By Diane Turner
A pharmacy technician acts as an assistant to licensed pharmacists, dispensing medications to customers and helping to maintain and organize the pharmacy as necessary. Pharmacy technicians can work in a hospital setting or in a private pharmacy. The average pharmacy technician salarywill vary within locations based on the amount responsibility the technician will be expected to take on while on the job. Some pharmacies will require pharmacy technicians to be available at all hours will others will maintain standard business hours.
Pharmacy technicians will be expected to take orders from customers and verify their information with their health care professionals to properly fill a prescription. They may be asked to mix medications, count tablets, prepare ointments, package and label prescriptions before they are delivered to the customer. They may also be asked to perform basic office tasks such as maintaining records, answering question from customers, answering phones, processing insurance claims or taking payments for prescriptions.
You may be able to start working as a pharmacy technician with a high school diploma and background check. Some states may require you to continue your education while working as a technician, pay fees or take an exam to become licensed. In some cases, the salary of a pharmacy technicianmay be increased if the employee is willing to go through the licensing process. Most of these training programs take a year to complete. On the job training or internships at a pharmacy may be honored in place of a training program in some states.
In addition to having the necessary medical training to manage the medications available at a pharmacy, pharmacy technicians are encouraged to have strong organizational skills. Those interested in pursuing a career in a pharmaceutical environment are encouraged to be detail oriented because you will be working with medications that must be packaged and dispensed quickly and accurately. Pharmacy technicians are also encouraged to have strong customer service skills so you can answer questions and make customers feel at ease.
Pharmacy Technician Average Salary
The pharmacy technician average salary is $28,400 per year. While there is not much training necessary to start into the field, things like location, experience in the field and the type of employer you work with have a strong impact on the average salary of a pharmacy technician. Understanding these influences will help you determine the best place to seek out a position as a pharmacy technician.
Pharmacy Technician Salary Factors and Influences
Much of the variation in the salary of a pharmacy technician depends on the type of pharmacy that employs an individual. Listed below are the top employers in this industry and their average salaries.
General Surgical or Medical Hospitals Average Salary: $33,830
Grocery Store Pharmacy Average Salary: $29,040
Health and Personal Care Stores Average Salary: $28,580
General Merchandise Store Pharmacies Average Salary: $28,080
Department Store Pharmacies Average Salary: $27,300
As you can see, there is not much differentiation amongst specific pharmacy branches. The average salary for a pharmacy technician holds steady amongst different branches, making it easier to find a location that offers a reasonable salary in your area. Much of the differentiation in the salaries offered comes from the amount of business that the facility sees on a regular basis. Locations like hospitals may also offer more competitive salaries for their pharmacy technicians because these individuals will need to be on-call at all hours while others will run on normal business hours. This allows you the opportunity to pick up overtime pay if you are willing to work a later schedule.
The type of pharmacy that you work for will also play a significant role in the salary you will receive as a pharmacy technician. Make note of the top paying pharmaceutical locations:
Federal Branch Pharmacies: Average Salary $40,350
Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting Facilities: Average Salary $38,850
Outpatient Care Centers: Average Salary $37,980
Computer Systems Design and Similar Services: Average Salary $37,150
Colleges, Professional Schools and Universities: Average Salary $37,120
In these facilities, the technician’s role will be more in line with supporting the pharmacy as a whole rather than dispensing medication to the public. You may be asked to assist with research into new drugs, provide information to the public or teach pharmacy technicians in training how to perform tasks properly. Because these facilities will require technicians to take on more responsibility and be more self-sufficient, the pharmacy technician average salaryat these locations is somewhat higher than what you would see at a location like a grocery store where your superior will be able to offer constant supervision and guidance.
Location will also play a factor in the salary you are able to earn as a pharmacy technician. In general, metropolitan areas pay more than nonmetropolitan areas. The highest paying nonmetropolitan area is Eastern Texas, offering pharmacy technicians an average salary of $27,940 annually. Compare this to the largest metropolitan market for pharmacy technicians, San Jose-Sunnyvale in California, which offers pharmacy technicians an average of $45,760 annually. This is largely due to the fact that pharmacies in metropolitan areas are more likely to see large amounts of traffic while more rural areas will have a limited customer base they will be expected to serve.
In addition to considering population when looking for areas that are ideal to begin a pharmacy technician career, clients must note the type of facilities available in the area. Locations that have several pharmaceutical schools, research facilities or major pharmaceutical companies located nearby will have more positions available in a variety of locations, making it easier to get a competitive wage in the pharmaceutical technician field. Having a variety of markets available to you will also make it easier to get more education in the field if you so choose. This will allow you to move up at your pharmacy, earning a higher wage as your responsibilities increase.
Pharmacy Technician Salary Compared To Related Fields
Medical assistants are often compared to pharmacy technicians because these fields encourage employees to have a certain level of medical knowledge, but do not necessarily require training or education before joining the field. Here we see how the average salary for a pharmacytechnician compares to basic salaries for other fields.
