The overall job outlook for pharmacy technicians is positive. Pharmacy technicians who are certified, or who possess higher education degrees in the field, are very likely to find work. Most pharmacy technicians (75 percent) work in retail settings, including grocery stories, drug stores, and super stores, such as Wal-Mart. However, other technicians may find employment in hospitals, mail-order pharmacies, and student health centers located on college campuses.
Retail stores tend to pay less than hospitals for entry-level pharmacy technicians. Entry-level pharmacy technicians in a retail setting can expect an hourly wage of $5 to $8, whereas a new technician working in a hospital can expect an hourly wage of $7 to $9. On average, the hourly income for experienced pharmacy technicians is the same in a retail setting or hospital, with a national average of $10 to $13.50 per hour.
Pharmacy technicians who work in retail and hospital settings may be expected to work weekends, evenings, and holidays, depending on the needs of their pharmacy. Some pharmacies offer 24-hour service to their customers and require that technicians be on staff at all times. Many pharmacy technicians work part-time, but others may be required to work a full-time, 40-hour week. Some technicians who find employment in hospitals or grocery stores may become members of a union.
While advancement opportunities are limited for pharmacy technicians, some may become supervisors in their places of employment. Others may pursue specialized areas, such as chemotherapy technician or nuclear pharmacy technician. A few pharmacy technicians can become pharmacists with enough training and education. Others may seek employment as sales representatives for pharmaceutical companies.
Since June 2009, the demand for pharmacy technicians has risen 79 percent and is expected to grow another 25 percent by 2018. In 2008, roughly 381,200 people were employed as pharmacy technicians. The annual average income for pharmacy technicians in the nation is $38,000. However, the annual salary can vary by city and state.
Here is a historical salary graph for the average salary of a pharmacy technician:
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Pharmacy technician job opportunities are growing and individuals interested in pursuing a career in this field can expect to find employment. Experienced applicants, individuals with higher levels of education and certification, and those who are willing to work a variety of hours, will be most likely to succeed in finding employment as a pharmacy technician.