Pharmacy technicians are the main workers you interact with when you pick up or drop off a prescription at a pharmacy. These technicians work directly with customers to fill orders and maintain inventory. They are not pharmacists, however. In essence, the technicians deal with daily prescription transactions, but do not dispense medical advice. A technician's salary depends on several factors, from location to certification standards.
Average Pay Scale
In 2012, the median annual salary for pharmacy technicians was slightly under $30,000. This average lumps all technicians into one category, regardless of their classes taken or degrees earned. It also does not take location into consideration. A more urban neighborhood could have slightly higher pay scales because of local economics compared to a rural area with a lower cost of living. Because of their limited duties, compared to a pharmacist, technicians do not have a lucrative pay scale. Programs to improve pharmaceutical education can help the pay rise slightly.
For many technicians, they simply have a high school diploma. Essentially, they are hired as apprentices to learn experienced technician's skills. They shadow another worker as they slowly build their skill set. They may help customers independently to gain critical experience. Because they are simply learning at this point, their pay scale may be much lower than the average $30,000. However, the experiences that new technicians receive are priceless. They may also appreciate the flexible pharmacy hours. With weekends and night hours available, new technicians could look into schools to improve their education and career outlook.
Vocational schools offer certificates and degrees in pharmacy technology. You learn about pharmacy management, from inventory control to customer service. These programs are usually completed in one year. However, it may be a better goal to complete a full 2 years to receive an associate's degree. With this education, you can always build toward a 4-year bachelor's degree in the future.
If you are unsure about entering the pharmacy technician field, talk to an experienced worker at your pharmacy. You may be able to shadow them for a day to see the real-life action. If you decide to become a technician, expect your pay to be relatively low in the beginning. As you gain more experience, and go to school, you can earn raises and bonuses. With the pharmaceutical industry growing every year, more pharmacies will need extra employees to serve the public.