Pharmacy technicians are an important part of the healthcare team. They help to keep patients safe by doing things like double-checking drug doses, keeping pharmacies organized, and ensuring that hospital medication dispensers are well-stocked.
Besides getting to perform meaningful work each day, pharmacy technicians earn a decent salary and have a great job outlook. Pharmacy technicians are in demand in every city, from rural communities to big cities.
So what is the job outlook for pharmacy technicians?
Pharmacy technician job opportunities are expected to increase by 6% between 2022 and 2032, according to the BLS. This is double the average projected job growth rate of all occupations in the United States (3%).
Pharmacy Technician Job Outlook Overview
The average job outlook for all occupations in the United States for 2022 to 2032 is just 3%. Pharmacy technician jobs are expected to grow at twice this rate, with an expected positive outlook of 6% in the same period.
In 2022, there were 459,600 working pharmacy technicians in the U.S. By 2032, it is projected that number will increase by 25,900. During that same period, there are projected to be about 44,900 pharmacy technician job openings each year.
Most job openings for pharmacy technicians will become available because workers either leave the profession through retirement or career changes. However, more pharmacy technicians are needed as the population ages and needs more healthcare as well.
In addition to an aging population and workers leaving the profession, more treatments are becoming available that allow people with chronic diseases to live longer. While this is great news, it also means that more people will need long-term medications. As a result, there will be more demand for both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
Where Pharmacy Technicians Work
Most pharmacy technicians work in retail pharmacies and drug retailers. The rest work for hospitals, research companies, government agencies, and schools.
Here’s a breakdown of the data:
- Pharmacies & drug retailers: 52%
- Research centers, government agencies, & other: 32%
- Hospitals: 16%
Pharmacy Technician Job Outlook vs. Other Healthcare Careers
Pharmacy technicians have a great job outlook compared to the average profession. Most healthcare professions have a higher-than-average job outlook.
Here’s a look at the job outlook of pharmacy technicians compares to other healthcare professions, according to BLS data:
- Pharmacy Technician: 6% growth
- Medical Assistant: 14% growth
- Phlebotomist: 8% growth
- Dental Assistant: 7% growth
- Registered Nurse: 6% growth
- Dental Hygienist: 7% growth
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographer: 10% growth
- Certified Nursing Assistant: 4% growth
- Health Information Technician: 16% growth
- Medical Claims Examiner: 3% decline
- Respiratory Therapist: 13% growth
Average Pharmacy Technician Salary
Pharmacy technicians can earn a decent living, especially as they gain more experience and certifications.
On average, pharmacy technicians in the U.S. earn $37,790 per year or $18 per hour.
Those without certifications typically earn close to $29,640 per year. Pharmacy technicians who have advanced certifications and work in larger cities earn closer to $50,640.
In addition to more certifications, pharmacy technicians who work in larger cities usually earn more than those who work in rural communities.
>> Read More: Pharmacy Technician Salary by State
Is Being a Pharmacy Technician a Good Career?
Being a pharmacy technician is a great career choice for people who want to have a meaningful job, enjoy good job security, and earn a decent wage.
Pros of a Pharmacy Technician Career
- Good job security. Because the job outlook for pharmacy technicians is so good, and pharmacy technicians are needed all over the country, getting a job as a pharmacy technician offers great job security.
- Quick certification. You can earn a certification as a pharmacy technician in as little as four months, and most people pass their certification exam on their first attempt.
- Variety of possible job locations. Pharmacy technicians are needed in every state and most cities. Working for a large retail pharmacy like Walgreens or CVS may allow you to transfer your employment from place to place.
- Meaningful work. Pharmacy technicians get to spend their days helping their patients and customers get the medication they need and avoiding dangerous drug combinations. Pharmacy technicians get to make a positive impact on their customers each day.
Cons of a Pharmacy Technician Career
- Low starting wage. While experienced pharmacy technicians with advanced certifications can earn a good living wage, inexperienced and uncertified pharmacy technicians start at or near minimum wage.
- Background check required. Because pharmacy technicians deal with controlled substances like narcotics each day, they have to pass a background check and drug screening test before beginning employment.
- Lots of hours standing. Pharmacy technicians typically stay busy during their shifts and spend a lot of time on their feet. This can be difficult for some people.
- Hard to advance without more schooling. If you're working as a pharmacy technician and want to move onto a more advanced role, you'll likely have to go back to school to get your degree.
>> Read More: Pros & Cons of Being a Pharmacy Technician
How to Become a Pharmacy Technician
Here are the steps required to become a pharmacy technician:
- Obtain your high school diploma or GED. No matter where you live, you will need a high school diploma or GED before you can become a pharmacy technician. If you need to, you can prepare for and pass your GED exam in as little as 3 months.
- Get the necessary training & education. Once you have your high school diploma or GED, you can complete a pharmacy technician training program. You can choose an online certification program, a technical college, or a degree program to complete your education. Pharmacy technician training can last anywhere from 4 months to 2 years, depending on the program you choose.
- Take your certification exam. Certification exams are available through both PTCB and NHA. Even if your state does not require certification, becoming a certified pharmacy technician might help you get a job or earn a higher salary.
- Apply for a license. If your state requires licensure, you will have to apply for a license and pay a fee. This often includes submitting proof of certification and passing a background check.
- Look for jobs. Pharmacy technician jobs can be found on websites like Indeed and LinkedIn, through pharmacy and hospital websites, or on bulletin boards at colleges and universities. Some pharmacy technician training programs have counselors available to assist you in your job search.
- Start working as a pharmacy technician. Once you start working as a pharmacy technician, make sure you stay up to date on safety standards, new technologies, and updated guidelines to keep your patients safe and protect your license.
- Keep up with your continuing education. After you receive your certification and license, make sure you do not let them expire. Check with your state to find out exactly what the continuing education and recertification requirements are.