How to Create a Certified Pharmacy Technician Curriculum (NHA CPhT)

Throughout the United States, career and technology centers are scrambling to create a certified pharmacy technician (CPhT) curriculum. 

This curriculum is so important because of the incredible growth in the pharmacy sector of health care, partly because of increased pharmaceutical profits, a large aging population, and pharmacies popping up in nearly every town in America.

All of these reasons (and more) lead to one simple conclusion: Today’s career and technical education (CTE) students want to work as pharmacy techs.

It’s steady work, it pays well, and they get to help people.

For just about every person in the world, that’s a formula for a fulfilling and successful career. 

So how can you get your students off on the right foot? What do you need to include in your pharmacy technician curriculum to get students certified as CPhT according to the National Healthcareer Association’s (NHA) standards?

We’ll cover four steps you need to get started!

1. Get Your State’s Standards


First thing’s first — no matter where you teach, you need to create a curriculum that adheres to your state’s standards.

Teaching to state standards is crucial because they form the foundation of everything your students need to know to have a successful career.

Some states go so far as to outline every single bit of information that every class needs to cover. Others may give fewer details and leave more opportunities for you to work with different resources.

Regardless of how your state approaches its standards, you have to follow them.

So how do you get them?

You can start by asking your administrator, CTE director, or immediate supervisor.

One of these individuals (or all of them) should have the information on state standards that you need.

In a pinch, they should be able to get the standards, if they don’t have standards readily available.

But depending on the schedule or availability of those individuals, you may not be able to get their attention. After all, they’re busy, right?

That’s why it’s good to have a backup plan!

The best backup plan is to check with other health science teachers in your area about state standards.

They may have taught your class before, or they may have had good luck contacting an administrator to get what they need.

There’s a problem with this, though. There’s a really good chance that you’re the only health science instructor at your school — and maybe in your entire district.

That’s where a third plan of action comes in handy!

If you can’t reach an administrator or colleague, you can use online teaching groups like the AES Educator Community!

These communities are dedicated to bringing teachers together so you can share ideas, compare classes, and get the resources you need.

(It’s also nice to know there are other people out there who have experienced the same obstacles and triumphs that you have.)

With these three plans of action, you should be in great shape for tracking down your state’s educational standards for pharmacy technicians.

But state standards are just the beginning!

What about your individual school

2. Address Your School’s Standards


School standards for health science classes can vary wildly from one another.

That’s because state standards look at the current situation in an entire state to make decisions, while schools can be laser-focused on their local communities.

That means your school could have stricter standards for pharmacy technician classes than the state.

For example, if your community has been hit especially hard by the current American opioid epidemic, your area may have stricter laws about drug dispersal and prescriptions that future pharmacy technicians must know!

And even if those guidelines aren’t written into laws, your school could be leading (or at least participating in) the charge against opioids in your area. That means they could have additional standards for pharmacy technician education that neighboring schools may not include.

With pharmaceuticals growing in public eye and private use, you need to be aware of every nuance to address in your pharmacy technician class!

And speaking of nuance, let’s not forget the end goal of your pharmacy technician class — getting students certified!

3. Include NHA-Pertinent Information


NHA certifications are the end-all-be-all of many health science classes.

The NHA is recognized, respected, and well-known for addressing the crucial parts of a wide variety of career opportunities.

The same is true for the NHA CPhT certification!

However, this is the part of curriculum creation where a lot of health science instructors feel conflicted.

This conflict usually comes from one big question — do I teach the subject or do I teach the certification test?

That’s a hard question to answer!

In an ideal world, teaching the subject does teach the certification test.

However, instructors teach subjects differently, and everyone has their own experience within their career. Plus, as we mentioned before, every state is different when it comes to pharmaceutical education requirements.

Many teachers choose to approach these obstacles in one of two ways.

Using NHA Information to Supplement the Current Curriculum

First, teachers may use NHA certification information as a supplement to the information they already teach.

So whenever an instructor discusses a day in the life of a pharmaceutical technician, they may cover how to fill a prescription properly.

Since the teacher is already talking about that anyway, they decide to add a little bit more information to proper packaging and labeling of prescriptions — two items that are required to know for the NHA CPhT certification!

This solution tends to work well for most health science teachers since it seamlessly integrates NHA-required information into the curriculum.

But there’s still another way!

“Back-Loading” NHA Information to the End of the Class

Second, some teachers choose to load all of the NHA CPhT information onto the end of their class, right before students have to take their exams.

So for a nine-week long class, some instructors choose to teach students about being a pharmacy technician for the first seven weeks.

Then, for weeks eight and nine, they go over NHA CPhT requirements.

This works out well for a couple of reasons.

The best reason is that this NHA overview gives students an excellent review period before they have to take their certification tests.

So the material that you taught in the first week? You can review it near the end of the marking period as you prep students for the NHA CPhT exam.

This approach keeps the NHA-required information fresh in your students’ minds when they finally go to take the CPhT exam.

With these two approaches to “teaching to the test,” you’re sure to find a way to prepare the next generation of pharmacy technicians in your class!

But there’s still one big question left.

You know what you have to teach.

But how are you going to teach it?

4. Get a Digital Curriculum


A digital curriculum is online teaching software that offers teachers a whole suite of classroom resources and student management opportunities so you can save time and help your students learn.

Teachers who use digital curriculum typically like it because:

  1. It’s always up to date with the latest information
  2. It’s easy to use (even if you’re not tech-savvy)
  3. It cuts hours off of planning and grading

You can also customize your courses, use pre-made PowerPoint presentations, print in-class materials, set different pacing options for IEPs, and see when your students do their work.

Best of all, digital curriculum is 100% accessible anytime and anywhere via an Internet-connected device.

So that’s a lot in one package, right? To a lot of teachers — especially old-school instructors — digital curriculum sounds too good to be true. It might also sound like an unnecessary hassle.

After all, if you have a teaching strategy that works, why change it?

That’s a good point — if you’re happy with what you’re doing, you may not want a digital curriculum at all.

But even if there’s a shred of truth to what digital curriculum can offer you as a health science teacher, you should at least read a little more about it, right?

Start Teaching Future Pharmacy Techs with Digital Curriculum Today!


HealthCenter21 is one of the most popular digital curriculum options for pharmacy technician instructors.

HealthCenter21 comes with all of the resources, materials, and features that we mentioned above.

It’s also designed to make your life easier while improving your students’ performance.

But you don’t have to take it from us!

You can read the stories of teachers who have already used HealthCenter21 — and love it!

Read their stories for yourself!

Read Their Stories >