Career progression for Pharmacy Technicians: What you need to know

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Starting a new career is always exciting. 

And as a pharmacy tech you’ll play a key role in keeping your community fit and well, and what could be better than that?

But whenever you’re embarking on a new career, it pays to think about the future. Is there room to grow if you’re feeling ambitious? Or will you be stuck in the same position forever?

Well, luckily, we can confirm that there is plenty of career progression available for hardworking pharmacy technicians. 

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry! We’re here to give you a breakdown of your options.

But first, can you make a living as a pharmacy technician? Let’s find out:

Can you make a living as a Pharmacy Technician?

OK, just because it’s possible to progress in your career as a pharmacy technician doesn’t mean you have to. Many people choose to remain a pharmacy technician for the entirety of their career, and that’s just fine!

Being a pharmacy technician is a rewarding career that pays relatively well and often has good benefits. And you shouldn’t feel pressured to progress if you are happy where you are.

So, how much does a career as a pharmacy tech pay?

Well, in 2019, Pharmacy Technicians earned an average salary of $35,250. That’s  $4,000 more than the average American earned in the same year. Not bad, right?

And if you haven’t sat your PTCB exam yet, we have all the information you need to succeed right here!

But regardless of how good the pay is for pharmacy technicians, ambitious folks are likely to be asking “Are you sure that there’s room for pharmacy technicians to progress?”.

Is Pharmacy Tech a dead-end job?

No! There are tonnes of ways for pharmacy technicians to progress. 

These include direct routes for promotions, like becoming the manager of a retail store. As well as more creative side steps, such as a move into pharmaceutical research or specializing in a niche area of pharmaceuticals.

Don’t worry if this all sounds a little confusing, we’re going to go into some more detail next:

What is the next step up from Pharmacy Technician?

OK, so let’s imagine you’re an ambitious new pharmacy tech. What’s your next step up the pharmacy tech ladder?

Well, here’s the thing: There isn’t one specific career path for pharmacy technicians to follow.

Instead, there are lots of different options. Each with their own requirements, and their own benefits.

Does that sound exciting? We certainly think so!

But what are these options, and how do you pick? Let’s take a look:

What are some of the career options for pharmacy technicians?

Once you pass that magic PTCB exam and get some pharmacy tech experience under your belt, the world is your oyster!

           Psst, try our free PTCB practice test to see how prepared you are to sit your exam!

You can set your sights on a management position; work your way towards becoming a pharmacy purchasing agent; specialize in vaccines and immunization, chemotherapy, HIV treatment, or automated medication dispensing; become a pharmacy technician instructor, or even train as a pharmacist.

So, how do you choose which mode of progression is for you? Well, consider what you want to gain. Are you looking to work more closely with patients? Or maybe you’re driven to support your colleagues? Does a certain area of pharmaceuticals intrigue you? Or maybe you love getting a good deal?

Let your preferences and your strengths and weaknesses guide you.

OK, so you’ve decided what direction you want to go in? Great! Now, how do you go about advancing your career as a pharmacy tech?

Let’s take a look:

How to advance your career as a Pharmacy Technician

Once you’ve got an idea of where you want to end up, it’s time to make a plan of action.

Now, what this will look like depends on your chosen career path. But generally speaking, it’s a good idea to build as much relevant experience as possible. So, if you want to move into management, it could be useful to offer to help your manager build the rota or run weekly meetings.

Or if you are interested in specializing in HIV treatment, you could ask for any opportunity to work with your resident pharmacist(s) on any cases that come in.

And it also pays to do some research at home. Are there any additional qualifications that could help you achieve your dreams? 

Don’t be afraid to tell your manager about your ambitions. They are best placed to help you gain the type of experience you’ll need to succeed. 

Now, if the thing that most drives you most is money, you’re probably wondering which option for advancement pays the most, right?

Well, let’s take a look:

What is the highest paying Pharmacy Technician job?

Look, we get it, money isn’t everything… but it sure is nice to have the option to treat yourself. 

So, what’s the most lucrative option for progression?

Well, with a median wage of $128,710, it is a career as a pharmacist that is likely to pay the most in terms of salary (correct as of May 2020).

But can a pharmacy tech really become a pharmacist? Let’s find out:

Can a Pharmacy Technician become a pharmacist?

OK, now, while becoming a pharmacist is (usually) the progression route that results in the highest salary, it is by no means the easiest option.

In fact, in order to qualify, you’ll need to head back to school to complete a Pharm.D. program and pass two further exams. Altogether, you’re looking at between 5-8 years of study!

But don’t be disheartened. If you are determined and willing to work hard, a career as a pharmacist is worth the hard work. And not only will your experience as a pharmacy tech help in your schooling, but you’ll also be able to continue working as a technician while you study.

OK, but what if you don’t want to retrain as a pharmacist? 

What if you want to continue being a pharmacy technician and still earn more money? Is there anything you can do?

How can I increase my Pharmacy Technician salary?

You show up at your pharmacy every day ready to work hard. You know everything there is to know about your job role, and you’re indispensable to your manager. But you’re still earning the same per hour as when you started out.

So, what do you do?

Well, if you find yourself in this situation, the first thing you are going to want to do is to check whether you’re being paid the average amount for a pharmacy tech in your area. 

Then you’re going to want to make a list of all the reasons you rock it as a pharmacy tech.

Next, you’re going to need to take a deep breath and ask for a meeting with your manager to discuss a pay rise.

If this doesn’t work, it might be time to look for another role elsewhere. Or even to reconsider whether chasing progression might be right for you.

Good luck!

Michelle Jones
Michelle Jones

Michelle is Medical Hero's in-house expert on the PTCB exam and pharmacy technician careers.