Do Pharmacy Technicians Get Pay Raises?
By Nichole Barnes, BHI, CPh
Are you just starting as a pharmacy technician or looking at a pharmacy technician career path? Maybe you are wondering if this career will cover your cost of living or if you will ever get a pay raise. The simple answer is yes; pharmacy technicians do get pay raises. However, the amount and frequency are subject to where you work, what setting you work in, along with some other caveats.
Pharmacy Technician Pay
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics1, the 2020 median pay for pharmacy technicians was $16.87 per hour ("Pharmacy Technicians: Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics" 2019). Looking at the pay variances, individuals working in a hospital are likely to receive higher compensation than retail employees. It could be argued that that depends on where in the country you are working. For instance, on the East Coast of North Carolina, one would typically make more money working for a retail chain such as Walgreens or CVS. However, if someone wanted to work in a more metropolitan area at a larger hospital, they would typically pay more due to the location and size of the hospital. The Occupational Outlook Handbook noted that the lowest 10% of technicians earned roughly $25,400 per year, while the highest 10% earned more than $50,430 per year.
Similar to the discussion on base pay differences depending on the setting, pay raises will also depend on the setting, advancement opportunities, and the area's economy. Typically, retail pharmacy pay raises will be a set amount each year (e.g., $0.75 per year). In contrast, many hospital pharmacies use percentages to determine a pay increase. For example, a 2% pay raise yearly for eligible employees. Many facilities use a person's yearly evaluation to determine eligibility for pay raises regardless of the setting.
Pharmacy technicians can also receive a pay raise when they advance their role. For instance, if you have a Medication Verification, aka tech-check-tech, certification, you could apply for a more advanced position. Many retail facilities will hire pharmacy technicians who are not nationally certified and then offer pay incentives to become CPhT certified. Some advanced certifications include Chemotherapy, Medication Verification, Drug Diversion, Pharmacy Informatics, and Billing and Reimbursement.
In a recent survey conducted by the National Pharmacy Technician Association, 62.6% of pharmacy technicians said they had received a raise within the last six months. This could, however, be related to the additional workload and stress of working through a pandemic. The survey results also noted that 61.3% of pharm techs expected to receive a pay raise within 12 months. With or without a pandemic, pharmacy technicians are vital to patient care.
There are also several a-typical careers that pharmacy technicians can have – which sometimes come with heftier paychecks and significant pay raises. After working retail or hospital pharmacy, a technician will often seek opportunities in other fields such as consulting, nuclear pharmacy, remote order entry, or working for insurance companies, to name a few. Pharmacy technicians who work as consultants or project managers could earn upwards of $60,000 - $80,000 per year. Most of these careers are work-from-home jobs that may involve travel to different sites, which is a bonus. Many of the larger companies also offer bonuses and yearly pay raises.
All in all, becoming a pharmacy technician is a great career path that offers many chances for advancement and pay raises.
"Pharmacy Technicians: Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics." 2019. Bls.gov. April 12, 2019. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm.