Pharmacy technicians are often overshadowed by pharmacists, but without them the pharmaceutical industry would grind to a halt. They perform many necessary duties that pharmacists simply do not have time for. If you want to find the answer to how much do pharmacy technicians make, read on as we discuss Pharmacy Technician Salary.
Pharmacy Technician Salary
What is the salary for pharmacy technicians? They make an average of around $29,600 annually which is an average of around $2470 per month. Those new in the field can expect a starting salary at around $20,000 while the top 10% make an average of over $43,000. Technicians with more experience can command a higher wage than those just starting out. The states which pay the most for this profession are District of Columbia, Washington, California, Alaska and Hawaii.
Most pharmacy technicians are employed through pharmacies and drug stores while others work in hospitals, and retail locations. Many pharmacies offer on the job training. Some pharmacies may even pay for an employee to take a technician certification test. Most work full-time, though some work part-time. There are opportunities for overtime, especially for more experienced technicians. Some pharmacy technicians report overtime in excess of 30 hours per week.
What does a Pharmacy Technician do?
A pharmacy technician works under the supervision of a pharmacist. Duties of a pharmacy technician vary depending on where they work.
Some of the standard duties include the following
- Communicating with customers and healthcare professionals on information needed to fill a prescription.
- Measuring and filling prescriptions for patients.
- Maintaining an accurate and up to date inventory of medications.
- Answering phone calls and arranging for customers to speak with pharmacists for specific questions about medications.
- Accepting and processing payment for medications.
- Managing patient records and input new information, such as prescriptions taken, into a computer system.
Duties will vary depending on the environment that you work in. A retail pharmacy technician will spend more time answering phones calls and questions of patients than an in-patient care pharmacy technician will. Those employed in a hospital may also make rounds and administer medications to patients.
The responsibilities of pharmacy technicians appear on the surface to be quite simple; however each task requires a high level of attention to detail. Many patients rely on these medications to live and a single mistake could result in their death. A significant amount of medications are also controlled substances, and distributing more than is the allotted amount or the wrong medication could result in a lawsuit, investigation or even criminal charges.
Pharmacist technicians work in hospitals, clinics, and retail environments. Their workspace tends to be clean, but can be crowded at times. They can spend 6 to 8 hours on their feet with little opportunity to sit in a typical shift. Working hours vary depending on the location. Retail locations have 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM as common hours. Some locations as well as hospitals have 24 hour pharmacies meaning night shifts may be required, but also a greater possibility for overtime may be present.
Most pharmacist technicians will work directly with patients, having a high number of interactions with many people each shift. The pace of work will vary depending on where you work. Many places, especially retail, will have periods of time which are significantly busier than others.
How to become a Pharmacy Technician
In most states, a high school diploma or GED is enough education to become a pharmacy technician. Many jobs offer on the job training and some will pay for employees to take certification tests. These certifications can cost between $100 and $200. Retail locations are an excellent place to find entry level positions while hospitals tend to prefer more experienced candidates. Vocational schools or community colleges often offer pharmacy technician programs which are one year or shorter and some offer them in conjunction with an associate’s degree. These programs can cost between $4,000 and $17,000 to complete depending on the choice of school.
Some organizations offer certification programs, however certification is generally not required. There is no one national or required certification program. These programs require you to pay a fee, complete a background check, and prove your knowledge through a test. Those who complete an educational program or obtain certification may have better chances of getting hired as a pharmacy technician.
Beyond education, you must have certain skills to be successful as a pharmacy technician.
You will need:
- Strong Analytical Skills – Ability to understand medical charts and billing codes.
- Detail Orientation – Ability to count medication, ensure correct dosage amounts and follow prescriptions precisely.
- Strong People Skills – Ability to interact with a high volume of people throughout a shift.
- Basic Technical Skills – Ability to use computers, medical equipment and measuring devices.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates the profession of pharmacy technicians will grow 20% between 2012 and 2022. This means an estimated 70,800 new jobs will be created between 2012 and 2022. This is faster than the average rate of growth for all occupations. This growth may be caused by an aging population and changing duties.
With advances in medicine people are living longer and our population as a whole is aging. As our population ages, they require more medications and need additional pharmacy technicians to fill those orders. The aging population is also placing a greater burden on pharmacists who must devote more of their time to patient care. This will require additional pharmacist technicians for the duties traditionally done by pharmacists.
If you are considering a career as a pharmacy technician you may also consider careers as a dental assistant or a medical assistant.
Dental assistants have an average annual salary of $34,500 and require as little as one year of education through a vocational school or community college before entering the profession. As a dental assistant you could work alongside dentists and perform a wide range of duties ranging from administrative work to assisting dentists with procedures.
Medical assistants have an average annual salary of $29,370 and require similar educational requirements as dental assistants. Most medical assistant programs are less than a year through vocational schools or community colleges. As a medical assistant you could assist a variety of different types of health practitioners and perform duties ranging from assisting with patient examinations to scheduling appointments.