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How Much Does a Pharmacy Tech Make?

How much does a pharmacy tech make

A pharmacy technician is a member of the pharmacy’s support staff. These staff members also include pharmacy assistants and pharmacy aides. A pharmacy technician’s primary responsibility is to assist a licensed pharmacist (or an R. Registered Pharmacist) with routine daily tasks. Many people may wonder how much does a pharmacy tech make - they may be surprised. 

A pharmacy technician is responsible for many pharmacy duties. Read on to explore the significant features of a pharmacy technician’s job and learn how much a pharmacy technician can potentially make each year.

 

What is a Pharmacy Technician?

In assisting licensed pharmacists, a pharmacy technician’s exact responsibilities will vary and depend on the type of facility in which they work, and the pharmacist’s given instructions.  A pharmacy technician is generally employed in one of two healthcare-based settings:

Retail Setting: Stand-alone pharmacy or a pharmacy in a grocery store or larger retail operation. A pharmacy technician working in the retail sector is generally responsible for the following tasks:

  • Managing the receipt of prescriptions, by phone or in the store. 
  • Communicating with insurance companies and other doctors regarding medication refills. 
  • Inputting prescriptions into the pharmacy’s computer system. 
  • Managing the cash register. 
  • Dispensing meds as instructed by the pharmacist.
  • Managing store inventory levels.  
  • Applying medication labels 

Nursing Home or Hospital: A pharmacy technician working in hospitals or nursing homes is generally responsible for the following tasks:

  • Dispensing medication packages for nurses to administer to patients.
  • Dispensing meds to patients.
  • Being familiar with patient charts. 

To be successful, a pharmacy technician should possess the following skills and talents:

  • Being an organized worker.
  • Being open to working with flexible scheduling requirements (some pharmacies are open 24 hours each day).
  • The ability to lift at least 50 lbs. 
  • The ability to lift items above their head
  • Excellent communication skills. This includes the ability to retain details and convey this information with clarity and efficiency. It also includes active listening proficiencies.

Education Requirements

Pharmacy technicians have the option to begin their careers with only a high school diploma (or equivalent), at least for the time being. Pharmacy technicians following this path will learn their craft through comprehensive on-the-job training. However, many other pharmacy technicians choose to complete a pharmacy technician program through an online accredited program, a professional school, or even a local college. 

Each state is responsible for defining the requirements of the pharmacy technician working within that state’s borders. The State’s Board of Pharmacy is tasked with this responsibility. Therefore, it is critical that pharmacy technician candidates understand the exact requirements in the state in which they work. 

It is noted that there is an industry trend as pharmacy employers begin to prefer a credentialed candidate for a pharmacy technician job. The path to a pharmacy technician job, for those without a completed training course and/or a Certified Pharmacy Technician Credential, will likely be phased out sometime in the near future.  

Pharmacy Technician Certifications

Most industries have oversight and certification agencies in place to ensure the industry provides quality/experienced professionals to those in need of its services. The pharmacy sector is only one thin slice of the healthcare sector, however, it too, has several professional certifications maintaining the industry’s reputation and quality. 

The Certified Pharmacy Technician Credential (CPhT)

The Certified Pharmacy Technician Credential (CPhT) is considered the most select of pharmacy technician certifications. This certification is offered through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The CPhT requires the following of each certification candidate:

  • To hold a high school diploma or equivalent.  
  • To provide complete disclosure of criminal actions or PTCB regulatory action.
  • To comply with PTCB procedures and requirements. 
  • To successfully pass the Pharmacy Technician Exam (PTCE)
    • The PTCE is offered through proctored professional testing centers throughout the country, and on military base testing sites. 
    • To take the test, you must first create a PTCB account and pay the $129 fee.
    • The PTCE takes two hours to complete. The test consists of 90 questions (of which 10 are not scored). Official scores are released about 3 weeks after you take the exam. 
    • The PTCE exam-taker will be given the authorization to take the test over a maximum of 90 days. You can schedule your exam time online.
  • When certified, a pharmacy technician must update the PTCB with any complaints or convictions that occur between certification cycles. 
  • Each CPhT credential holder must complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education every two years in order to remain eligible for recertification. 

Disqualification of a candidate may occur due to:

  • Evidence of criminal activity of a candidate.
  • A violation of the PTCB’s Code of Conduct or any other of its policies. 
  • Previous action against the candidate by the relevant State Board of Pharmacy. 

Test-takers are advised to carve out sufficient time in their schedules to prepare for the PTCE by accessing:

In 2020…

In January 2020, pharmacy technicians vying for their CPhT certification will have to meet modified requirements.  A CPhT candidate will need to meet either of the following requirements.

  • A pharmacy tech-training program that has been recognized by the PTCB. Or,
  • A documented work history as a pharmacy technician  - this requires a minimum of 500 hours of experience. 

For additional information regarding the PTCB’s CPhT certification policy changes, refer to the 2020 Knowledge Reference document

The Advanced CPhT (CPHT-ADV)

In the near future, the PTCB is planning to roll out an Advanced Certification of Pharmacy Technicians program – the CPhT - Adv. A pharmacy technician who wants to earn a CPhT-Adv credential must pass several pharmacy assessment programs.  The programs are detailed below.

Pharmacy technicians are eligible to earn their CPhT-Adv credential when they have earned their CPhT credential, have clocked  3 years of experience, and have passed four of the following five certificate programs:

  • Technician Product Verification. 
  • Medication History and Medication Reconciliation.
  • Controlled Substance Diversion Prevention.
  • Billing and Reimbursement.
  • Hazardous Drug Management.

