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What is a Pharmacy Technician?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), the U.S. Department of Labor’s principal fact- finding agency for the federal government in the field of labor, economics, and statistics that provides data on employment and wages, Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals. They mainly work in retail pharmacies and hospitals.
Pharmacy technicians typically do the following:
- Collect information needed to fill a prescription from customers or health professionals
- Measure amounts of medication for prescriptions
- Package and label prescriptions
- Organize inventory and alert pharmacists to any shortages of medications or supplies
- Accept payment for prescriptions and process insurance claims
- Enter customer or patient information, including any prescriptions taken, into a computer system
- Answer phone calls from customers
- Arrange for customers to speak with pharmacists if customers have questions about medications or health matters
Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists, who must review prescriptions before they are given to patients. In most states, technicians can compound or mix some medications and call physicians for prescription refill authorizations. Technicians also may need to operate automated dispensing equipment when filling prescription orders.
Pharmacy technicians working in hospitals and other medical facilities prepare a greater variety of medications, such as intravenous medications. They may make rounds in the hospital, giving medications to patients.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Pharmacy Technicians,
How much does a Pharmacy Technician get paid?*
According to JobsEQ, a labor market data provider developed by economists and data scientists, pharmacy technicians made an annual average salary of $35,300 in 2019.
The top 25% of earners made an annual average salary of $40,400 and the bottom 25% of pharmacy technicians earned $35,300 in 2019. Those who started out as an entry-level pharmacy technician in 2019 made $25,000 on average.
These numbers may vary based on geography and labor market.
|Entry Level||Mean||Bottom 25%||Top 25%|
*Source: JobsEQ®. Wage data are as of 2019 and represent the average for all Covered Employment
Best-paying states for Pharmacy Technician**
According to BLS, the highest annual median salaries for pharmacy technicians are in Washington state ($43,860), Alaska ($43,680), California ($43,280), Oregon ($42,580), and Washington D.C. ($41,200).
**Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”). Data as of May 2019
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Pharmacy Technician job outlook***
According to JobsEQ, the pharmacy technician field will grow at an above-average annual pace, beginning in 2021. That means you’re likely to see new job openings in the future, offering confidence if you choose to embark on this career path.
In the first quarter of 2020, 412,206 people in the U.S. made their living as a pharmacy technician. Current projections estimate that number will rise to 426,501 people in 2025, with 44,875 new openings over that 5-year period.
***Source: JobsEQ, Data as of 2020Q1, The shaded areas of the graph represent national recessions.
Pharmacy Technician job skills and knowledge
According to O*NET Resource Center, people in this career often have these skills:
- Active Listening – Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
- Reading Comprehension – Reading work-related information.
- Speaking – Talking to others.
- Customer and Personal Service – Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- English Language – Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Medicine and Dentistry – Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
- Mathematics – Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Source: O*NET Resource Center