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Salary Expectations for a Pharmacy Technician

Updated on June 18, 2013

A pharmacy Technician Salary depends on several factors such as education level, experience, and location. The locations range from drugstores, to big box stores, to hospitals. Entry level education is very low, but so is the income in relation to the education. If you wish to become a Pharmacy Technician and earn a better income you may wish to examine the routes available to increase your value to employers.

What does a Pharmacy Technician do?

A Pharm Tech takes information from a customer or the health provider in order to fill a prescription. She may then compound or mix medications under the supervision of a Pharmacist. In many cases she will also package and label the medication which will then be checked over by the pharmacist to assure accuracy of medication type, dosage, and administrative instructions. Other duties will include answering phones, organizing and counting inventory, and cashiering. If a customer has a health or medication question, she will get the pharmacist to answer the questions because she is not qualified to do so.

Education requirements

In many states there are no educational requirements to perform the basic duties of a pharmacy technician, but some states do have more advanced requirements. Check your state’s licensing and certification rules regarding pharmacy technicians. But, even for states with no advanced education requirements, you will still need at least a high school diploma or GED. Once you are hired, you will receive on the job training. In some cases, if an employer wants a certificate they will actually pay for the exam for you.

In the states that require a more advanced education it is still not out of reach for most individuals to complete the program and become properly licensed or certified. If you elect to go to a vocational program or community college, you can usually expect to complete the program within a year. The classes will usually include:

  • Math, possibly some algebra
  • Record keeping
  • Methods for dispensing medications
  • Pharmacy law and ethics
  • Names, terms, uses for different meds, dosages and treatments.

Some programs include an internship or externship program to provide you will on the job experience that will help you with your job hunt after graduating. After you complete your program you will need to take and pass an exam in order to be licensed or certified if your state requires it.

Your future as Pharmacy Technician

Once you have completed your studies you will begin looking for a job that suits your abilities and your personal income requirements. Your income will be closely related to your education, skills acquired, and location for work, whether a hospital, grocery store or drug store, or big box store. The more advanced your abilities the more likely you will find work in more advance locations that need your skills. As the location becomes more professional the responsibilities will increase, so too will the income. For example, if you work in a hospital you will very likely set up IVs and perform rounds to dispense medication to patients.

Most Pharmacy technicians work full time hours but some to work part time. Many pharmacies and hospitals need staff on hand 24 hours, so you may work overnight hours and weekends. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) your pharmacy Technician Salary will increase in accordance with your education and location of employment, although the average income as of 2011 is $30,020 or $14.00 an hour:

  • If you seek work in a general merchandise store or big box store your responsibilities will be minimal therefore your income will be on the lower end at $28,080.
  • If you seek work at a health and personal care store your responsibilities will be more involved, therefore your income will be at the mid-range of $28,580.
  • If you are fortunate to be able to seek a job in a hospital your income will be considerably higher at $33,850 due to increased responsibilities.

You should know that in order to get your license or certificate you will need to pass a program, exam, criminal background check, pay fees for the license, and you will need to continue your education as technologies changed and new medicinal treatments come into practice.

Best personal traits for a Pharmacy Technician

The right person for a job as a Pharmacy Tech will be one who has great attention for detail, excellent communication skills and a desire to help others. Attention to detail is very, very important because the smallest error could cause potential harm to a patient who takes the wrong medication or the wrong dose. The main mantra in providing medication is, “Right person, right medication, right time, right dose.” If a person follows this simple mantra as she processes medications, there should never be a mistake or danger to a patient.

You will need to communicate well with customers who have important questions and concerns regarding their medication. For some, the costs are exorbitant and they will voice this displeasure. You will be the first person to feel the brunt of this. You will need to handle their concerns and know when something is perhaps “above your pay grade” and refer them to the lead pharmacist. You may need to call the doctor’s office to ask questions about the prescription so professionalism in communication is paramount.

When a patient is given a prescription for what ails them they will bring that prescription to you right away. They may have worries and fears that they will express to you. You will need to be the type of person who understands their concerns and will have a true desire to help them and allay their fears as best you can. This is not the type of job for a person who likes to work alone and not talk to others. This is an active job that will require you to be on your feet for long periods of time as well. If you have back, leg, or feet problems you should address them before seeking this type of job.

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    • TheYoungDad profile image

      Retired Pharmacy Tech 4 years ago from Canada

      Whoa whoa whoa I don't know exactly where in Canada you are, but either you're delusional, or have been very,very lucky. I've been a Pharmacy Tech for 5 years on and off, and if it wasn't for my awesome negotiating skills I'd still be stuck making $11 an hour in Toronto.

      Also, either you're making $20+ per hour, are working in a hospital making more, or simply suffering from the "new grad high", but pharmacy tech is NOT a great career. In fact, it's a dead end career and anyone failing to see that fundamental truth is blind.

    • DubstepMaker profile image

      Paul Jenkins 4 years ago from Earth

      Pharmacy technicians in canada make a really decent wage. I highly recommend that anyone who is considering this career in canada, should seriously consider this is a great career!

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      This is very useful information for those seeking a career in this field. You were very thorough.Voted up and useful.