The National Healthcareer Association 

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers another pharmacy technician credential known as the CCMA – the Certified Medical Assistant.  The NHA offers a digital questionnaire to determine if you meet the certification’s requirements.

The CCMA examination is a three-hour computer test that consists of 30 pretest questions plus, another 150 questions that are evaluated to generate a final score. The entire exam must be completed in one session. 

If you determine that you are eligible, you should –

  • Set up an NHA Account.
  • Apply for the CCMA exam. 
  • Prepare for the CCMA exam. 

A CCMA exam-taker will be notified within two weeks of the testing date.

How much does a pharmacy tech make - pharmacy tech salary statistics & job outlook

Pharmacy Tech salary - national statistics

The federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monitors salaries of countless occupations year over year. For the calendar year of 2018, the BLS noted that the median salary for a pharmacy technician was $32,700. 

National Averages Hourly Rate Annual Salary
Median Salary  $15.72  $32,700
90th Percentile  $21.97  $45,702

 Source: BLS

 HOW MUCH DO Pharmacy technicians MAKE BY LOCATION/STATE

Pharmacy technicians salaries vary by state. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state of Alaska offers the highes average (mean) yearly wage for pharmacy technicians. Check out each state's employment, hourly and annual wages in the table below. 

Location Employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Alabama 7,140 $14.44 $30,040
Alaska 570 $20.74 $43,150
Arizona 9,310 $16.87 $35,090
Arkansas 4,490 $14.25 $29,640
California 37,630 $20.48 $42,610
Colorado 5,610 $17.73 $36,880
Connecticut 4,120 $16.60 $34,530
Delaware 1,460 $16.57 $34,470
District of Columbia 840 $19.22 $39,980
Florida 30,080 $15.43 $32,090
Georgia 12,450 $14.54 $30,240
Guam 120 $13.57 $28,230
Hawaii 1,780 $18.61 $38,720
Idaho 1,960 $17.27 $35,920
Illinois 21,490 $15.93 $33,140
Indiana 9,360 $14.98 $31,160
Iowa 4,130 $15.66 $32,560
Kansas 3,780 $15.84 $32,940
Kentucky 8,470 $14.07 $29,270
Louisiana 6,130 $15.72 $32,700
Maine 2,180 $15.24 $31,690
Maryland 7,660 $16.29 $33,880
Massachusetts 8,910 $17.84 $37,110
Michigan 15,580 $15.70 $32,660
Minnesota 8,370 $18.11 $37,670
Mississippi 3,430 $15.12 $31,440
Missouri 9,850 $15.43 $32,090
Montana 1,140 $16.72 $34,780
Nebraska 2,600 $16.00 $33,270
Nevada 3,960 $18.09 $37,620
New Hampshire 1,730 $15.56 $32,370
New Jersey 9,570 $15.90 $33,070
New Mexico 2,360 $16.21 $33,710
New York 19,320 $16.66 $34,640
North Carolina 13,680 $14.85 $30,890
North Dakota 830 $19.12 $39,770
Ohio 16,190 $14.66 $30,500
Oklahoma 4,800 $14.81 $30,790
Oregon 5,020 $19.67 $40,920
Pennsylvania 18,220 $14.42 $30,000
Puerto Rico 4,980 $10.52 $21,880
Rhode Island 1,800 $17.99 $37,410
South Carolina 7,500 $15.16 $31,530
South Dakota 1,350 $15.73 $32,720
Tennessee 10,860 $15.86 $32,980
Texas 37,200 $16.48 $34,290
Utah 4,020 $17.88 $37,190
Vermont 660 $16.38 $34,070
Virgin Islands 60 $15.84 $32,950
Virginia 9,690 $15.56 $32,370
Washington 6,950 $20.42 $42,470
West Virginia 2,980 $13.78 $28,650
Wisconsin 8,050 $15.75 $32,750
Wyoming 590 $18.01 $37,460

Source: BLS

As noted above, pharmacy technicians have the option as to whether they want to work in a retail location – like a drug store, or within a non-retail medical facility.  A pharmacy technician’s salary will vary based on the Pharmacy technician’s:

  • Education. Do they hold a degree or certificate?
  • Experience. 
  • Location. 
  • Retail, or within a healthcare facility.

Some of the Best Locations to Work as a Pharmacy Technician

As one would expect, the states in the country with the largest populations employ the most pharmacy technicians per state. In fact, those states with the largest population/state are also the states in which pharmacy technicians are in higher demand. These states include:

  • New York
  • Texas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Illinois

If you apply the same logic to states with the smallest populations, the logic holds true. States like Alaska (with a small population) would employ the fewest pharmacy technicians per state than most others. 

Job Outlook 

In addition to providing occupational statistics for the many industries that make up the U.S. economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also calculates, through statistical analyses, an occupation’s decade long projected outlook. 

In 2018, the BLS noted that the employment outlook for the pharmacy technician job marketplace was anticipated to be 12% through the year 2026 (the initial projection was run in 2016). This is quite a remarkable growth prediction when you consider that the national average of anticipated job growth for the United States is nearly half the pace – at 7%. 

Additionally, the BLS notes that in anticipation of this impressive growth, there will likely be another 47,500+ pharmacy technician jobs added to the marketplace.