Job Outlook

Pharmacy technicians are highly sought after these days, especially those with accredited training from reputable institutions of higher education.

According to the United States Department of Labor, about 75% of pharmacy technicians work in retail pharmacies, both independently owned or part of a drugstore, grocery store or mass retailer chain. An additional 16% work in hospitals, with a small portion employed by mail-order or Internet pharmacies, clinics, pharmaceutical wholesalers and the Federal Government. But in virtually all of these settings, pharmacy technicians function in clean, organized, well-lighted, and well-ventilated areas. As for schedule, pharmacy technicians often have varying shifts that include nights, weekends, and holidays. In facilities that are open 24 hours a day, such as hospital pharmacies, technicians may be required to work nights. In still other cases, technicians work on a part-time basis, ideal for parents with young children.

A well-trained pharmacy technician is prepared to handle a wide variety of tasks.  For example, techs that work in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals may not have exactly the same responsibilities as is true of retail technicians.  Some techs in the medical care industry are responsible for delivering medicine to the nursing staff and interpreting patient charts. Others are trained to package and record each dose of medication. Still others participate in stocking shelves, taking inventory and dealing with customers. But in virtually all cases, much of a typical pharmacy technician’s workday is spent on his/her feet. And they may be required to lift heavy boxes or to use stepladders to retrieve supplies from high shelves.

Advancement opportunities in small retail establishments generally are limited, but in large pharmacies and health systems, pharmacy technicians with significant training or experience can be promoted to supervisory positions. Some may advance into specialty positions such as chemotherapy technician or nuclear pharmacy technician. Still others may move into sales. And given the formal training of some technicians, going on to become a pharmacist is not out of the question.

Employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to increase between 25% and 31% from 2008 to 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The increased number of middle-aged and elderly people—who use more prescription drugs than younger people—will spur demand for pharmacy workers throughout this period. In addition, as scientific advances lead to new drugs, and as more people obtain prescription drug coverage, pharmacy workers will be needed in growing numbers. Opportunities will abound particularly for those with previous experience, formal training and/or certification.

As cost-conscious insurers begin to use pharmacies as patient-care centers and pharmacists become more involved in patient care, pharmacy technicians will continue to see an expansion of their role in the pharmacy. In addition, they will increasingly adopt some of the administrative duties that were previously performed by pharmacy aides, such as answering phones and stocking shelves.

Percentile wage estimates for Pharmacy Technicians

Percentile 10% 25% 50%
(Median)
75% 90%
Hourly Wage $9.36 $11.07 $13.49 $16.26 $19.31
Annual Wage $19,480 $23,020 $28,070 $33,820 $40,160

 

Certified technicians, of course, may earn more than non-certified technicians. In addition, some technicians belong to unions representing hospital or grocery store workers, which may impact both wages and benefits.

Industries with the highest levels of employment in this occupation

Industry Employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Health and Personal Care Stores 180,170 $13.27 $27,590
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 55,950 $15.73 $32,710
Grocery Stores 22,040 $13.76 $28,610
Other General Merchandise Stores 21,680 $12.65 $26,310
Department Stores 17,280 $12.34 $25,660

Top paying industries for this occupation

Industry Employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) 5,430 $18.77 $39,040
Scientific Research and Development Services 90 $18.69 $38,870
Insurance Carriers 1,010 $18.08 $37,610
Management of Companies and Enterprises 900 $17.53 $36,470
Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals 1,530 $17.06 $35,470

*See pharmacy technicians for the latest information on national, state and local wages.