Career Choice: Pharmacy Technician

Career Choice: Pharmacy Technician
  • Opening Intro -

    In most states you do not need a college degree to work as a pharmacy technician.

    Pharmacy technicians work under the direction of a pharmacist and may measure, mix and count out medications as prescribed, labeling bottles and ensuring that correct dosages are used.


Those technicians with formal training and certification are more likely to find work than those without the same.


Pharmacy technicians are usually the first person customers see when seeking to fill a prescription. Prescription requests may arrive digitally or by hard copy. Pharmacy technicians set up and maintain patient profiles, listing all medications for individual patients. Technicians file and store prescriptions, mix pharmaceuticals, clean and maintain equipment and work under the direct supervision of a certified pharmacist. Technicians should have excellent people skills, be organized, understand medical terminology and work with numbers.


Although no college background is required to work as a pharmacy technician, this position can provide a career step in the healthcare industry. Beyond the basic requirements of possessing a high school diploma or a GED, pharmacy technicians may benefit from taking health classes. The position might also be ideal for the student working toward a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree.

Optional certification may provide broader career opportunities for technicians. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board offers the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) with passage of same leading to certification.


The average annual salary for a pharmacy technician was $28,900 as of 2011 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Technicians in the 10th percentile earned $20,300 per year to $23,900 annually for those in the 25th percentile. Those in the 75th percentile averaged $35,400 per year with those in the 90th percentile earning $41,900 per year on average.

The highest salaries for pharmacy technicians is in California where the average annual wage is $37,800 per year. Washington follows at $37,700 per year with Alaska coming in at $37,600. At the bottom of the pay spectrum is West Virginia with an average annual wage of $23,600 in 2011. Wages in Alabama were $23,900 per year and were $24,200 annually in Arkansas.

Job Outlook

The healthcare industry will continue to provide significant job opportunities for many years as an aging and expanding population requires assistance. For pharmacy technicians, a 32 percent growth rate from 2010 to 2020 is anticipated according to the BLS. That rate compares to a 14 percent increase for all jobs.

Just over half of all pharmacy technicians work for drug stores and pharmacies. About 18 percent work for hospitals with grocery stores, general merchandise retailers and department stores employing about 19 percent of technicians. Because some stores are open through the night, pharmacy technicians could possibly work various shifts and on weekends.


O*Net OnLine: 29-2052.00 – Pharmacy Technicians

US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Pharmacy Technicians

See AlsoCareer Choice: RN With an MBA


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Categories: Career Planning