Pharmacy Technicians Salary Guide [2018]

Top Paying Industries for Pharmacy Technicians

Industries with the Highest Wages

The largest number of Pharmacy Technicians were employed in 2008 by hospitals. Hospitals employed 54,350 technicians, while the Federal government employed 5,130. But the middle three employers – department stores, merchandise stores, grocery stores – employed 55,300 Pharmacy Technicians.

The difference between the mean annual wages paid to federal employees compared to the mean annual wages paid to department store employees is $11,510 or 44% proving once again that working for the government usually nets higher pay. The range of hourly wages in the top 5 highest employing industries is $12.49 to $18.02.

Department stores ($12.49) and merchandise stores ($12.82) pay similar hourly wages, both of which are below the $13.70 mean hourly wage for all Pharmacy Technicians.  When it comes to the pharmacy technician pay scale, grocery stores ($17.70, hospitals ($15.47) and the federal government ($18.02) pay higher hourly rates. Future employment opportunities are expected to be very good.

Pharmacy Technicians have more skills and usually more education and certifications than Pharmacy Aides. The technician normally works for a Pharmacist in a variety of settings that include doctor and dental offices, grocery store and free standing pharmacies, hospitals and nursing homes, laboratories, and mass retailers like mail-order drug businesses.

Pharmacy Technicians accept and fill prescription orders, mix medications and label prescription bottles under the direct supervision of a Pharmacist. There is a growing trend within the profession for Pharmacy Technicians to work more closely with patients also. Starting pay, along with the level of pharmacy tech salaries achieved over time, is largely dependent on years of experience and types of certifications the Pharmacy Technician holds.

Pharmacy Technician Salaries for Industries with the Highest Employment Levels

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average Pharmacy Tech salary is $28,500 paid annually. Looking at the chart, clearly it’s possible to make much more depending on the industry chosen. For example, the annual mean wage for Pharmacy Technicians working in dental offices is $43,930. This is 54 percent higher than the annual mean wage for all those employed in this particular health care occupation.

Many of the highest paid Pharmacy Technicians across all the industries work in areas of research and diagnostic laboratories. Pharmacy Technician pay at the low end of the range goes to those who work in retail stores. Hourly Pharmacy Tech pay rates are widely dispersed and range between $9.27 per hour for the lowest-paid 10% to $18.98 per hour for the highest-paid 10%.

The job opportunities for Pharmacy Technicians are projected to be excellent with an additional 99,800 employed between the years 2008-2018. This is a 31% increase in total number employed. This number is much likely to be even higher with the passage of the health care legislation that will add millions to the insurance rolls. In addition, an aging population will also lead to an increased need for Pharmacy Technicians because senior citizens use more drugs than other age groups.

Many of the Pharmacy Technicians who are commanding higher salaries have some education beyond high school or an associate’s degree. The pay range for Pharmacy Technicians is also determined by the type of certifications held such as those conferred by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.

Pharmacy Technician Training & Certification

The career of a pharmacy technician is advantageous, but in order to draw a handsome salary, you have to have the pharmacy technician certification before entering the job field. Being one of the increasing and demanding jobs the medical field today, many people are recruited as pharmacy technicians now days. Therefore, if you are planning to build your career by working in a pharmacy as pharmacy technician, then you can either complete your education or join as a pharmacy technician or you can learn about the job by working with the pharmacists that will help you gain ample knowledge required to sell medicines. By receiving a   pharmacy technician certification you can work as a certified pharmacist technician that will give you the benefits of working in higher places.

By joining the pharmacy technician schools, you can complete the one years’ pharmacy technician program that will help you gain knowledge about pharmacy and the management of medicines. After completing the course you will be able to deal with the customers, understand about the type of medicines they need and also suggest about the medicine that would be effective to recover them. There are some of the mandatory pharmacy courses that you will have to complete in order to achieve the pharmacy technician certification for the job. They include pharmacology, pharmacy record keeping, chemistry, drug preparation, pharmacy law, drug reactions, interpreting prescription, drug dosages and so on.

In addition, you will also have to do an internship under a certified pharmacist or manager in a real pharmacy or hospital, so that you can gain good knowledge and experiences for the job with the certification. Finally, when you are ready to give the pharmacy examination under the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and pass in it successfully, you will be given the pharmacy technician certification that will let you work as a certified pharmacy technician and this certification is important since it will help you to earn a good salary than regular inexperienced pharmacy technicians. Remember that, only a single pharmacy technician certification can assist you to achieve a higher position such as a pharmacist or a supervisor at a pharmacy that requires not only work experiences but also certification.

The pharmacy technician certification will let you join the profession that requires providing appropriate medicine to the patients, fulfilling prescription orders, measuring and counting the dosage of drugs, making prescription labels, combining medicines for creating a mixture and many more. It is the responsibility of the certified pharmacy technician to check the prescription carefully before providing the medical supplies to the patients. If you are a certified pharmacy technician, then you might also be given the responsibility to perform cash transaction, record the counts in registers, record patient history, having the ability to recommend medicines in case one does not work, keep updated with the new medicines and technological advances in the medical history.

For this reason, many pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies requires the pharmacy technicians with a pharmacy technician certification. A certified pharmacy technician may also find jobs in hospital, non – profit organization, schools, sports teams, government etc. that offer attractive salaries based or work experiences and hourly services. There is only one disadvantage and that is, you have to work almost twenty four hours every day if needed without any holidays on occasions, events etc. There is option that you can choose to work as a part time employee, but it is better to work full time when you receive a pharmacy technician certification. You may not only receive a higher salary but also benefits such as financial assistance, vacation, holiday pays, discounts, retirement benefits and so on. So, considering all these, you can plan to become a pharmacy technician that will give you better pay, better work schedules and other benefits – all by just obtaining your pharmacy technician certification.