Average Salary for a Pharmacy Technician: $28,400
Average Salary for a Medical Assistant: $28,860
Average Salary for a Dental Assistant: $33,470
Average Salary for Medical Transcriptionist: $32,900
Average Salary for a Medical Record or Health Information Transcriptionist: $32,350
While the salary of a pharmacy technician may not be in the same range as a pharmacist, it is easy to use this opportunity to familiarize yourself with the field while earning the necessary degrees and certifications to work your way up in the field. Those that are interested in jumping right into the field without spending years getting the training they need can use their position as a pharmacy technician to work their way up in the field, increasing their salary over time.
Pharmacy Technician Salary by State
There is a bit of discrepancy in pharmacy technician salary by state. Listed below are the highest paying states that employ pharmacy technicians and their rates.
Pharmacy Technician Salary in California: $38,380
Pharmacy Technician Salary in New York: $30,030
Pharmacy Technician Salary in Texas: $30,940
Pharmacy Technician Salary in Illinois: $30,030
Pharmacy Technician Salary in Florida: $28,190
The highest salaries that states offer should not be the only consideration when searching for a position as a pharmacy technician. You must also consider the concentration of pharmacy technicians to determine how this may affect your chances. Listed below are the states with the highest concentration of pharmacy technicians.
Average Salary in Maine; $29,090
Average Salary in Tennessee: $28,140
Average Salary in Missouri: $26,980
Average Salary in Kentucky: $25,660
Average Salary in West Virginia: $24,830
As you can see, when the concentration of employees is high, the average salary of a pharmacy technician dips significantly. A high concentration of employers means that it may be easier to find a job, but it may also mean you have to fight harder to get a competitive salary once you enter the field.
Pharmacy Technician Types of Salaries
There is some variety in the type of positions available if you would like to work as a pharmacy technician. Much of this variety revolves around the amount of experience you have acquired on the job. Whether you are willing to work your way up in a specific pharmacy or you would like to take the time to get an additional bit of education to make yourself more marketable, you can find additional opportunities available to you as a pharmacy technician.
Assistant Pharmacy Director:Average Salary: $134,255
The assistant director will take over the director’s responsibilities when the director is absence. This will include overseeing other pharmacists, dispensing medications and pharmaceuticals and working with customers as necessary. Employees are encouraged to have 3-5 years of management experience in a similar field before seeking such a position within a pharmacy.
Pharmacy Information Systems Manager: Average Salary: $114,824
The systems manager will maintain, develop and implement any informational tools necessary to maintain the pharmacy. You may be asked to recommend software or other technological systems that could make the pharmacy run more efficiently. Familiarity with computer management systems and any necessary troubleshooting that may come along with these responsibilities is a necessity for this role.
Pharmacy Service Clerk: Average Salary: $26,439
A pharmacy service clerk will typically be the pharmacy’s representative to the customers. This may include answering phones, talking with customers that come to the counter, managing any records and taking payments as necessary. The average salaryfor a pharmacy technicianworking as a service clerk may increase over time as your ability to take on more responsibilities throughout the pharmacy as necessary.
Pharmacy Technician I: Average Salary: $32,242
A new pharmacy technician will be able to dispense medications and perform a few clerical duties. They may be asked to verify stock or receive shipments from suppliers. This may include updating and maintaining computer records of the inventory. In most cases you will not need much experience to begin working as a pharmacy technician.
Pharmacy Technician II: Average Salary: $37,084
After you have earned a bit of experience, workers can move up to a level two pharmacy technician. These employees will work directly with a pharmacist to prepare medications for customers. They will still be called upon to perform clerical duties and maintain records within the pharmacy, but in many cases it will be understood that these tasks will be performed with little to no supervision. Employees are encouraged to have at least four years of experience in the field before applying for this position.
History of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians began appearing in the late 1960s as assistants that could manage the administrative tasks throughout the pharmacy. This allowed pharmacists to finish their work more effectively without having to hire more licensed staff. In 1975 the American Society of Health System Pharmacists created specific training guidelines for pharmacy technicians, and in 1982 a specific accredited program was created for the field. It was at these milestones that the salary for a pharmacy technician grew to a more respectable level, allowing people to make a long-term career out of this opportunity.
Pharmacy Technician Salary Outlook – Conclusion
Today, there are approximately 334,400 people working as a pharmacy technician in the United States and the average salary of a pharmacy technician is $13.65 per hour. The industry is expecting to welcome an additional 108,300 employees to the field by the year 2020. This is approximately 32 percent growth, which is much faster growth than most fields see. The average pharmacy technician salaryis expected to grow as these jobs become available due to the increased competition in the field.
In addition to seeing an increase of traditional pharmaceutical jobs, research facilities will have an increased demand for technicians as their production increases as well. The training and experience needed for these positions will be relatively similar to the training and certifications that will be required to work in a traditional pharmacy.
Much of the reason why the pharmaceutical field is growing is the increase in pharmacy technology. More prescriptions are available to treat diseases that once had no cure. With the growth of prescription drug coverage through major health insurance companies, more people are visiting pharmacies for medical assistance than pharmacies have seen in the past. Those that are willing to take on a bit of extra training to learn about medications that are new on the market or the proper way to dispense them can see a higher salary for a pharmacy technician.