Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in the smooth functioning of pharmacies and make substantial contributions to the healthcare industry.
Pharmacy technicians are essential in various aspects, from dispensing medications and providing customer service to supporting pharmacists and administering vaccines.
Healthcare workers in pharmacies, including both technicians and pharmacists, have faced significant pressures, particularly during the pandemic, leading to disillusionment, burnout, and resignations.
Nobody would argue with the above statements.
While there is no doubt that technicians’ contributions are indispensable to pharmacy operations, there is far less certainty on how to address the workforce crisis.
The following article provides some clarity on two items.
- A state-by-state comparison of pharmacy tech annual salaries, from high to low
- A deep-dive into one state’s plans to significantly raise salaries over the next 10 years
Job Outlook and Current Statistics
Here's an overview of the employment outlook for pharmacy technicians in the United States, along with salary statistics.
Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job market for pharmacy technicians is expected to grow by 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, a faster rate of expansion compared to the average for all jobs.
During this 10-year period, experts project an annual average of approximately 44,900 job opportunities for pharmacy technicians. A significant portion of these openings is likely to result from the need to replace technicians who transition to other careers, retire, or otherwise exit the workforce.
Average Pharmacy Technician Salaries at a Glance
Based on data provided by the BLS, there exists a $17,000 disparity in average salaries for pharmacy technicians across different states. Below, you'll find the pharmacy technician average annual salaries listed in a descending order by state:
- California boasts the highest average annual salary at $52,090.
- Washington follows with an average of $49,530.
- Alaska offers an average of $48,210.
- Oregon provides an average salary of $46,770.
- The District of Columbia offers an average of $45,240.
- Massachusetts reports an average of $43,830.
- Colorado presents an average of $43,630.
- Minnesota offers an average of $43,420.
- North Dakota provides an average of $43,150.
- Arizona reports an average of $42,360.
- Utah offers an average of $42,290.
- Hawaii presents an average of $42,210.
- Nevada reports an average of $41,760.
- Wyoming offers an average of $41,730.
- Rhode Island presents an average of $41,070.
- Illinois reports an average of $40,910.
- New York offers an average of $40,860.
- Texas presents an average of $40,620.
- Maryland reports an average of $40,550.
- Idaho offers an average of $40,510.
- Montana presents an average of $40,380.
- New Mexico reports an average of $39,950.
- Connecticut offers an average of $39,810.
- New Jersey presents an average of $39,250.
- New Hampshire reports an average of $39,070.
- Wisconsin offers an average of $38,970.
- Vermont presents an average of $38,900.
- Virginia reports an average of $38,690.
- Delaware offers an average of $38,620.
- Iowa presents an average of $38,370.
- Florida reports an average of $38,270.
- Indiana offers an average of $38,050.
- Kansas presents an average of $38,040.
- Michigan reports an average of $37,890.
- South Dakota offers an average of $37,840.
- Maine presents an average of $37,690.
- Nebraska reports an average of $37,610.
- North Carolina offers an average of $37,590.
- Louisiana presents an average of $37,300.
- Ohio reports an average of $37,290.
- Georgia offers an average of $37,000.
- Pennsylvania presents an average of $36,890.
- South Carolina reports an average of $36,870.
- Tennessee offers an average of $36,790.
- Missouri presents an average of $36,280.
- Oklahoma reports an average of $35,420.
- Kentucky offers an average of $35,340.
- West Virginia presents an average of $35,210.
- Mississippi reports an average of $34,910.
- Arkansas offers an average of $34,820.
- Alabama presents the lowest average salary at $34,720.
These figures highlight the significant salary discrepancy among pharmacy technicians, with California having the highest average salary and Alabama having the lowest. For more detailed information, please refer to the Bureau's website: Pharmacy Technicians (bls.gov).
California Healthcare Workers to Get Significant Pay Raise
Already the state with the highest pay for pharmacy techs, California recently approved a new law that will gradually raise the minimum wage for healthcare workers in the state to $25 per hour. Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October, SB 525 introduces five distinct minimum wage schedules for healthcare employees covered by the law.
Under SB 525, starting from June 1, 2024, the minimum wage for covered healthcire employees will be set at $23 per hour. This wage will then increase to $24 per hour on June 1, 2025, and ultimately reach $25 per hour by June 1, 2026.
