Becoming a pharmacy technician is a good way to earn a solid wage or salary, have plenty of work, and sometimes gain a pharmacy education that can be used for advancement later on.
Pharmacy technicians work at major pharmacies, including Walgreen’s and CVS. They help pharmacists to dispense most types of prescription medications to both customers and healthcare professionals. They also may work in hospitals and other health care facilities.
Whether you decide to work at Walgreen’s, CVS or another major pharmacy, you will do most of the same duties:
- Collect patient information that is required to fill prescriptions from customers and various health care professionals
- Measure prescription amounts for pharmacists
- Label/package prescriptions
- Do organization of inventory and tell pharmacists when there are shortages of supplies
- Enter patient information into database
- Answer telephone calls from customers and healthcare professionals
Pharmacy technicians can actually work in many places, such as:
- Pharmacies – 52%
- Medical and surgical hospitals – 13%
- Other general merchandise stores – 7%
- Grocery stores – 7%
- Department stores – 4%
Job demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to go up by 9% by 2024, which is faster than average. There are a number of reasons that the demand in the pharmacy field is rising.
People are getting older, and Americans are living longer. As this happens, people want to live active lives as they did when they were younger. But of course, they have a higher rate of medical conditions and diseases. So this drives demand for more prescription drugs.
On a related note, there have been many advances in the pharmaceutical field in the last decade. More and more medical conditions and diseases can be improved, cured or controlled with various drugs. This also leads to higher demand for prescription drugs.
Further, pharmacy technicians are relied upon more in pharmacies because pharmacists must tend to other roles, such as providing flu shots and providing advice to patients. It is more cost effective for pharmacies to hire pharmacy techs to do many of these administrative and customer service tasks.
Salary and Hourly Wage Information for Walgreens and CVS
Some pharmacy technicians may earn an hourly wage, while others will be paid a salary. Most salaried employees at major pharmacies have completed a one or two year pharmacy technician certificate program (see more information later on this page).
Generally, the US government states that the median salary for all pharmacy technicians is $30,410.
Comparing wage information for Walgreen’s and CVS, you will usually find that their wages are comparable. Take a look at this data:
- com states that the average hourly rate for pharmacy technicians varies between $9.48 and $15.08 per hour.
- com states that the average hourly rate for pharmacy technicians varies between $9.01 and $14.12 per hour.
- com reports that the average base pay for CVS pharmacy technicians is $11 per hour.
- com reports that the average base pay for Walgreens pharmacy technicians is $11 per hour.
The US government states that the top wage for pharmacy technicians is $45,030. Most of those are almost certainly certified pharmacy technicians.
Certified Pharmacy Technician
The data would indicate that both pharmacies pay a very similar wage for starting techs. What you should consider is the advantages both financially and career wise for becoming a certified pharmacy technician.
At both CVS, Walgreens, and other major pharmacies, you can become a pharmacy technician with on the job training. But generally, most states do regulate pharmacy technicians and expect you to become certified within a few years of starting your career.
There are many vocational schools and community colleges around the country that offer postsecondary education programs in pharmacy technology. The majority of them are one year or less, but a few may last two years and will earn you an associate’s degree.
These education programs in pharmacy technology will cover many basic pharmacy subjects:
- Math needed in pharmacies
- Dispensing medications
- Pharmacy law and ethics
- Names, uses and doses of drugs
- Clinical experiences often offered in pharmacies
When you complete your education, you will need to take the certification examination that is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.
Pharmacy Technician Programs – CVS
The CVS website has different types of pharmacy tech opportunities to consider:
- Retail store: Most pharmacy tech jobs at CVS are for retail store positions. The corporate website offers many current retail jobs for all parts of the US. You also can perform a job search
- The CVS Retail Pharmacy Call Center manages incoming calls for retail stores.
- Also, CVS offers pharmacy technician externships so students can connect what they are learning in the classroom with the real working world. If you are in a pharmacy tech training program and want to do an externship at CVS, you should talk to your program administrator at your school, program or university.
Pharmacy Technician Programs – Walgreens
Walgreen’s corporate website states that its techs get comprehensive training that is the best in the pharmacy industry. Also, it notes that Walgreen’s pharmacy technician training program has been accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists or ASHP.
Their training program provides all Walgreen techs with their national certification and prepares them for a career in pharmacy technology.
Becoming a pharmacy technician at either Walgreen’s or CVS is a great choice to enjoy a good, stable career. And of course, you can decide later to enter pharmacy school and earn your Pharm.D. degree.