Pharmacy Technician Salary
What can pharmacy technicians expect to earn?
Pharmacy technicians working across the U.S., including those employed in retail pharmacies in grocery stores and pharmacy chains, earned mean annual wages of $31,090, according to May 2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, a variety of factors can affect their pay, including geographic location, specific place of employment, time on the job and even certification. In fact, the lowest 10 percent of professionals earned $20,730 or less while the upper 10 percent earned $43,900 or more, shows BLS data. Across the country, the five highest-paying states for the field, along with their respective mean annual salaries, were the following, according to the BLS:
- Washington: $40,300
- Alaska: $39,980
- California: $39,710
- Hawaii: $36,400
- Oregon: $36,270
Are pharmacy techs in high demand?
Job opportunities for pharmacy techs are expected to grow faster than average compared to all other occupations, shows the BLS. This demand is projected to grow 20 percent between 2012 and 2022 and could result in 70,700 new jobs becoming available during this time. A number of factors are expected to contribute to this demand, according to the BLS. Among these is an increasing number of aging baby boomers who will be in greater need of services to treat chronic disease and, as a result, will need prescriptions filled at pharmacies. Also, more people having access to health care coverage, due to changes in federal law, will be able to take advantage of health care services that could result in more prescriptions being filled at pharmacies.
Continued research into treatment of diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and many others, could also lead to more prescriptions becoming available on the market and being filled at pharmacies. Finally, according to the BLS, pharmacists are being tasked with yet more responsibilities on the job, including giving flu shots, which can leave more tasks, such as taking patient information, double-checking prescriptions and preparing medications, to the supervision of the pharmacy tech.
Are there opportunities for advancement?
Some of the best job opportunities for pharmacy technicians could be available to those who have received formal training, are certified and already have experience on the job, shows the BLS. Certification also may be advantageous in at least two ways. First, it may be required in some states to even be able to seek employment. Second, some employers may look for it when hiring, regardless of existing state regulations. Currently, the two organizations that offer certification are the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association. When seeking either certification, students need to fulfill a number of qualifications, including passing an exam, to show that they are knowledgeable and qualified to work in the field.
Learn more about pharmacy technician certification.
How is pharmacy technician work rewarding?
Pharmacy technicians may derive a sense of purpose from helping provide medications to the sick and elderly who depend on them for a better quality of life. They can also feel like a vital part of a team of pharmacy staff members and have a sense of family among the co-workers they've worked side-by-side with over time.
Pharmacies often see regular customers who need routine prescriptions refills for pain maintenance or an ongoing chronic medical condition like diabetes. Elderly people are often regulars as they are among the biggest consumers of prescription pharmaceuticals. Having regular customers allows pharmacy techs to develop friendly professional relationships with their clients, which some pharmacy techs describe as the best part of the job. Retail pharmacy techs are unionized more often than not and can enjoy good medical and dental coverage through their employers. Those employed in hospitals can expect medical coverage directly through the institution as is standard.
What is the work environment like in a pharmacy?
The very nature of pharmacy work requires the setting to be exceptionally clean, organized and well lit. However, pharmacy techs in retail pharmacies can be in an environment that is extremely busy and demanding at times. Retail pharmacies often have peak hours when many customers drop off, refill or pick up prescriptions. Although these peak hours can vary, they often are in the morning after opening and again in the afternoon between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. During slower times, pharmacy techs may be kept busy with a variety of other tasks, including catching up on work, putting away medications or following up on phone calls.
In-facility pharmacy techs in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities may find a much more regular and routine working environment. On occasion, they may have some exposure to patients when delivering daily medications to other staff or locations within a building. The hours that in-facility techs work can coincide with the hours of around-the-clock facilities, meaning these techs may have to work evening or night shifts.
- Pharmacy Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm
- Pharmacy Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292052.htm