Becoming a pharmacy technician is a great career option for those who want a healthcare career but don’t want to work in direct patient care or in a bedside role. It is a rapidly growing and rewarding field where you have an opportunity to help patients get the medications they need to stay healthy.
But before committing yourself to any professional healthcare role, it’s always wise to educate yourself on how much you can make and the factors that will impact your salary potential.
If you are exploring a rewarding career as a pharmacy technician and want to understand more about the salary you can expect to earn as one, this article is for you.
Part One What Is a Pharmacy Technician?
A pharmacy technician, also referred to as a certified pharmacy technician (CPHT), is an allied healthcare professional who works within the pharmacy setting and assists with pharmacy-related duties under a licensed pharmacist’s supervision.
They are essential for ensuring that operations run smoothly and efficiently within the pharmacy or compounding pharmacy.
In order to become a pharmacy technician, you’ll need to complete either a certificate or diploma program, or an associate’s degree program. Both will typically require a high school diploma or GED.
Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of medical settings where medications are handled and dispensed. Most work in pharmacies located in hospitals, drug stores, or grocery stores.
Part Two About the Pharmacy Technician Career
If you have ever picked up a prescription at a pharmacy, then you have probably seen a pharmacy tech in action.
While working alongside the pharmacists, pharmacy techs help ensure patients and families receive the correct medications filled with the right amount per the script.
Other responsibilities of a pharmacy tech include:
- Receive and process prescriptions that have been sent electronically, by phone, or by prescription from drop-off.
- Fill prescription bottles with correct medications and dosages and apply labels to the bottle.
- Mix medications (if state law and pharmacy policy allow).
- Give patients their medication as well as review directions and other information with them.
- Assist patients with paying for medications.
- Manage patient medical records.
- Manage records of in-house medications and ensure stock is up-to-date.
- Assist and resolve matters with patients’ insurance carriers.
- Obtain refill authorizations from doctors.
- Handle patient complaints and issues.
- Assist with other pharmacy-related tasks.
>> Related: How to Become a Pharmacy Technician
Part Three What Is the Average Salary of a Pharmacy Technician?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a pharmacy technician’s average salary in 2019 was $33,950 per year or $16.32 per hour. The job outlook is bright in the profession, with a projection of 4% growth between 2019-2029.
Part Four Pharmacy Technician Salary Factors
There are a number of things that can impact how much you can make as a pharmacy technician. Let's dig into 3 of the biggest: experience, place of work, and skills.
Years of Experience
As you grow in the field and gain more years of experience, you will have opportunities to earn more as a pharmacy technician. If you bring a hard work ethic, show that you are willing to learn as much as possible, and maintain a positive attitude, your employer may even offer bonuses or hourly pay increases.
After a few months on the job, you may want to consider asking your employer for feedback to make sure your work is matching expectations. Always listen to feedback, even if it is constructive criticism - there is always an opportunity for you to learn more.
Your tenacity may even catapult you into a higher-level or supervisor role. By taking on more leadership and administrative responsibilities, you will make more money as well.
According to Payscale, the average pay for a certified pharmacy technician (CPHT) by years of experience ranged from $14.29 per hour for entry-level pharmacy techs to $18.06 per hour for CPHTs with 20+ years of experience.
Pharmacy Technician Salary by Years of Experience
|Years of Experience||Hourly wage|
Data via Payscale
Place of Work
Where you work plays a significant role in your salary, with many estimates stating that pharmacy techs earn as much as 20% more in a hospital than a drugstore.
Keep in mind that many hospitals require both prior work experience and national certification to be considered for employment. It might make sense to get your feet in the door and gain experience in a drugstore setting first before making a transition into a hospital.
Pharmacy Technician Salary by Employer
|Place of Work||Annual Salary|
|Pharmacies & Drug Stores||$33,110|
|Food & Beverage Stores||$32,320|
Data via BLS
According to Payscale, your skill level is a factor that can determine your salary. If you have prior work experience with any of the following skills, you may have an opportunity to make a higher salary.
- Aseptic Processing
- Order Inventory
- Data Entry
- Microsoft Office
- Hospital experience
Part Five Pharmacy Technician Salary by City and State
Where you choose to live has a lot of influence on your earning potential and has the potential to impact what you earn compared to the national average.
In some cases, pharmacy techs use the following information to decide where it makes the most sense to live and work.
Highest Paying States for Pharmacy Technicians
Here are the top 5 highest paying states for pharmacy technicians according to the BLS:
- California: $22.89 per hour, or $47,620 per year
- Alaska: $22.32 per hour, or $46,430 per year
- Washington: $22.31 per hour, or $46,400 per year
- District of Columbia: $22.23 per hour, or $46,240 per year
- Oregon: $20.87 per hour, or $43,410 per year
Pharmacy Technician Salary By State
|State||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|District of Columbia||$22.23||$46,240|
Highest Paying Cities for Pharmacy Technicians
Here are the top 5 highest paying cities for pharmacy technicians according to the BLS:
- San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, CA: $27.22 per hour, or $56,620 per year
- San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, CA: $26.93 per hour, or $56,020 per year
- Santa Rosa, CA: $25.39 per hour, or $52,810 per year
- Stockton-Lodi, CA: $24.45 per hour, or $50,860 per year
- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA: $24.32 per hour, or $50,580 per year
Part Six Ways to Increase Your Salary as a Pharmacy Technician
There are a lot of opportunities for pharmacy techs to earn a higher salary. It is often a matter of putting in a little extra grit and being creative, combined with thinking outside the box.
Some pharmacy techs have taken on side-hustles of some sort of another, but if you want to focus on making more money within your career as a pharmacy tech, here are several ideas for you to earn a higher income:
- Ask for more responsibilities and show that you are so valuable that they can’t operate without you.
- Ask for a raise.
- Get nationally certified. Many institutions will pay a few dollars more per hour because you have the certification to back up your skills.
- Look for per diem pharmacy tech jobs to work on your off days.
- Consider being a travel pharmacy tech (explore other areas of the country while getting paid for it!)
- Always research the pay scale within your city and surrounding cities. It may make sense for you to move an hour away to be closer to a metropolitan city that can offer you a higher salary.
- Consider living in another state that offers a higher salary, especially states where the cost of living is less expensive. You may find that you will have a higher quality of life, even if the pay isn’t that much higher because it costs so much to live there.
- If you live in an area where the cost of living doesn’t make sense, consider the possibility of moving to a place where it does. For example, many pharmacy techs in California make the highest salary in the country, but the cost is so high that it is driving some to leave the state. If you can spend less on living expenses, then you just gave yourself a bonus.
Part Seven How Much Do Pharmacy Technicians Make?
There are multiple factors to consider regarding how much a pharmacy technician can earn.
It is highly beneficial to know as much about the details that may affect your salary as to make educated decisions about your career.
By understanding salary ranges based on workplace factors, level of experience, and the state and city where you live, you can maximize your earning potential and make a salary that reflects your hard work and skill level.