Pharmacy technicians lighten the prescription job load for pharmacists by taking down prescription information from customers or doctors, measuring medications and packaging them, accepting payment, and processing insurance information. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they average $30,840 per year, or $14.83 hourly. (This is a 1.3 percent increase over the previous year's average of $30,430 annually, or $14.63 per hour.) The lowest-paid 10 percent make less than an annual $20,460, while the highest earners receive over $43,230 per year. Most techs have full-time positions, but since some pharmacies are open 24 hours a day, part-time opportunities are available for those willing to work nights and weekends.
Over half of pharmacy technicians work in health and personal care stores to average $29,220 per year. Another 16 percent find jobs in general medical and surgical hospitals to earn an annual $35,210. Rounding out employment are general merchandise stores, groceries, and ambulatory health care services. The highest pay is with the federal government, averaging $40,890 per year. Second highest salaries are found at outpatient care centers where pharmacy techs average $39,050 yearly.
The state boasting the most jobs for the profession also has the highest population. California has almost 9 percent of the pharmacy technician jobs and an average wage of $39,570 per year. Texas ranks second for population and opportunities with 8 percent of the total jobs paying an annual $31,850. As for salaries, the District of Columbia has the highest at an average $42,910 per year. This is followed by Washington with a yearly average of $39.
Among cities, Chicago contains the most jobs, at 3 percent of the total, with $28,490 per year. In the second spot, is New York City, just below 3 percent, averages $34,210 annually. However, the highest wages are found in Oakland with an annual $49,950. San Francisco is next, averaging $45,790 per year.
The BLS sees jobs for pharmacy technicians increasing by 20 percent from 2012 to 2022. While this is slightly less than the 24 percent growth expected for all health technologists and technicians, it is almost double the 11 percent projected for all occupations in all industries. Salaries should also see a corresponding rise, if workplaces want to keep up with the demand.
The reason for the increase is the aging of the U.S. population, particularly baby boomers. Older adults require more medicines and thus there is a higher demand for pharmacies. In addition, federal health care reform makes insurance more accessible, allowing more people access to prescription drugs. Finally, advances in pharmaceutical research means more diseases and health conditions can be treated through the use of prescription drugs.