• Careers & Employment Outlook

    Pharmacy technicians who work in retail or mail-order pharmacies have various responsibilities, depending on State rules and regulations. Technicians receive written prescription requests from patients. They also may receive prescriptions sent electronically from doctors’ offices, and in some States they are permitted to process requests by phone. They must verify that the information on the prescription is complete and accurate. To prepare the prescription, technicians retrieve, count, pour, weigh, measure, and sometimes mix the medication. Then they prepare the prescription labels, select the type of container, and affix the prescription and auxiliary labels to the container. Once the prescription is filled, technicians price and file the prescription, which must be checked by a pharmacist before it is given to the patient. Technicians may establish and maintain patient profiles, as well as prepare insurance claim forms. Technicians always refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist

    Employment 

    Pharmacy technicians and aides held about 381,200 jobs in 2008. Of these, about 326,300 were pharmacy technicians and about 54,900 were pharmacy aides. About 75 percent of jobs were in a retail setting, and about 16 percent were in hospitals.

    Job Outlook 

    Employment is expected to increase much faster than the average, and job opportunities are expected to be good.

    Employment change. Employment of pharmacy technicians and aides is expected to increase by 25 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The increased number of middle-aged and elderly people—who use more prescription drugs than younger people—will spur demand for pharmacy workers throughout the projection period. In addition, as scientific advances lead to new drugs, and as more people obtain prescription drug coverage, pharmacy workers will be needed in growing numbers.

    Job prospects. Job opportunities for pharmacy technicians are expected to be good, especially for those with previous experience, formal training, or certification. Job openings will result from employment growth, as well as the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. 

    Earnings

    Median hourly wages of wage and salary pharmacy technicians in May 2008 were $13.32. The middle 50 percent earned between $10.95 and $15.88. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.27, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $18.98.

    Median hourly wages of wage and salary pharmacy aides were $9.66 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.47 and $11.62. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.69, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $14.26.

    Certified technicians may earn more than non-certified technicians. Some technicians and aides belong to unions representing hospital or grocery store workers.

    For more visit the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook.