Pharmacy Technician Salary & Job Prospects
Just graduated from high school and aren’t sure what to study? Are you thinking of starting an entirely new career path?
Consider a rewarding career as a pharmacy technician. With dependable hours and the ability to find a position in virtually any city in the United States, this growing field is an excellent option for someone looking for a stable line of work.
Signing up for a pharmacy technician training program is the first step towards a dependable and exciting career in the allied healthcare sector. Discover everything that awaits you when starting in this growing field.
What Does a Pharmacy Tech Do?
If you’ve ever called a pharmacy, you’ve probably already spoken to a pharmacy tech. Techs are the right-hand of pharmacists, ensuring that drugstores are well-stocked and customers receive the care that they need.
These professionals receive and certify prescriptions, administer and label medications, and work with patients and pharmacists to verify insurance paperwork. If a patient’s insurance coverage runs into complications, techs are usually responsible for speaking with insurance companies to clarify or solve situations.
When it comes to organizational skills, pharmacy techs are the backbone of the business. Whether it’s stocking items, pricing inventory, or filling prescriptions, you can bet that a tech has done it all. They may even help out around the store wherever extra assistance is needed.
Where Can Pharmacy Techs Work?
The majority of professionals in this allied healthcare sector find entry-level work in major drugstores and retail pharmacies (like Duane Reade, Walgreens, and CVS). It’s important to remember that – while salaries may be on the lower end at these locations – these are excellent places to hone skills.
With the right attitude and dedication, you’ll become an indispensable member of your team and deserving of promotions. If that’s not enough to sway your opinion, here are 22 reasons why becoming a pharmacy tech is a great career.
When you build up your resumé and knowledge of the industry, you’ll have far greater selection of future jobs, such as:
- Mail-order pharmacies – Techs in these types of pharmacies fill prescriptions with automated dispensing machines. They may be asked to work as an insurance representative or data input specialist, depending on their set of skills. Here, you will not have physical interactions with customers.
- Compounding pharmacies – Pharmacy technicians who work here are expected to fill custom prescriptions, as well as package unit doses. Specialized certification may be required in order to work with certain substances.
- Hospital and nursing home pharmacies – If you work in a medical facility, you’ll be expected to prepare single-dose medications, injectable solutions, and IV bags for long-term and emergency patients.
- You may also be trained in aseptic and clean room techniques, as well as hospital computer system skills. Jobs are typically offered to workers with at least 3-5 years of experience (often at a retail pharmacy).
Hours of Work
Depending on your working environment, hours can change quite dramatically. For those working in a 24-hour pharmacy, expect to be asked to work night shifts, on weekends, holidays, or even a variety of shifts. At medical facilities like a nursing home or hospital, schedules can vary dramatically, too.
If you find work with a compounding or mail-order pharmacy, you may be able to count on having nights, holidays, and weekends free.
Pharmacy Tech Salaries
As of May 2017, the median full-time pharmacy technician annual salary was $31,750. Entry-level techs typically command less than that, with the lowest 10% earning about $22,000 per year.
The top 10% in the business, however, rake in just under $47,000. These professionals have likely worked their way up the ladder and are often employed by private or public hospitals.
In addition to fair wages, most retail pharmacies provide their techs with great benefits like vacation, insurance coverage, and even investment fund services.
Does It Matter Where I Work in the United States?
Like most allied healthcare positions, pharmacy techs on the West Coast earn more than anywhere else. Expect to earn an average of $40,000 (around $20 per hour) for a full-time position in California, Oregon, or Washington.
The American South pays lower-than-average salaries across the board, but also comes with a lower cost of living. That said, Kentucky and Alabama techs can come away with a median income of $29,000, which is just shy of $14 per hour.
What Does the Pharmacy Tech Job Market Look Like?
From 2016 to 2026, it’s expected that the job market for pharmacy techs will rise by 12%. Most allied healthcare careers anticipate major growth, thanks to an aging population and the changing responsibilities of pharmacists.
The CDC states that 25% of Americans are living with multiple chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer. This risk increases to 75% if they’re 65 or older. When a person has multiple chronic conditions, their rate of hospitalization and need for treatment rises dramatically, thus raising their need for daily treatment.
20% of Americans will be senior citizens by 2030, and pharmacy techs will be relied upon for their professionalism and knowledge of life-saving medications.
In recent years, pharmacists have become responsible for more patient care than ever, including giving seasonal flu shots. To keep up with the pace, pharmacy technicians are stepping up to prepare more medications, working to collect patient information and double-checking other technicians’ work.
The First Steps to Becoming a Pharmacy Tech
For those looking to become a pharmacy technician, there are a few possible routes to take.
Though a two-year associate degree might be a great choice for some, we recommend finding an accredited vocational school or college which offers pharmacy technician training that lasts less than one year.
Not only is this a great way to enter the workforce quickly, but you’ll do it without incurring a lot of debt.
To apply, you’ll need to possess a high school diploma (or equivalent), be 18 years or older, and pass a criminal background check and drug screening, since you’ll be handling controlled substances.
What Education Can I Expect from Pharmacy Technician Training?
Training typically starts in the classroom, where you’ll learn about medical terminology, as well as proper drug administration, regulations, and classifications (especially which drugs should never be taken together). You’ll also learn how to properly package prescriptions, keep an organized pharmacy, and assist customers in a variety of ways.
Once the classroom portion is finished, you’ll be expected to complete an internship alongside a pharmacy tech mentor in either a retail or hospital pharmacy. Here, you’ll put what you’ve learned to the test, gaining the real-world skills you’ll need to become a dependable allied healthcare professional.
Another tremendous reason for going through a training program is to discover your aptitude and enthusiasm for a position like this. Some technicians fall in love with the industry, and continue working while putting themselves through pharmacist school.
Should I Get My Pharmacy Tech Certification?
Once your training and internship are finished, you’ll be eligible to take your Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam via the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). This CPhT credential goes a long way towards setting you apart from someone who is just a pharmacy tech in training.
It’s true that some pharmacies hire techs with zero experience in the industry and train them on the job. Many states, however, require training via a technical school or college, as well as certification. Even if your state doesn’t require pharmacy tech certification, that doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future.
The right training also shows prospective employers that you’re dedicated to being the best pharmacy tech you can be.
Find the Best Pharmacy Tech Course in Your Area
By signing up for a pharmacy technician training course, you’ll be taking the first step towards becoming a member of an exciting and growing industry.
If you’re interested in studying medicine and pharmacy management while keeping people healthy, there’s never been a better time to enter this field.
For those in the New Jersey area, be sure to check out the AIMS Pharmacy Technician Program. Contact us today so you can start your future career off on the right foot.