These changes apply to several categories of healthcare facility employers, including those with 10,000 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEE), integrated healthcare delivery systems or healthcare systems with 10,000 or more FTEE, dialysis clinics, and healthcare facilities owned, affiliated, or operated by counties with a population exceeding 5,000,000 as of January 1, 2023.
For certain healthcare facilities, such as those with a high governmental payor mix, independent hospitals with an elevated governmental payor mix, rural independent healthcare facilities, or facilities owned, affiliated, or operated by counties with populations of less than 250,000 as of January 1, 2023, the following wage adjustment schedule will be implemented:
- Minimum wage for covered healthcare employees will be $18 per hour from June 1, 2024, to May 31, 2033.
- Starting from June 1, 2033, and thereafter as specified, the minimum wage will be $25 per hour.
The legislation also mandates that for specific clinics meeting certain criteria, the minimum wage for covered healthcare employees will be $21 per hour from June 1, 2024, to May 31, 2026, followed by $22 per hour from June 1, 2026, to May 31, 2027, and finally reaching $25 per hour from June 1, 2027, onwards.
Summary of CA Wage Hikes Through 2028
For all other covered healthcare facility employers, the minimum wage for covered healthcare employees will be as follows:
- $21 per hour from June 1, 2024, to May 31, 2026.
- $23 per hour from June 1, 2026, to May 31, 2028.
- $25 per hour from June 1, 2028, and onwards, adjusted as specified.
Additionally, SB 525 mandates that county-owned, affiliated, or operated healthcare facilities must implement the appropriate minimum wage schedule beginning on January 1, 2025.
It's important to note that California's general minimum wage will also increase to $16 per hour for all employers on January 1, 2024, up from the current rate of $15.50 per hour. Furthermore, Governor Newsom has recently signed legislation granting workers five days of leave in the event of a pregnancy loss.
Pay Raise Addresses a Longstanding Problem, SEIU Says
Before the Bill signing, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a 2 million-strong North American labor union, had been persistently advocating for a minimum wage increase for healthcare workers, making it one of their top priorities.
The enactment of Senate Bill 525 unquestionably marks a significant triumph for this influential labor union.
Championed by Los Angeles legislator María Elena Durazo, this legislation paves the way for a gradual escalation in hourly wages for healthcare workers in most settings, ultimately reaching the $25 per hour threshold. Supporters of the healthcare bill argue that this wage hike holds profound implications beyond mere financial compensation; they view it as a crucial step in tackling the ongoing workforce shortage within the healthcare sector.
This shortage was further exacerbated by the demanding conditions healthcare workers faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. These circumstances prompted many to leave their positions, resulting in a healthcare staffing crisis.
Funding for the New Bill
Half of the price of the $4 billion dollar cost of the bill will come from California's general fund, and half of it will be paid for by federal funds designated for providers of the state's Medicaid program. However, the long-term costs after the new law is implemented are still not clear.
Unions, for their part, agreed to cease sponsoring local ballot measures for any pay raises at hospitals and other medical facilities for at least 10 years.
What Does the Pay Increase Mean for Other States’ Workers?
Addressing staff pay and salaries, while just one facet of a complex issue, holds primary importance as it directly impacts productivity, morale, and employee retention.
The CA wage hike law is already mirrored by similar legislation for healthcare workers in other states.
- New York: NY Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed a $23 per hour minimum wage for healthcare workers. The proposal is part of her executive budget for fiscal year 2024.
- Illinois: Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has proposed a $20 per hour minimum wage for healthcare workers. The proposal is part of his legislative agenda for the 2024 legislative session.
- Massachusetts: Massachusetts lawmakers have introduced a bill, S. 1203, which would create a $20 per hour minimum wage for healthcare workers. The bill is currently in committee.
- Minnesota: Minnesota lawmakers have introduced a bill that would create a $20 per hour minimum wage for healthcare workers. The bill is currently in committee.
However, some experts caution that wage hikes like these amount to nothing more than ‘band-aids’ for addressing healthcare worker shortages, if not accompanied by other policies that strike at the root cause of the problem. Patricia Pittman of the George Washington University Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity says she believes that addressing the problem of having sustainable working conditions, rather than salaries and benefits is key.
Still, for many technicians, the new law is a welcome step in the right direction. SEIU spokeswoman Renée Saldaña says that this law sets a precedent for other states to initiate action for healthcare-specific minimum wages and praises the bill as “making a dent in fixing what we have been talking about for years: the patient care crisis which is caused by short staffing.”