Cities with the Highest Wages

Four out of the five top-paying metropolitan areas for Pharmacy Technicians are in California. The average national wage rate is $13.70 an hour, but the hourly range for the top five metropolitan areas is $18.24 in Santa Cruz to $20.51 in San Francisco. The annual mean wage distribution among the top five metro areas is actually fairly tight with Pharmacy Technician salaries ranging from $37,950 to $42,660 for a 12% difference. Clearly the pay range for Pharmacy Technicians working in large metropolitan areas can be expected to be more than the average for all employees.

When seeking employment, your chances of success are increased by looking in those areas with high employment numbers. For example, the Tacoma area employs 620 Pharmacy Technicians, while the Oakland area employs 1,860 technicians.

How much will you make as a pharmacy technician?

When considering this question, keep in mind that wages for Pharmacy Technicians are determined by location, years of experience, education level and certifications. Though this occupation does not require an advanced degree beyond high school, those who get formal training can command higher pay.

There are many schools available that offer Pharmacy Technician programs leading to a certificate or an associate’s degree. In addition to the formal education, higher paid Pharmacy Technicians also obtain certification through a recognized certifying organization. These organizations include the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.  States usually require registration also.

Salaries are often dependent on overall population needs and the cost of living. Since these are average (mean) salary ranges, you can gain a higher salary with more education and skills. Your exact background will play a role in your income.

Pharmacy Technician Salaries for Metropolitan Areas with the Highest Employment Levels

The areas with the highest concentrations of Pharmacy Technicians are fairly small population areas. It is not surprising, then, that the annual mean wages of four out of the five metropolitan areas are lower than the national mean annual pharmacy tech pay of $28,500. In fact, at $21,960, Gadsden, Alabama pays almost 30% below the national average annual wage . The difference in annual mean wages between Gadsden, Alabama and Madera, California is $9,030 or 41%. Of course, when looking at wages it is necessary to also take the cost-of-living into consideration. It is more expensive to live in California than in Alabama.

Wages for Pharmacy Technicians are clearly affected by the geographic region where the jobs are located. There are other factors that will determine pay also including years of experience and certification. Some Pharmacy Technicians are specializing in medical areas such as chemotherapy and nursing home care, while others are obtaining jobs in pharmaceutical sales where commissions can be earned in addition to straight pay.

The employment opportunities for pharmacy technicians over the next 10 years are expected to be excellent for two primary reasons. The passage of the national healthcare legislation will lead to over 30 million new insured citizens with drug coverage. In addition, the fastest growing population group is found in the group of people over 55 years old.

Job Description

Under the supervision of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians help prepare medications for customers. The technician may measure, mix, or count out the medication and then label the item with information that includes the amount and dosage. Administrative and customer service duties are also usually performed by these individuals. If a pharmacy aide is not on staff, the technician may stock shelves, answer the phone, and operate the cash register. Technicians work in a pharmacy setting and can increasingly be found in retail pharmacy environments.

Salary Statistics

The mean annual wage of the 333,500 pharmacy technicians employed in the U.S. in May 2010 was $29,330, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The lowest ten percent earned $19,840 annually, while the median had a salary of $28,400. The top ten percent were earning $40,710.

The federal executive branch was the industry paying the highest annual mean wage, with management, technical, and scientific services coming in a close second.

Alaska, Washington, California, Hawaii, and District of Columbia were the highest paying states, in order. Those who want to avoid earning an annual mean wage of $26,000 or lower should not relocate to states like Arkansas, Kentucky, or Oklahoma.

Job Outlook

2008 – 2018 Projected Employment Changes 99,800 new pharmacy technician jobs 31% increase in employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment to increase much faster than average for pharmacy technicians and it characterizes job opportunities as good, especially for individuals with certification, formal training, or prior experience. An expected employment increase of 31 percent between 2008 and 2018 and large states like California, Texas, and Florida employing the most workers in this field should make it easier for a pharmacy technician to find a job.

Education & Training

A national training standard does not exist for the pharmacy technician career. However, employers look highly upon previous related experience, certification, or formal training. In some states, a high school diploma or equivalent is required. Very few pharmacy technicians surveyed by the O*Net occupational service had less than a high school diploma. Sixteen percent possessed a high school diploma or equivalent and 77 percent attended college but did not complete a degree program.

Most people in this career receive informal training while working, which usually takes about three to 12 months. Those interested can enroll in formal educational programs through the military, hospitals, vocational schools, and community colleges. Lab and classroom work is included in these six-month to two-year courses of study.

Central to the curriculum are pharmacy law, terminology, calculations, techniques, and recordkeeping. Learning the names, uses, doses, and actions of medications is also required. Some programs include an internship that allows the student to work in a pharmacy for hands-on learning.

A certification is not required by most states but the technician usually must register with the board of pharmacy in the state. Registration may require a high school diploma or equivalent and the payment of an application fee.

The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT) and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) both offer national certification exams that may increase chances of being hired. A high school diploma or equivalent is required to take either exam. In addition, the candidate may not have any felony convictions and PTCB exam applicants may not have any pharmacy or drug related convictions, even misdemeanors. Continuing education of 20 hours every two years is required for recertification.

Related Occupations

Occupations related to healthcare include the following:

  • Pharmacists – Pharmacists occupy a higher rung on the pharmacy career ladder than technicians, distributing prescription drugs without supervision.
  • Medical records – Medical records technicians perform the compilation, processing, and maintenance of patient medical records.
  • Medical transcriptionists – Medical transcriptionists convert dictated recordings from healthcare professionals into medical reports and correspondence.

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