A career as a pharmacy technician is a great option because you can be trained, certified, and working in as little as 3 months! No need to spend years in school or tens of thousands on tuition. But what will you really be doing, and, more importantly, what can you expect to earn as a pharmacy technician? Let’s take a look.
Pharmacy technicians work under the guidance and supervision of a pharmacist to supply over-the-counter and prescription drugs to customers. They are responsible for making sure customers get their prescriptions filled properly as well as organizing inventory packages, labeling prescriptions, entering insurance information, and more. While many pharmacy technicians work in retail pharmacies (for example, the pharmacies in grocery stores), others work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, or institutional pharmacies. As in any other field, pharmacy technicians’ salaries will vary depending on where they are employed.
Becoming a Pharmacy Technician
There are several routes to becoming a pharmacy technician. The right one for you will heavily depend on where you live—as some states have pharmacy technician education, certification, and registration requirements—as well as the job market in your area. You may be able to start a pharmacy technician career with just on-the-job training, but employers often give preference to pharmacy technicians who have been through some sort of formal training and it can be difficult to land a job with no training or experience. Enrolling in a short-term training program, like Career Step’s, is a good way to get the education employers look for as well as prepare for the national Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Exam (PTCE)—which may be required by your state. Most training programs can be completed in less than a year, and they may even include an externship to help you gain hands-on experience before graduation..
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for pharmacy technicians, as of May 2013, was $29,650. However, as in other industries, the type of facility you work in plays a big role in determining pay scale. For instance, pharmacy technicians working in health and personal care stores (e.g. Walgreens and Rite Aid) earned $29,220 a y ear on average, while those working in general medical and surgical hospitals earned $35,210 on average. Pay rates vary depending on whether you’re working in a retail or institutional facility, the size of your organization, your geographic location, whether you’re nationally certified, and your experience. Overall, the middle 50% of pharmacy technicians earn between $24,440 a year and $36,270 a year.
As when considering any field, the decision to pursue a pharmacy technician career should take into account many different things—salary, education requirements, whether the career will be a match for your personality and schedule needs, etc. If you’re looking for a career that will prepare you to earn a good living in a growing field with only a few months of training, pharmacy technician is a great choice!