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How Much Do Pharmacy Techs Make?

The $1.3 trillion pharmaceutical industry is a leading economic driver in the U.S., with nearly 300,000 people employed in everything from research to distribution. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are an essential patient-facing component within the industry. However, training is required before you’ll be allowed to disseminate medications to patients. The quickest way to get employed in pharmacy is to earn a pharmacy technician certificate, yet the average annual salary of a pharmacy technician compared to those of PharmD graduates could be reason enough to pursue a more advanced degree.

How Much Money Do Pharmacy Techs Make?

The amount you’ll make as a pharmacy technician will depend on several factors, including who you’re employed by and where your employer is located.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for pharmacy techs in the U.S. is around $34,000. That equates to just over $16 per hour for a pharmacy technician who works 40 hours per week.

On a state-by-state basis, you’re likely to earn above the median if you work in California; Alaska; Washington, D.C.; or Oregon. In those regions of the country, the median pay for pharmacy technicians is over $20 per hour. In California, pharm techs earn nearly $22 per hour (around 1.3 times the median).

How Do I Become a Pharm Tech?

Pharmacy technician jobs require less than a year of training. You also only need a high school diploma to obtain a pharmacy technician certificate. The Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) certificate exam costs $129. Training program costs will vary, but most individuals will be able to locate programs with tuition and fees that fall between $3,000 and $12,000 for a few courses that can be completed in under 12 months.

Pharmacy Technician Career Advancement

The cost of entry is comparatively low for a pharmacy technician, but it’s also a career with limited upward mobility. According to data from ZipRecruiter, pharm techs in the 90th percentile earn less than $45,000 per year. That includes most mid- to late-career pharmacy technicians. Although that’s higher than the median income for individuals with high school diplomas only (around $38,700 per year), it’s less than the median for individuals who have more than a high school diploma.

Those who obtain an associate degree, for example, earn just over $46,000 per year. And individuals who possess a doctorate earn median salaries that exceed $97,000 per year. What’s more, possessing a doctorate also results in the lowest unemployment rate. Just 1.1% of those with a doctorate degree are unemployed, compared to 3.7% of individuals who only have a high school diploma.

Pharmacy Technician vs. Pharmacist: What’s the Difference?

You may start as a pharmacy technician, but that role doesn’t need to be your stopping point. Anyone working as a pharmacy technician, or considering becoming one, might want to take the next step and become a fully licensed pharmacist.

Pharmacy technicians do not work independently or in management positions. Instead, pharm techs work under the direction of a pharmacist to fill patient prescriptions and relay drug information to patients.

Conversely, pharmacists perform managerial, advisory, and medical tasks. These can include (but are not limited to):

  • Meeting with patients to give immunizations
  • Reviewing prescription data to ensure patient safety
  • Offering health-related advice and recommendations to patients
  • Managing teams of pharmacy technicians

The types of service pharmacists provide to patients also require more training. Pharmacists must obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (also known as a PharmD). With a PharmD, you can earn three times as much as a pharmacy technician. The median salary for pharmacists exceeds $128,000 per year. In several US locations, the median salary for pharmacists is over $150,000 per year.

How Do I Earn a PharmD and Become a Pharmacist?

If you have the drive and interest to become a pharmacy technician, you may want to redirect that energy into a Doctor of Pharmacy degree program. The PharmD will take more time to complete, but you’ll see a significant long-term benefit compared to stopping at the pharm tech level.

KGI’s PharmD degree program takes just four years to complete. You’ll have the opportunity to learn from highly experienced medical professionals. As a Doctor of Pharmacy degree program graduate, you’ll also receive a specialized certificate that allows you to work in exciting pharmaceutical positions, such as ambulatory care pharmacy, clinical pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, and many others. You may even qualify for a $40,000 Presidential Scholarship and other tuition assistance programs.

Contact us today to learn more about our PharmD program requirements, coursework, tuition assistance options, and application deadlines.