Where Can Pharmacy Technicians Work?

Pharmacy technicians are integral parts of healthcare teams. They help to keep patients safe and healthy by filling prescriptions, keeping medications organized and stocked correctly, compounding different medications, and double-checking for dangerous medication interactions. 

Pharmacy technicians can work in retail pharmacies, hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities, and research organizations.

This guide goes over all the places pharmacy technicians can work, what they do in each location, average salary,  and more. 

10 Places Pharmacy Technicians Can Work

You may be surprised to hear that there are many different places where pharmacy technicians can work. It's even possible to be a work-from-home pharmacy technician!

Let's take a look at the 10 most common places you'll find pharmacy technicians, including the salary, typical hour, and responsibilities for each.

Before we dive in, if you're interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, check out our 4-Month Online Pharmacy Technician Program. It is cheaper and faster than most alternatives and we help you find a job after graduation.

1) Retail Pharmacies

Retail pharmacies are the most common place where pharmacy technicians work. When most people think of pharmacy technicians, they think about retail pharmacies like Walgreens or CVS. 

Retail pharmacy technicians can usually be level 1 pharmacy technicians and do not have to do sterile compounding or handle hazardous drugs. 

Retail pharmacy technicians may have to work some evening shifts and weekends but typically work during normal business hours. They often work in a fast-paced environment and have to be ready to spend a lot of hours on their feet. 

Retail pharmacy technicians also have to handle billing and payments for medications and may have to deal with insurance companies. 

Pharmacy technicians working in retail pharmacies must have excellent organization and customer service skills. 

  • Average Salary: $37,790 per year
  • Typical Hours: Monday through Friday, 6 am to 9 pm (typically 8-hour shifts)
  • Responsibilities: Fill prescriptions, talk to customers, organize medications, coordinate with insurance companies, mix medications, and assist the pharmacist.

2) Hospitals

Hospital pharmacy technicians may have to have more advanced skills, like compounding sterile medications and handling chemotherapy drugs. Often, pharmacy technicians who work in hospitals spend less time interacting with patients and customers and more time restocking shelves and mixing different medications. 

Pharmacy technicians are needed in hospitals 24/7. They often have to work weekends, nights, and holidays. Sometimes, they may have to respond to emergencies as well. Hospital pharmacy technicians have some of the highest salaries.

  • Average Salary: $43,691 per year
  • Typical Hours: Days, nights, weekdays, weekends, and holidays; 8-hour shifts most common
  • Responsibilities: Compound sterile medications, deliver medications to hospital units, respond to emergencies, inventory medications, and handle hospital automatic medication dispensers. 

3) Mail-Order Pharmacies

Mail-order pharmacies help patients get their prescriptions and other medications sent directly to their homes. These are ideal for patients who are too sick or injured to make it to the pharmacy. 

Pharmacy technicians working in mail-order pharmacies have to be detail-oriented, double-checking each prescription, address, and patient insurance information. 

While mail-order pharmacy technicians do not spend a lot of their day working face-to-face with customers, they may spend a lot of their time talking on the phone and answering emails or chat messages. 

  • Average Salary: $39,208 per year
  • Typical Hours: 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday 
  • Responsibilities: Fill medication orders, double check prescriptions, coordinate with insurance companies, take inventory of and organize medications. 

4) Long-Term Care Facilities

Long-term care facilities operate similarly to the hospital, where pharmacy technicians spend most of their time compounding medications and delivering them to dispensing machines or nursing staff. 

Pharmacy technicians in long-term care facilities have to work closely with the nurses and nursing assistants to ensure that all medications are delivered on time and have the correct labeling information. 

Pharmacy technicians sometimes cover multiple care facilities, delivering medications to multiple locations each day. 

  • Average Salary: $38,072 per year
  • Typical Hours: Days, nights, weekdays, weekends, and holidays
  • Responsibilities: Mix medications, deliver medications to nursing staff, take inventory of drugs, and handle hazardous medications. 

5) Pharmaceutical Companies

Pharmaceutical companies often hire pharmacy technicians to help with the development, manufacturing, and/or research of new medications. 

These jobs require extreme attention to detail and may involve compounding medications and drawing up doses to be tested. They may also be involved in talking to patients or working with advertising agencies to get new medication onto the market. 

Most pharmaceutical companies prefer to hire level III or advanced pharmacy technicians. 

  • Average Salary: Varies
  • Typical Hours: 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday
  • Responsibilities: Compound medications, record patient responses, measure doses, maintain sterility, keep accurate records, and maintain equipment.

6) Government Agencies

Many government agencies rely on pharmacy technicians to keep things running smoothly around their facilities. 

Pharmacy technicians can work for government agencies in local health departments, military bases, veterans hospitals, or government offices and must have a thorough understanding of pharmacy laws and regulations. 

Pharmacy technicians in some government agencies must agree to respond to emergency calls, and be available as needed. 

