Job Outlook for Pharmacy Technicians

If you're looking for a career that's in high demand, earning your pharmacy technician certification is a smart move. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by about 30 percent by 2018. This means that experienced pharmacy technicians will have plenty of job opportunities regardless of where they choose to live.

One of the main reasons that the job outlook for pharmacy technicians is so promising is that new prescription medications are being developed every day. Illnesses that were once fatal are now managed through complex drug regimens, thus increasing the need for pharmacy professionals. People are also becoming more comfortable with the idea of taking medication for depression and other mental health conditions.

The aging population contributes to the need for pharmacy technicians. As people age, they tend to require more prescriptions. Although most pharmacy technicians are employed in retail pharmacies, there are a growing number of positions available in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

In some cases, cost-cutting measures have led to an increase in the demand for pharmacy technicians. Instead of hiring additional licensed pharmacists earning $100,000 or more per year, companies hire extra pharmacy technicians to cope with an increased demand for their services. Although pharmacy technicians must be supervised by licensed pharmacists, they are capable of performing many of the duties required to run a pharmacy.

Employment Change

Job Outlook for Pharmacy Technicians

One of the biggest concerns for people choosing a profession is whether jobs will continue to be available. While positions in areas such as construction and newspaper publishing have been on the decline for quite some time, jobs in the health care field continue to grow, due to a rapidly aging population and the ability to provide treatment for an increasing number of illnesses. This has led to an abundance of job opportunities for people who have earned pharmacy technician certification.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 31 percent by 2018. The labor market is expected to remain strong throughout the United States, although you will expect to see slightly more job opportunities in places with a higher percentage of elderly residents. While the majority of pharmacy technicians still work in retail pharmacies, many are now finding employment in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Job Prospects for Pharmacy Aides

If you're trying to decide whether to pursue pharmacy technician certification or to obtain employment as a pharmacy aide, you may want to consider that the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for pharmacy aides to decrease by six percent by 2018. Pharmacy aides, unlike pharmacy technicians, receive their training on the job and do not need to obtain certification. This means that they are not allowed to prepare prescriptions. The role of the pharmacy aide is to perform administrative or clerical tasks, such as answering phones and taking inventory. To help keep costs down, many companies are choosing to simply have certified pharmacy technicians perform these job duties.

Government Projections

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics regularly analyzes employment data to determine which fields are in high demand and which job types seem to be on the decline. Jobs in the health care industry are expected to grow due to an aging population and technological advancements in the level of medical care that can be provided for certain illnesses. Because of the nature of the work, these jobs are also less likely to be affected by the overall business trend towards outsourcing labor to foreign countries.

The demand for pharmacy technicians should increase by approximately 30 percent by 2018. The demand for pharmacy aides, however, is expected to decrease by six percent. Since pharmacy aides do not need to be certified and are unable to prepare medications, they are being replaced by certified pharmacy technicians in many hospital and retail pharmacies.

Other Sources of Employment Information

While official government data give you a good starting point for determining the value of earning your pharmacy technician certification, you may want to contact an advisor for the training program you are considering to learn more about their success in helping graduates find employment.

Questions to ask include:

  • How many people are employed six months after graduation?
  • How many are actually working as pharmacy technicians?
  • Are they working in retail pharmacies, hospitals, mail-order pharmacies, clinics, nursing homes, or assisted-living facilities?
  • Have they found employment in your area or have they chosen to seek jobs elsewhere?
  • What is their starting wage?
  • Are they employed part time or full time?

Wages

Considering the level of training that is required, pharmacy technicians earn a relatively high salary. After earning a pharmacy technician certification, you can expect to earn between $9 and $11 per hour at your first job. Pharmacy technicians with job experience can earn $15 or more per hour. The average income of a pharmacy technician in the United States is $28,000 per year, but this number is somewhat skewed by the fact that many pharmacy technicians opt to work part time.

Of course, there are significant regional variations in the wages for pharmacy technicians. Jobs that are located in places with a high cost of living tend to pay more simply because the higher salary is needed to attract qualified workers. For example, pharmacy technicians in New York or California can expect to earn more than those in Iowa or Minnesota.

Union Representation and Wages

Pharmacy technicians who are employed by retail stores or hospitals are sometimes represented by labor unions. This tends to have a positive effect on the wages they receive for their work. Unfortunately, it is also typically harder to find employment within a unionized workplace because these types of companies experience a lower employee turnover.

Wages vs. Benefits

Many people make the mistake of looking at wages alone when they are evaluating potential job offers. However, the benefits that are offered by a company can significantly increase the value of your compensation. A company that offers generous health insurance, retirement plans, and tuition reimbursement may pay its pharmacy technicians slightly less to offset the costs incurred to provide these "perks."

Variations in Wages by Area

After you earn your pharmacy technician certification, you will want to carefully consider potential job opportunities. Although pharmacy technician positions have a relatively high salary for the level of education that is required, there are significant variations in wages by area due to the differing costs of living across the United States.

Pharmacy technicians typically earn between $9 and $15 per hour. As expected, the highest wages can be found in the states with the highest cost of living. These are:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Alaska
  3. California
  4. Connecticut
  5. New Jersey
  6. New York
  7. Maryland
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Vermont
  10. Massachusetts

On the opposite end, states with a lower cost of cost of living generally pay lower wages because people need less money to be able to afford housing, food, and other daily necessities. The 10 states with the lowest cost of living are:

  1. Kentucky
  2. Tennessee
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Arkansas
  5. Texas
  6. Nebraska
  7. Kansas
  8. Missouri
  9. Georgia
  10. Mississippi

Beyond Wages

While wages are certainly an important factor in any job offer, it's important to consider the value of benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and tuition reimbursement. These benefits can drastically increase the overall value of your compensation, especially if you have a medical condition that would make it hard for you to obtain a private health insurance policy.

If you have small children at home or other personal responsibilities that affect your schedule, you may also want to consider how flexible your employer is regarding working hours. Many pharmacies allow for part-time employment, but working nights, weekends, and/or holidays may be required.

Value of Professional Associations

Value of Professional Associations

Belonging to a professional association can be a great way to advance your career, especially if you've only recently earned your pharmacy technician certification. Professional associations provide education, networking opportunities, and job leads for pharmacy technicians across the United States.

Some of the professional associations available to pharmacy technicians include:

Membership benefits vary with the type of organization you join, but may include:

  • Free subscriptions to professional newsletters
  • A chance to participate in advocacy efforts regarding laws that affect a pharmacy technician's work
  • Reduced tuition for continuing education classes needed to renew your pharmacy technician certification
  • Discounts on various professional services

Many professional associations offer contests or the opportunity to serve on various committees. If you don't have a lot of work experience as a pharmacy technician, this can help you add to your resume.

Eligibility

Professional associations typically have strict membership criteria. You must generally either be a working pharmacy technician or a student in a program leading up to pharmacy technician certification. You will need to provide contact information for your employer or education program, so your credentials can be verified.

Fees

Professional associations charge membership fees in order to offset the costs of their activities. In most cases, dues for professional memberships are tax deductible. Some associations have different levels of membership plans that are available or offer discounts for multiyear memberships.

Last Updated: 05/12/2014