
Its important to know the equipment that you may someday work with.  This lecture discusses both the equipment you may work with and the care of some of that equipment.  

The certification exam may ask about laminar flow hoods - pay special attention to that portion of the lecture.  Keeping your product sterile is incredibly important.  Should you go into institutional pharmacy - you will be asked to prepare an IV bag that is tested for sterility.  Those that can't follow the correct procedures do not get into the IV room.  

Lab Essentials
This lecture gives the basis for just about all pharmacy math.  You MUST know these measurements.  Not only should you know that 1 teaspoon is 5 mL, but you should be able to tell how many teaspoons are in 50 or 100 mL.  (its 10 or 20).  

Become an expert on converting between one unit to another.  Your technician exam will certainly give you the question in one measurement (such as grams) and ask for the answer in another measurement (such as milligrams).  Don't be fooled by this!

Volumes and Measures

A quiz covering some of the common calculations you may encounter with volumes/measurements.  

Volumes and Measures Quiz
10 questions
In this lecture we discuss converting medications that are expressed in % to medications that are expressed in mg/mL.  As I have stated previously, there will be questions on your exam that ask for your answer in mg but the measurements in your question will only have grams.  
A solid medication given as  X percentage is equal to  X grams/100 mL.  

Pay attention to the factor label method. If you know of an equality (i.e. 1 g = 1000 mg) than this method can be useful.  

10 questions
How would we ever know what Super Bowl it is without Roman Numerals?  You may run into Roman Numerals in the quantity portion of many prescriptions.  Most of the time it will be a multiple of 5.  

These are easy to learn and should be an easy question for you on the exam.  Don't blow off this lecture just because it seems easy though.  

Roman Numerals
Roman Numeral Quiz
10 questions
(Rate)(Time) = Volume

I should get that large tattoo that says that equation.  I would be so cool!

Seriously, IV flow rate questions can seem intimidating if  you don't know how to properly calculate them.  We pretty much do the same problem in this lecture three times over.   We just figure out a different portion of the equation each time.  

Make a problem on your own:

Make up 2 of the 3 variables.  Solve for the third variable.  

IV Calculations
This lecture is for the kids.  

Young's rule and Clark's rule are both simple estimations of what a pediatric dosage should be.  Be able to use them if called upon to on the exam.

Be very familiar with mg/kg.  You will almost certainly have a question on your exam giving you the child's weight in Lbs.  Convert to kg by dividing by 2.2.  

Look for the word trickery of mg per DOSE or mg per DAY.  They may ask for mg/day and put the answer for mg/dose in the multiple choice answers.  

Pediatric Dosages
The attached document has several terms you will need to be familiar with as you prepare for your technician exam.  Many of these terms could be used in a word problem that needs calculations performed.  Usually these type of questions concern third party insurance payment, tax, or discounts taken at the register. 

Like many of the other questions - they are simply trying to make certain you can think on your feet.  

Pharmacy Business
1 page
This is a good opportunity to learn one equation and walk away from the lecture one exam question smarter.  

5F = 9C + 160

Fill in the temperature you are given and plug into the above equation.  For reference points you will learn that 0 degrees C is freezing and 100 degrees C is boiling.  (32 and 212 for Farenheit)

Temperature Conversions
Temperature Conversion Quiz
5 questions
This is one of the most useful math lectures you will come across.  Ratio and Proportion math problems occur in most pharmacies daily.  

It is the longest lecture for a reason.  

The biggest hurdle most students face on this lecture is getting the same unit on the top and the bottom of EACH side of the equation.  Grams on the top of one side and mg on the top of the other side just simply won't work.  Convert your numbers to make them match the other side.

For example:  If you have 5 grams/mL = 400mg/XmL your first move should be to convert the grams to milligrams.  (you could also change the mg to grams).  Just make certain the top number (numerator) has the same unit on both sides.  

Know this lecture well.  

Ratio and Proportion
We are now getting deep into the depths of pharmacy math.  There is a decent chance that you won't see this type of problem often in your pharmacy career.  There is also a very decent chance that you WILL see this type of math problem on your technician exam.  

Remember to put your known values (What you have and what you want) in their correct boxes in the TIC TAC TOE box.  As you go across the grid diagonally you will find the difference between what you have and what you want.  This difference will get your how many "parts" of your final solution you will need.  

Add the parts together to get the total parts of the wanted solution.  

Then you can find out how many mL of each solution are needed by multiplying  (parts/total parts) x Final volume.

This is easiest to learn when seeing it done.  Look at the blackboard examples.  

Also remember that 0% can be one of your solutions on hand. 

