When you’re considering pursuing a healthcare career, you’ll certainly weigh one important factor: salary. Pharmacy technicians earn a median $35,100 annually in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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A pharmacy technician salary depends on many variables. By taking steps to advance your career, you can also increase your earning potential and competitiveness for in-demand jobs.
What Factors Can Affect My Salary?
Many factors influence a pharmacy technician’s salary. “Certainly, more education and experience translate to higher pay,” explains Glen Gard, CPhT, CSPT, director of sterile compounding compliance at the infusion services company Option Care Health. Those are just two variables.
As you consider becoming a pharmacy technician, weigh these factors that impact pay:
Median Salary: $35,100
Top 10%: $50,430
Projected job growth: 4%
|State||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|District of Columbia||$45,790||$32,770||$62,420|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.
Where You Work
“There are so many settings and paths for pharmacy technicians to pursue,” Gard says. Settings vary in the number of pharmacy technicians they employ.
Pharmacies and drug stores account for more than half the employment (51%) of pharmacy technicians, according to the BLS. Hospitals employ 17%, and pharmacies in retail grocery stores employ 9%.
Your place of employment can influence your income, too.
|Type of Workplace||Average Salary|
|Outpatient care centers||$49,690|
|Federal government settings||$47,690|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools||$43,990|
|Medical and diagnostic laboratories||$43,960|
|E-commerce and mail-order settings||$38,120|
|Retail: Health and personal care stores||$34,420|
|Retail: Grocery stores||$33,000|
Roles and the specific pharmacy technician job descriptions within these settings also affect salary. As a general rule, the more specialized the position, the higher the pay, Gard says.
In addition, staff that belong to a union usually earn more.
As you consider a career in this field, you’ll want to know where pharmacy technicians are in highest demand. These states have the biggest market for pharmacy techs, according to the BLS:
On the other hand, some areas see lower demand for pharmacy technicians. These states have the smallest market for the field:
Some people can get started with a pharmacy technician career with nothing more than a high school diploma or GED. That track is becoming less common, though. “There’s a growing expectation in the field that requires some component of additional education,” Gard says.
Training as a pharmacy technician can follow three educational paths: a diploma or certificate, an associate degree, or on-the-job training provided by an employer.
When you consider which route is best for you, know that “more education will increase your salary,” Gard says.
In general, more education means better pay.
Education beyond a high school diploma or GED also makes you more competitive for jobs. It is becoming more common for employers to require postsecondary education or training.
Certifications are mandatory in some, but not all, states in the U.S. You will need to research what is required where you live.
Certifications will help your career just about everywhere you work, though, explains Gard. “About half of states now require national certification—such as CPhT—and more states are beginning to require it,” he says. “Certification shows you have gone through a training program or on-the-job training, and that you understand the basics needed to be a pharmacy technician.”
Earning a certification does more than expand your options of where you can work; it can also boost your pay.
Options for certifications include:
Specialty certifications are designed to show advanced and specialized knowledge within a field. As you gain experience, you might consider these specialty certifications:
Pharmacy Tech Salaries Compared to Other Allied Health Salaries
If you are researching how to become a pharmacy technician, you likely have a passion for helping people. Many other careers within healthcare fulfill that drive, too.
It is important to know the difference between a pharmacy technician and a pharmacist—often a source of confusion. While they work together closely, these roles are separated by crucial differences.
Pharmacists oversee a pharmacy technician’s work, ensuring orders and dispensed medications are correct. While pharmacy techs often have direct contact with patients (when taking information or payment for prescriptions, for example), pharmacists answer patients’ questions and advise them on how to safely and effectively take medications.
When exploring the many career options ahead of you, you will want to consider what you can earn in each job. Take a look at how pharmacy technicians’ pay compares to the median annual salaries of other healthcare jobs.
How Can I Increase My Pay?
You already know that experience, additional education, and certifications can raise your income as a pharmacy technician. Specializing is one of the best ways to boost your salary, Gard says.
“Specialized roles tend to make more than an average technician,” he adds.
His advice: “As you go through the process of becoming a new pharmacy technician, and as you gain experience, figure out your niche.” You may want to concentrate on becoming a purchaser, a medical reconciliation technician, a patient service representative, or a worker at an accreditation agency.
The job outlook for pharmacy technicians is strong, Gard says. The BLS foresees job growth of 4% through 2030—slower than the average of all positions within the U.S.
As the population in the U.S. ages, people will likely need more care—including medications, Gard says. Chronic diseases requiring ongoing medications are also becoming more common, leading to an increasing demand for pharmacy technicians.
The bottom line: Pharmacy technicians are, and will continue to be, integral to ensuring patients get the best care they need.