Pharmacy Technician Salary Guide
Find out what a good pharmacy technician salary really is and decide for yourself whether it’s going to be the right income level for you.
Read our articles to discover what’s really required to be a qualified pharmacy technician, and how much money you can expect to earn per annum once employed.
Pharmacy Technician Salary Rates
Pharmacy technicians are people trained in pharmacy handling. They have all the skills necessary to handle a pharmacy but do not have the educational qualifications to become a pharmacist. They work with pharmacists and customers, handling prescriptions, patient records, and medication. A pharmacy technician fills out prescriptions by weighing, counting, and measuring medications as required.
Most pharmacy technicians spend their time behind the counter of a pharmacy, standing through the day to meet customer’s requirements. Often, they are also expected to carry-in or move heavy boxes, ladders, and other containers that are delivered to the pharmacy. A pharmacy technician can be a single employee in a small pharmacy or part of a team of technicians in larger pharmacies.
Pharmacy technicians are often expected to maintain odd-hours, especially if the pharmacy is a 24-hour one. They might also be required to work night shifts and weekends. Their duties can vary depending on the pharmacy and range from simple medication dispensing and customer interaction to answer phone calls and operating the cash counter.
An employee’s pharmacy technician salary mostly depends on his experience and qualifications. Many technicians do not have any formal qualification and have learnt the pharmacy trade on-the-job under a pharmacist. Such pharmacists generally receive lower salaries than those with a formal diploma or certificate in pharmacy handling.
The overall work experience of a pharmacy technician is also an important deciding criterion in his salary. Pharmacy technician salary for new or trainee level technicians usually ranges around $25,000 per annum for the first couple of years of work.
Once they have learnt the trade and have gathered some experience, they can expect a hike to around $30,000 per annum.
This can increase steadily with experience, and someone with 10-years of experience could expect a pharmacy technician salary as high as $40,000 annually. The average annual starting salary for pharmacy technicians as listed by the American Medical Association is $19,000.
If we consider the pharmacy technician salary in terms of hourly wages, then you can expect to draw anything between $10 and $17 per hour. Those in the initial stages of their career usually draw between $9 and $11 per hour, while technicians with several years of experience under their belt can expect and demand up to $17 per hour.
Pharmacy technician salary is also dependent on the type and size of pharmacy they are employed with. Pharmacies attached with big clinics or hospitals often have better pay scales than neighborhood pharmacies. Small, single-person pharmacies cannot afford to match the pay rates of these bigger institutions.
Technicians who are certified can expect higher salary scales, though it might not be much higher than the rates mentioned above. An increase in pharmacy technician salary usually happens once a year and then too, the decision is totally based on the discretion of the pharmacist.
It is true that many pharmacy technician jobs can be limited in what they can offer in the way of career advancement options unless the technician also has good educational qualifications or are willing to enroll in higher programs such as that for becoming a pharmacist.
The maximum promotion a pharmacy technician can expect in his career is to a supervisor position at the pharmacy. A supervisory position is possible if the pharmacist is employed with a multi-technician pharmacy and has accrued as much as seven years experience.
The yearly pharmacy technician salary for a supervisor can be between $40,000 and $50,000 depending on the pharmacy and your ability on the job.
What Can You Expect From a Pharmacy Technician Job?
Careers as a pharmacy technician are growing in popularity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, the number of those employed in this job is expected to grow at a rapid rate. Estimates indicate that this profession is expected to outpace the average growth of many other fields.
Pharmacy technicians aid licensed pharmacists in preparing prescriptions. This may include accepting prescriptions from customers or physicians’ offices, counting tablets or labeling prescription containers. In small organizations, technicians may also assist with other duties such as operating cash registers, restocking shelves, answering telephones and aiding customers.
Depending on the facility in which the technician works, hours can vary widely. In addition to traditional retail pharmacies and hospitals, pharmacy technicians may also work for government, school, non-profit organizations, sports teams or schools. In traditional retail pharmacies, there are generally no night shifts or major holidays. However, working on weekends may be required.
In hospital pharmacies or others which stay open twenty-four hours a day, there is a potential for being scheduled for work on nights, weekends and holidays. Many pharmacy technicians choose to work only part time, but there are some full time positions available.
Benefits are variable depending on the company worked for as well as the position held. In many cases, part time employees are not eligible for benefits. There are some companies that do offer this employee group benefits however. Benefits offered may include insurance, discounts, vacation, holiday pay, paid time off, sick pay, paid time off or retirement. Some companies also offer financial assistance for employees who wish to further their education.
Salary may depend on a number of factors, including type of pharmacy, location, experience and education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for a pharmacy technician in May 2008 was $13.32. Those on the low end of the pay scale make less than $9.27 and those at the highest end make more than $18.98.
Those wishing to increase their salary should start by taking a close look at their education. While most companies accept those with on the job training and some accept those with little more than a high school diploma, individuals who have completed a formal pharmacy technician education program or who have obtained pharmacy tech certification are generally highly regarded.
Education programs can last anywhere from six months to two years. They are typically offered through colleges. The more extensive programs cover terminology, calculations, law, ethics, record keeping, and techniques. Familiarity with medications, their customary uses and doses is often required as well. Some programs include internships. Upon completion of the program, students will receive either a certificate, diploma or associate degree, depending on the type of program taken.
Certification is not required by all states or companies. It generally consists of a written examination. Those taking the test must get a certain percentile of answers correct in order to obtain certification. National certification is generally done through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT). There is a fee required in order to take the certification exam. Continuing education credits may be required to maintain your pharmacy technician certification.
In addition to training and certification, there are other factors that may also help increase the pharmacy technician salary that you earn. Additional skills can increase value to an employer. This is especially true in small organizations where employees may be expected to fill more than one job.
The type of organization a pharmacy tech chooses to work in can have a significant impact on salary. Non-profit organizations, hospitals, foundations and trusts, and the federal governments tend to offer higher salaries. Teams, colleges and universities are on the lower end of the salary range.
As with most jobs, experience is a factor. Those just entering into this position might expect to start making a pharmacy technician salary that’s on the lower end of the scale. However, as experience grows, salary will follow. In many cases, more experienced pharmacy technicians also benefit from a better schedule with fewer nights, weekends and holidays.