Alligation Quiz
3 questions
Having accurate inventory is so important to a pharmacy.  I have seen so many times where a patient was told to come on to our pharmacy to get a medication.  They drive an hour to my pharmacy for the hard to find drug only to get there and realize that we really DON'T have the medication.  The computer was just incorrectly saying we DID have it.  

In that scenario the computer was wrong but it was most likely wrong because of a user error.  We have to watch our inventory in a pharmacy.  

  1. We have to receive our orders from our medication distributors properly.  
  2. We have to send back expired or recalled medications properly
  3. We have to dispense the exact medication (NDC number!) that was ran though the computer system
We must stay on top of the inventory.  

Inventory Maintenance
1 page
Simple paper math quiz here.  Slow and steady wins the race -- no need to rush through this one.  
Math Test
+ Pharmacy Law
3 lectures 29:59
There is a handful of questions that will come from pharmacy law.  

Be able to determine if a DEA number is valid or invalid.  The first initial of the last name can help eliminate some answers.  

Be familiar with the schedule of medications:

  • Schedule 1 - No medical use
  • Schedule 2 - High Abuse potential. No refills.  Order new medications through DEA Form 222
  • Schedule 3-5  - Up to 5 refills allowed.  Prescription expires 6 months after date written. 
Inventory of Controlled substances must be made every two years (biennial)

Pharmacy Law
Simply put - learn the Laws and Acts covered in this lecture.  

Don't bypass the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) or (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) OBRA.  The technician exam seems to love asking a question or two about the acts/laws. Be prepared.

HIPPA - Protection of PPI (Protected Patient Information)

OBRA - Mandated counseling of medicaid patients by a licensed pharmacist

The PPPA requires many medications to have child protective lids on them.  There are some exceptions.  Those include:

Nitroglycerin tablets

Oral Contraceptives

Methylprednisolone (Medrol) tablet

Also, check out this great rap song by  (Now throw your hands in the air....)

Common Pharmacy Acts and Laws
New Drug Application
Pharmacy Law Quiz
10 questions
+ Conclusion
2 lectures 10:33
This lecture covers the absolute basics of your pharmacy interview.  You didn't take this class to simply get your certification, you took the class to lock up a job.  The best move you can make is to get working in a pharmacy right now.  You can do that before you have your certification as a pharmacy clerk.  Some states will allow you to be classified as a "tech in training" which will give you more of a legal foothold to start practicing what you have learned.  

I only cover a few important interview tips here:

  • Show up early
  • Dress better than the job asks you to
  • Speak confidently – even if you are nervous
  • Look up!
  • Diminish your weaknesses 
  • Make your strengths apparent
You have the knowledge - just convince your potential employer that you are a good fit.  

Landing A Job
You did it!  

You made it past the first round of your pharmacy journey.  You probably have a date to sit for the exam by now.  Don't stress - once you know the material it is just a matter of executing on test day.  
There are NUMEROUS categories that are constantly introduced in the technician exam.  Some are merely test questions (that don't count towards your final grade).  Other questions just seem to come out of left field.  If you run into one - don't panic, just pick your best answer.  
I have truly truly enjoyed putting together this course.  Please leave a favorable review of this class if it has helped you.  
35 questions here.  

Time yourself to get this done in about 40 minutes - this is roughly the pace you will need to be able to handle.  

Don't take this quiz until you are prepared and have the time to take it!!!

Final Exam
35 questions
+ PTCB Updated Exam
8 lectures 52:11
Reimbursement Plans

Brands versus Generics - whats the real difference. Here we will discuss what reference you can find Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations - commonly referred to as The ORANGE Book

Know the difference between A-rated and AB Rated drugs

Know what a B-rated drug is in comparison to an A-rated drug

Therapeutic Equivalence

In this lecture we are talking about the transfer of CONTROLLED substances. Recall a previous lecture discussing the control drug schedule CII - CV.

The FDA wants to keep close tabs on where controlled drugs are being moved to and from.

Know the different kind of documentation you might need for C2 medications vs C3-C5 Medications

If you didn't record your transfer (on paper or an electronic record) than you will have no way to explain what happened to your "missing" controlled substances.

Transfer of Controlled Substances
Drug Interactions

As you know, some drugs have some serious side effects. Most side effects are tolerable. Sometimes the benefits do outweigh the bad side effects. In these conditions - extra monitoring by the patient and the medical team may be needed. Numerous drugs have this requirement.

Medications requiring this extra attention include:

Isotretinoin (Accutane)

Clozapine (Clozaril)

Dofetilide (Tikosyn)

For a more exhaustive list - check out this FDA link:

Restricted Drug Programs
Common Safety Strategies
Hazardous Materials
Beyond Use Dating