Pharmacy technicians work side-by-side with licensed pharmacists, counting and measuring medicines, serving customers and doing paperwork. In some states, a high school education and on-the-job training are sufficient for the job, while others require formal education. Training consists of a certificate program, typically lasting one year or less; some states also require professional certification. Although retail outlets, including drug stores, are the top employer for pharmacy technicians, hospital pharmacy techs earn higher salaries on average.
The average pay for pharmacy techs in all industries was $14.63 per hour or $30,430 annually full time in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although many technicians work part time, the majority are full-time employees. Eighty percent of pharmacy techs earned between $20,580 and $42,400 full-time annually as of 2012. More than half worked in health and personal care stores, typically pharmacies and drug stores, where they averaged $13.91 per hour or $28,940 per year.
As of 2012, 59,420 out of 353,340 pharmacy techs nationwide worked in hospitals of all types, according to the BLS. Their average hourly wage was $16.56, for an average annual salary of $34,450. Eighty percent of them earned annual wages between $24,440 and $46,590.
Types of Hospitals
The BLS also reports the wages of pharmacy technicians according to the type of hospital. The largest category is general medical and surgical hospitals, where annual wages averaged $34,410 for 56,710 pharmacy techs in 2012. In psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, 780 technicians averaged $33,470 per year. The category of other specialty hospitals, excluding psychiatric ones, had 1,930 pharmacy technicians in 2012 and the highest average annual pay of $36,160 per year.
Location is another important factor in pharmacy tech pay. In 2012, the District of Columbia had higher wages than any state, an annual average of $40,560 for technicians all industries, reports the BLS. In three states, average wages for pharmacy techs also exceeded $39,000 annually. Washington led with $39,630 per year, followed by Alaska at $39,520 and California at $39,150. California also reported 30,540 jobs, more than any other state, and had the highest-paying metropolitan regions. The greater San Jose area led with $48,100 annually, followed by the Oakland region at $46,450.
Advances in medicine and the aging population will contribute to a higher-than-average employment increase for pharmacy techs. The BLS predicts 32 percent growth through 2020, compared to 14 percent for all jobs. Pharmacy techs will have excellent job prospects, especially those with formal training and certification. Technicians can receive national certification by passing an exam from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the National Healthcareer Association.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images