  • Average Salary: $39,720 per year
  • Typical Hours: 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday
  • Responsibilities: Compound sterile medications, keep accurate records, work with Medicare and Medicaid, measure and count medication doses, fill automatic dispensers, track narcotic usage, and maintain strict patient confidentiality. 

7) Educational Institutions

Colleges and universities occasionally need pharmacy technicians to work on research projects or work in on-campus pharmacies. These jobs can be great for students planning to attend pharmacy school or medical school, and some schools offer tuition assistance for employees. 

If you have experience as a pharmacy technician, you may be able to get a job as a pharmacy technician instructor or as a teacher assistant in a pharmacy technician class. Pharmacy technician instructors need to be level III pharmacy technicians and often need an associate degree. 

  • Average Salary: $30,000 to $80,000 per year
  • Typical Hours: 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday 
  • Responsibilities: Assist students with filling prescriptions, work with pharmacists on research projects, and teach new pharmacy technicians what they need to know to pass their certification exams. 

8) Veterinary Pharmacies

Veterinary pharmacy technicians help their customers get the right medication for their pets and other animals. Veterinary pharmacy technicians may need special training to learn and understand different types of medications and the correct doses for different kinds of animals. 

Veterinary pharmacy technicians usually work in large veterinary offices and may have to take on some other responsibilities like basic animal care. 

  • Average Salary: $40,081 per year
  • Typical Hours: 7 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday
  • Responsibilities: Take inventory of medications, measure correct doses, teach pet owners how to administer medications at home, deal with billing and payments, and keep the veterinary office organized. 

9) Compounding Pharmacies

Compounding pharmacies create custom medications for patients who need drugs that are different from typical premade medicines. They may be made without certain ingredients that a patient is allergic to or with different ratios of drugs than the regular mixture. 

Compounding pharmacy technicians can mix intravenous medications, creams, powders, ointments, or oral medications. To work in a compounding pharmacy, pharmacy technicians must have a special certification

  • Average Salary: $39,189 per year
  • Typical Hours: 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday 
  • Responsibilities: Measure medications, mix sterile compounds, combine oral medications, package and label medications correctly, and ship or deliver medications to the correct location. 

10) Clinical Research Organizations

Pharmacy technicians who work in a clinical research organization may get to compound new medications, help gather information about medication effectiveness, and be part of clinical trials for new technology. 

Clinical research organizations can work on creating all kinds of new medications and treatments for everything from cancer to anxiety to skin conditions and more. 

  • Average Salary: $39,520 per year
  • Typical Hours: 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday 
  • Responsibilities: Compound medications, assist with clinical trials, maintain accurate medical records, organize medications, and clean the research laboratory. 

How to Decide Which Location is Best for You as a Pharmacy Technician

Since there are so many different places where pharmacy technicians can work, you might need help deciding where to start applying for jobs. There are a few things to consider that can help you make the best decision for yourself. 

If You Want to Work with Patients

Many pharmacy technician jobs require strong customer service skills. If you enjoy working with patients or customers each day and like to have a lot of interaction with other people, you may want to choose a job in a retail pharmacy or educational institution. 

If, on the other hand, you prefer to work on projects alone, you may want to work in a compounding pharmacy, where you will have minimal patient and customer interaction. If you fall somewhere in the middle, a hospital or research job may be a good fit. 

>> Read More: Skills Needed to Be a Pharmacy Technician

Desired Work Hours

Being able to find a job that fits your schedule is essential for maintaining a good work-life balance. As you look for a pharmacy technician job, make sure you clarify the hours that your new employer will expect you to be at work. 

For some people, working the night shift is a great way to get in more family time or work on an advanced degree. Other people would rather maintain a regular daytime schedule. Hospital and long-term care center jobs are likely to require some weekend and night shifts, while research institutions and government agencies may not. 

Career Goals and Opportunities for Growth

Always keep your future goals in mind when you are looking for a new job. While some people are happy to spend their careers as pharmacy technicians, some people use their pharmacy technician experience to prepare for a future as a pharmacist, nurse, or other type of healthcare professional

If you dream of becoming an upper-level manager, a large retail pharmacy may be a good place to start. If you would like to become a nurse, a hospital is the best place for you. 

Available Jobs in Your Location

A quick search of job websites like Indeed and LinkedIn will show you how many pharmacy technician jobs are available in your area. 

Some more specialized jobs, like research or veterinarian medicine, may require you to move to be closer to work. Others, like retail pharmacies and hospitals, can be found almost anywhere. 

There are also travel pharmacy technicians that do short-term contracts to help fill staff shortages or increased demand.

Work Location Flexibility

If you want freedom to move from place to place, you may want to look for work within a large retail pharmacy. 

Getting a job somewhere like Walgreens or CVS may allow you to transfer between work locations more easily than working for a small private pharmacy or research center. 

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Here are the steps required to become a pharmacy technician:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.  
  6. 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. 
  7. 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.

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