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What Are the Differences Between My National Certification and My State License?

So you’ve taken a course, passed your national exam, and you are ready to get out there and find a job. But you’re a bit confused because words like certification, license, continuing education, and renewal have been thrown around and as a new Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT), you aren’t quite sure what all of this means or what requirements apply to your national certification and which ones apply to your state license. You are also worried because you plan to move to a different state this summer but you don’t want to retake the national exam again. Let’s dig deeper into some of the many questions and concerns new Certified Pharmacy Technicians often have regarding certifications and licensing.

What You Should Know Regarding Your National Certification:

This is what all of your studying and your entire class was based on….passing this exam! Becoming certified has many advantages. For starters, some states require that you obtain a national certification prior to working as a pharmacy technician. In states that do not yet require this, almost all employers will require that you become nationally certified within one year of your hire date. Nationally certified pharmacy technicians generally make $2-3 more per hour, are more likely to be hired in a hospital pharmacy, and are promoted more quickly. Once you have taken the exam and passed it, you do not need to retake the exam. However, your national certification will expire after two years if you do not renew it. You can find the date for your certification expiration on your certificate or by going to the NHA Certification Portal:

In order to renew your national certification, you must complete continuing education (CE) requirements. You can find a detailed list of these requirements and how to complete them step-by-step on the Continuing Education tab of the KLR Pharmacy Technician School website. Keep in mind that these requirements are the same regardless of which state you live in!

Your national certification is just that…national. This means that if you decide to move to a different state, you do not need to do anything additional to remain certified. Your certification is valid in all 50 states.

What You Should Know Regarding Your State License:

Without a valid license from the State Board of Pharmacy, you legally cannot work in any pharmacy. In order to obtain a pharmacy technician license, you must be 18 years of age and you must have a valid high school diploma or equivalent. Part of obtaining the state license is undergoing a background check. At KLR Pharmacy Technician Training School, after a student passes the course and their national exam, the process to receive their license and complete the background check is walked through one-on-one with them and is paid for in full.

It is very important that you let your instructor know if you have any sort of criminal background charges ahead of time. Having a criminal background does not automatically prevent you from obtaining a pharmacy technician license in most states, but if you do have a background; most states will require that you submit paperwork on your charges as well as write a paragraph regarding what your charges were and what the consequences were, including exact dates. This is called a positive response document.

Additionally, some states have other requirements for obtaining a pharmacy technician license. For example, in the state of Michigan, applicants must participate in an education program for sex trafficking, which is at no cost to them and can be done online or in person. In the state of Tennessee, applicants must turn all forms in via postal mail as opposed to Indiana, where applicants are required to use an online system to apply for licensure. Fees for a pharmacy technician license also vary state by state. You can find those fees by going to your state's Board of Pharmacy website.

Your state license does not require any sort of exam. Once you go through the steps related to your specific state, you will receive your pharmacy technician license via email or postal mail (depending on your state), usually within 2-6 weeks time.

Once you have your pharmacy technician license, you should keep in mind that it does expire. This also differs by state. For example, in Indiana, ALL pharmacy technician licenses expire on June 30th of even numbered years; regardless of when you obtained the license or how long you have had it. In order to renew your license you should go to your state's board of pharmacy website and follow the instructions to renew. You must do this before the deadline! If you live in the state of Indiana, you can view the step-by-step process for renewing your license on the Renewing a Pharmacy Technician License Guide - Indiana Blog.

If you were born in a country outside of the United States, you will need USCSI documentation in order to prove your legal residency in the order to obtain your pharmacy technician license.

If you have obtained your pharmacy technician license and then decide to relocate to a different state, you must obtain a new pharmacy license in that state. You can do this by visiting the state’s Board of Pharmacy website and meeting the requirements for your new location.

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The difference between a State and National license is that a state licensure is only valid in that specific state. A national license is valid throughout the country.


To get certified you have to take an exam but for a license you don’t you just need to do what is required for your state


You’re state license is only valid in a specific state but you’re national license is valid in all 50 states.


The biggest difference between the certification and the license is that you will need a background check


Your state license is only valid in that state, while your national license is valid across the entire country. This is the distinction between a state and national license.

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