Why Don’t Technicians Get Paid More?


By Keona Owens, BA, CPhT and Kortney Mims, BS, CPhT

Have you ever wondered what the determining factors to pharmacy technician’s (PhT) wages are? There are always formulas in the pharmacy world, and in the Human Resource Division (labor market), there are compensation factors. What are those dynamics, and who determines them?

Is there a basic formula that determines how much PhTs should be compensated? Are there benchmarks that streamline these processes, simplifying the compensation theory?  Can PhTs climb the ladder and earn more?

Let’s dive in …

Hmmm, after asking all these questions, you might be thinking, is there a simple formula? How can pharmacy technicians get paid more, or why aren’t they paid more? Here are the influencers that determine pay wages, just in general.

The compensation theory examines the compensation decisions based upon pay level, structure, and pay delivery systems. Concluding that the level of education + years of experience + industry analysis + supply & demand + geographical location + company + industry + public vs. private sector + economic stability + blah blah blah blah determines salaries and wages.

In a nutshell, the level of education + years of experience + healthcare setting + roles/responsibilities are the dynamics for determining pharmacy technicians’ salaries, or who do you know!? Hahaha, scratch the latter, not really!

As of May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a pharmacy technician is $16.87/hr averaging $35,100/yr with no experience, a high school diploma, and on-the-job training; hospitals are $39,900; Pharmacies/drug stores are $33,110; Food/beverage stores are $32,320. The median pay for a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) is $17.35/hr. After acquiring a CPhT credential, the average mean wage increases “only” by $0.48/hr. The highest paying location in the United States is San Francisco, CA, where on average PhT’s hourly mean wage is $22.89 and the highest paying industry is classified as the Federal Executive Branch (NAICS 999000, Federal, State, Local Government)  located in the metropolitan area, averaging at $22.93/hr.[1]

We’re still diving, so let’s go deeper …

Salaries and wages increase drastically as a worker's degree rises, hmm the value of education. Before we go acquiring all these degrees, it is crucial to anyone’s career to complete an Individualized Education and Employment plan (IEEP), aligning purpose with passion and monetizing it. (Ding ding ding or ching ching ching)

Let’s hold the conversation right here, just for a moment … 

Mapping out educational and career objectives is crucial in our lives' developmental stages (any stage). IEEPs help navigate while exploring career options in an attempt to prevent delays of uncertainties - let’s call it a reassurance policy, a personalized roadmap to how you’re going to get to where you want to go. Set goals, deadlines, and identity/have someone that is going to hold you accountable (accountability partner, personal cheerleader “woohoo”). Use the SMART principles for goal setting and be intentional; download strategy and implement it into your everyday life.

Pharmacy technicians’ roles have evolved, allowing technicians to increase their capacity and climb the ladder of “MONEY,” my apologies, increased responsibilities, and awesome employment opportunities.

Here goes another sidebar ...

Money excites people, and it provides sustainability, opportunities for better lifestyles, and more.

The completion of a formal pharmacy technician program, certification, and experience will increase wages by $3-5k/yr. Additional credentials will increase wages. Conjoining CPhT with an Associate Degree in Technology or Business Management will increase responsibilities but, most importantly, compensation, averaging at $10k/yr. Whereas a Bachelor's in Technology or Business Management, increased responsibilities, median wages of $1,173 weekly.[2]

When a pharmacy is your passion, remember to align purpose with passion (monetizing your skills while enjoying what you do). There are various dynamics within the healthcare industry. We are all pieces of that puzzle. Determine your goal and set the pace to get there.

Storytime … a pharmacy technician starts working at a retail store averaging $15.87/hr (20 years ago $10.25/hr) but ends up being the Director of Pharmacy, Buyer, Product Implementation Analysis, Senior Advisor, Consultant, Educator, Operational Manager, etc.… CPhT can earn six figures, personal attestment! The level of dedication determines success; put in the work to receive results (it’s rewarding)! Remember the formula, level of education, years of experience, healthcare settings, roles/responsibilities determines salaries and wages.



[1] https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292052.htm#st

[2] https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/data-on-display/education-pays.htm