How much does a pharmacy technician make?
If you're looking to launch a new career, you might be thinking about trying to become a pharmacy technician. But before you do it, you may want to know how much you can expect to make once you start working.
It can be tough to predict exactly how much you'll make when you start a job as a pharmacy technician. There are more than 400,000 people working as pharmacy technicians today at nearly 68,000 pharmacies scattered across the country. And they all make different amounts depending on how long they've been working, which pharmacy they work for, the state in which they reside, and other factors.
But we can provide you with a general idea of how much you can expect to make as a pharmacy technician by taking a closer look at the profession as a whole. Let's break it down below.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
Before we get into talking about how much money you can make as a pharmacy technician, it's important for you to understand what pharmacy technicians do.
Sometimes people confuse pharmacy technicians for pharmacists. They're under the impression that pharmacy technicians and pharmacists are one and the same when that actually isn’t true.
While pharmacy technicians and pharmacists do work together, they have different roles within a pharmacy. Pharmacy technicians report to pharmacists and almost serve as their assistants throughout the course of a shift.
As a pharmacy technician, you will have several key responsibilities at work. You will likely be in charge of measuring, mixing, and labeling prescription drugs for pharmacy customers. You will also usually be in charge of working at the cash register at a pharmacy and helping anyone who needs to fill out health insurance forms.
You will not typically be in charge of dispensing medications to pharmacy customers or offering them advice on the prescription drugs they are taking. It’s usually up to the pharmacist on duty to speak with customers about the side effects of drugs and the dosages patients need to be taking.
What Skills Does a Pharmacy Technician Need to Have?
There are many skills you'll need to have if you're going to be a successful pharmacy technician.
You will need to be familiar with all of the different prescription drugs that are available at a pharmacy. Since you're going to be handling these drugs on a daily basis, it's important for you to know as much as you can about them, even if you aren't typically going to be discussing them with customers.
It's also important for you to be trustworthy and responsible. A pharmacist needs to be able to depend on you to measure medications properly and keep them contained and safe.
Additionally, you're likely going to be communicating with people who might be sick or injured. Therefore, it’s helpful to be warm, compassionate, and ready to empathize with those who come in to speak with you.
A good pharmacy technician is usually a people person who likes to get to know others and help them.
What Kind of Education Does a Pharmacy Technician Need?
In order to work as a pharmacy technician, you typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition, many pharmacy technicians complete career training to prepare for the position. Most states regulate the pharmacy technician role, as well, which can include passing an exam and earning certification.
You don't need to get your hands on an associate degree to become a pharmacy technician. But earning one can increase your earning potential and make you a more attractive candidate to employers.
The great thing about studying to become a pharmacy technician is that you can take online courses that will work for you if you have a busy schedule. When you take a pharmacy technician education program, you'll typically learn about:
- How to keep accurate records in a medical setting
- How to make pharmaceutical calculations
- What pharmaceutical and medical terminology you'll need to know
- How to prepare a health insurance claim
- How privacy laws and ethics affect pharmacy technicians
There are some states that will allow you to work as a pharmacy technician with little more than a high school degree. But there are others that require additional training or ask for pharmacy technicians to pass a certification exam before they begin working.
Check with your state to see exactly how much education and/or training they require for a person to start a career as a pharmacy technician.
But no matter what your specific state requires, earning a degree can typically put you in a position to earn more income. And the more you know about working in a pharmacy, the better you can perform on the job—and the farther your career will go.
What Is the Schedule Like?
It's almost time to reveal how much money you can make working as a pharmacy technician. But before we do, there's one other thing you should keep in mind when considering a career as a pharmacy technician: Your schedule.
Working as a pharmacy technician isn’t always a 9-to-5 job. There are obviously some pharmacies that still keep standard business hours. But many pharmacies today have extended hours, and there are even some that stay open 24/7/365 to provide people with prescriptions whenever they need them.
As a pharmacy technician, you might be asked to work:
- A day shift that lasts from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or some other combination of 8 hours. At the very least, most pharmacies maintain regular business hours, and you'll likely be expected to work during them from time to time.
- A night shift that lasts for 8 hours if your pharmacy is open 24/7. There are also some pharmacy technicians that work overnight shifts at places like hospitals and inpatient pharmacies.
- A weekend or holiday shift on a day like the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. People don't stop getting sick simply because it's a holiday, which means you might be asked to work holidays occasionally.
Your schedule will ultimately depend on where you choose to work. But you should prepare yourself for the possibility of working hours outside of the usual business hours.
How Much Does a Pharmacy Technician Make?
It's impossible to predict exactly how much you're going to be able to make as a pharmacy technician. As we mentioned earlier, it depends on a number of factors.
But on average, pharmacy technicians get paid an hourly rate somewhere around $13 per hour, according to data collected from more than 21,000 people via Payscale.com. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports similar numbers, with an hourly median of $15.26 or $31,750 per year.
The BLS also reports that the bottom 10% of earners in this field make an average of $22,000 per year, while the top 10% of earners in this field make $46,980.
As you gain more experience in the industry, though, you may have access to higher-paying opportunities. For example, there are pharmacy technicians working in outpatient healthcare centers or for the federal government who earn nearly $40,000 per year or more.
If you want to get a better idea of how much pharmacy technicians in your specific area are paid, do some research. You can likely find job listings for pharmacy technicians in your community and see how much those jobs are offering.
What Does the Future Hold for Pharmacy Technicians?
If you've been considering a job as a pharmacy technician, now may be the right time to throw your hat into the ring.
Over the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that there will be 47,600 new pharmacy technician jobs added to the field across the country. There are a couple of key reasons for the rising demand for new pharmacy technicians.
The first reason is that more and more Americans are taking prescription drugs these days. A 2017 study revealed that more than 50 percent of Americans now take at least one prescription regularly.
Another reason is that the elderly population in the U.S. is growing. By 2030, 1 out of every 5 Americans is going to be over the age of 65. That means older people in this country are going to outnumber kids for the first time in U.S. history.
As a result, there will be a growing need for pharmacy technicians to distribute prescription drugs to people in their golden years. And as the demand for pharmacy technicians rises, the pay for those in pharmacy positions may rise as well.
This is a good reason to look at pharmacy technician as a viable career option.
Consider Starting a Career as a Pharmacy Technician Today
Now that you know the answer to the question “How much does a pharmacy technician make?” think long and hard about beginning your path to becoming a pharmacy technician today.
As a pharmacy technician, you'll get the chance to make a real difference in people's lives. You'll also get the chance to communicate with people regularly and put a smile on their faces.
There can also be opportunities for you to grow as you become more experienced as a pharmacy technician. You may be able to make earn money over the years when you do a great job.
Read our blog to learn more about what a pharmacy technician does and why it would be a solid career choice for you.