Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane "pill-flipping" life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.
According to Salary.com, pharmacy technicians make anywhere from $26,000 to $39,000 a year, though most make around $32,000 annually. California has the highest average pharmacy technician wage, at $34,317, according to Open Farm Tech’s website.
A pharmacy technician’s salary depends on a number of factors, however, including experience, place of employment (company or geographic location), specific job duties, health care setting, and educational background.
Those working in a geographic location with a lower cost of living can expect a lower salary. Large metropolitan areas tend to pay the highest wages across all industries, and pharmacy technicians are no exception.
When evaluating a job offer in a new town or city, check out how much things cost, such as rent, utilities, and groceries. This information will better prepare you to make an informed decision about your salary offer.
Health care setting
The health care setting in which a pharmacy technician works can greatly influence his or her compensation.
For example, Open Farm Tech lists the average pharmacy technician salary for a retail pharmacy or drug store at $26,921. It also states that pharmacy technicians working in an acute care hospital earn an average salary of $37,000 per year, while those working for the military or a pharmaceutical company earn an average salary of $38,000 per year.
This represents a difference of more than $10,000, simply due to the health care setting.
Certification and education
Pharmacy technician certifications may have some impact on salary, but will probably only result in an increase of a couple thousand dollars annually.
That said, nationally certified candidates typically have an advantage when competing for jobs and are more likely to land a position in a higher-paying, less-stressful health care setting.
Education can play a big role in deciding a pharmacy tech’s starting salary. Employers tend to value formal pharmacy technician training, as they believe it makes for a well-rounded employee. Technicians who have graduated from a training program may make significantly more than their counterparts who have not had formal instruction.
Just like most other industries, pharmacy tech job candidates are placed on salary “tiers” based on how many years of experience they have in the field.
So, a technician who is fresh out of school or hired with no formal training will not earn as much as a tech who has been on the job for 10 years.
Experience can also affect a technician’s ability to land a job in a highly coveted health care setting.
Raises can be hard to come by. Whether or not a pharmacy technician receives a raise depends almost exclusively on the financial health of the organization and how its pay scale is set up.
For instance, pharmacy technicians at hospitals are typically paid a higher starting salary, but they may be required to work many more years before jumping up to the next pay grade. Conversely, retail pharmacy techs typically have a lower starting salary, but they are able to climb the pay scale more quickly.
Pharmacy technicians may also receive a raise after completing formal training, passing a certification exam, working a shift that no one wants, or, in rare cases, assuming additional job responsibilities.
Shift differentials, per diem compensation, union participation, travel and mileage reimbursement (if applicable), salary in lieu of benefits, and the availability of overtime can have a significant impact on a pharmacy technician’s salary. Be sure to take all of the company’s offerings into consideration when evaluating the compensation package.
Hopefully, this guide has provided information that will help you evaluate your salary and determine your next steps.