Pharmacy technicians fulfill a vital role in helping to maintain the daily operations of a pharmacy. As a technician, you’ll be responsible for
- Prepping, filling, and labeling medications
- Verifying prescriptions and important personal information
- Completing, filing, and storing paperwork
- Maintaining a safe, clean, and organized work environment
- Assisting with claims processing
- Handling phone calls and other patient inquiries
- Maintaining medication stock and proper storage of controlled substances
These are just a few of the duties you may be responsible for as a pharmacy technician, but you’re probably eager to get to the meat of the discussion; how much does it pay?
The pharmacy tech salary differs by state, experience, and the career path you’ve chosen. Let’s take a closer look at what affects your salary and how.
Type Of Pharmacy
Whether you found employment in a retail or hospital pharmacy will be a huge factor in your salary. While most pharmacies pay a similar wage, certain work environments, like hospitals, require more experience or specialized knowledge. This means that a hospital pharmacy tech could likely obtain a higher salary than a retail or assisted living pharmacy technician.
Choosing the right environment is about more than just the salary, though. Don’t forget that you want to be comfortable where you’re working, and retail work isn’t for everyone. A day in retail can be grueling, and some people simply don’t want to deal with angry customers. And that’s ok! You have plenty of options to choose from. You don’t have to settle for retail pharmacy if it won’t make you happy.
As with most positions, a more experienced worker will probably command a higher salary than an inexperienced one. You can expect lower salaries when you’re fresh out of school, but once you’ve been in the field for a few years, you’ll likely command more money. The average salary for a pharmacy technician in the United States falls in at around $15 per hour. For those with 6-10 years’ experience, the salary sits closer to $17 per hour, and those with 10 years or more of experience can command up to $18-$19 per hour.
This depends on several factors, of course. You have to work at the right place, have the right kind of experience, and it’s usually better to stay at the same location for an extended period of time to build a rapport.
Pharmacy tech salaries often vary by geographic location. A pharmacy technician in Ohio might make less than a pharmacy tech in California. Some states have a higher cost of living, and others simply pay more for certain jobs. Be sure to check the rates in your state before you seek employment. You may find that there are better opportunities somewhere else.
The average of $15 per hour is only the monetary salary. You also need to consider the benefits packages you might have access to. Most pharmacy technicians can expect some kind of benefits package from their employer given the position, but that depends entirely on the employer.
With a benefits package, the salary will be much more valuable—especially if your employer matches your 401(k) or provides great health insurance options.
How To Become A Pharmacy Tech
So, how does one become a pharmacy tech and enter the healthcare industry? First, you’ll need to find an accredited pharmacy technician program or earn an associate’s degree in the field. There are hundreds of programs out there, and most are flexible enough to meet the most difficult schedules. There are even programs you can complete at your own pace if you have a busy schedule or aren’t in a hurry.
Once you complete the program, which should have included a specific number of in-person training hours, you need to pass the PTCB exam. Once you pass the exam, you’ll be able to seek employment as a pharmacy tech. The exam carries a one-time fee of $129, and you should get preliminary results immediately following your completion of the exam.
A Great Choice
Pharmacy tech school offers a unique opportunity to serve the public in a job that demands compassion and a love for people. You’ll be helping people get their much-needed and often life-saving medications, which is a reward in itself. The career path is short, with some programs taking as little as 10 months to a year. You can choose to stay in your position as a pharmacy tech, or branch off into other areas of study. Or, you could eventually become the pharmacist!
Remember that your salary as a pharmacy tech is largely dependent on several factors. Experience, your location, and the type of pharmacy you work at will impact your salary. Either way, you can expect to start out making somewhere near the national average, and as you gain experience, your pay should rise.