While requirements vary widely by state, most technicians are required to sit for an exam that will measure level of knowledge, as well as have a minimum number of pharmacy related work hours under their belt before they can be certified.
Pharmacy technician pay is greatly effected by level of training and certification status, industry, and years of on-the-job experience.
TrainingThere are two generally accepted ways to become a Pharmacy Technician -- on-the-job training and post-secondary coursework. Both paths have their benefits and drawbacks, so it is important to decide which path is right for you.
Check with your state's Board of Pharmacy to learn what steps are required to become a Pharmacy Technician. Some states do require post-secondary training while others require just an exam. Many states do require continuing education classes, whether you have earned a degree or not. While certification may seem like a waste of time for those working in states without a requirement, it can have a direct effect on your pay.
Technicians who are certified are more marketable, and the certification attests to their skills and knowledge.
IndustryIndustry is another variable when it comes to pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians working in ambulatory health care and hospitals make at least $6,000 more per year than their lowest paid counterpart -- that is, those technicians who work in general merchandise stores.
An obvious reason for this difference in pay are work hours. Technicians working in hospitals may be required to work 3rd shift, while most general merchandise stores are open for 1st and 2nd shifts only.
ExperienceFor technicians with many years of experience, they may be promoted to a supervisory position. While pharmacists play a large role in the running of a pharmacy, they do have other duties and require an extra hand to ensure the pharmacy is running smoothly. Pharmacy technician supervisors are technicians with knowledge, experience, and leadership skills. Their level of responsibility is usually reflected in their pay.
Training, industry, and experience -- these three things have the biggest impact on the pay rate of a pharmacy technician. If you are interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, contact your state's Board of Pharmacy to learn more about the necessary steps to take in your state.