Pharmacy technicians are essential to the day-to-day operations of any pharmacy, nursing home or hospital. They work in a wide array of settings, and their job duties vary with employment location. This means that the expected salary of a pharmacy technician varies greatly depending on education, experience, and work setting.
Entry Level Positions
Many states allow a pharmacy technician to work with no prior experience or training. Pharmacy technicians in these states are only required to have a high school diploma. These pharmacy technicians are usually trained by the pharmacist. This allows the pharmacy technician to begin a career in healthcare with no secondary education. This is a nice benefit for someone who wants to work right out of high school.
The downside to this situation is that the rate of pay is likely to be near minimum wage. The hourly rate for a beginning pharmacy technician with no training or experience will typically range from $10 to $11 per hour. These positions are usually found in retail, privately owned, and mail order pharmacies. Most entry level pharmacy technician jobs offer a small yearly raise and paid vacation.
The hourly rate for a beginning pharmacy technician with no training or experience will typically range from $10 to $11 per hour.
Certified Pharmacy Technicians
Becoming certified is the fastest way for a pharmacy technician to give themselves an instant pay raise. Most retail pharmacies offer a pay increase to any pharmacy technician who becomes certified. Pharmacy technician certification can be obtained by taking a standardized test called the ExCPT exam.
On-the-job training may be enough to prepare some people for the ExCPT exam. For those who need more help, pharmacy technician training courses are available through many community colleges and private companies. Some large retail pharmacies and hospitals have their own training programs to prepare pharmacy technicians for certification. Large companies which do not offer training programs will often reimburse employees for the cost associated with becoming certified. This can include educational and testing fees.
Certified pharmacy technicians can expect to earn $10.00 – $16.00 depending on their experience, education and employer type. Small, privately owned pharmacies usually pay lower salaries than larger retail chains. Nursing homes and hospitals generally pay higher salaries than pharmacies; however, they usually look for certified pharmacy technicians with at least three years experience.
Certified pharmacy technicians (CPHT) with at least five years of experience can expect to earn the top salaries. These individuals are often promoted to Lead Technician status. Lead pharmacy technicians in hospital environments usually earn between $14.00 and $18.00 per hour.
A larger paycheck usually comes with more responsibility. In addition to their regular duties, the lead pharmacy technician in retail pharmacies often prepares the work schedule for all technicians, and they train newly hired technicians. They may also be given other responsibilities such as ordering medications and resolving disputes with suppliers.
Lead pharmacy technicians in hospital environments usually earn between $14.00 and $18.00 per hour.
In mail order pharmacies, there can be twenty or more pharmacy technicians on duty at any given time. In this environment, the lead technician is often the supervisor of other pharmacy technicians. This would be considered an entry-level management position and may offer a salary rather than hourly pay rate. Depending on the company, the salary can range from $34,000 to $43,000 per year.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of pharmacy technician jobs is expected to increase 4% from 2019 – 2029 which is faster than average growth rate. In 2019, employment levels for Pharmacy Technicians were 422,300 positions with projected employment for Pharmacy Technicians by 2029 estimated to be 437,500 positions. This is primarily due to the increase in number of senior citizens during that time. Pharmacy technician salaries may increase as the demand for skilled technicians increases.
In January 2021, the average wage for pharmacy technicians nationwide was $15.40 per hour. Fifty percent of pharmacy technicians made between $11.00 and $15.00 per hour. The bottom 10% was paid less than $10.00 per hour. The highest earners made $18.00 per hour or more.
The lowest earners were those with little experience and no formal training. The highest paid pharmacy technicians were those who were certified and had more than seven years of experience. Many pharmacy technicians making the top rate were labor union members and most of them worked in hospitals.