Pharmacy technicians typically work in retail pharmacies and hospitals, helping pharmacists keep track of prescriptions and dispensing medication to customers. Their duties include:
Most states regulate pharmacy technicians in some way, either by requiring they have a high school diploma, pass an exam, undergo a criminal background check, satisfactorily complete a training program or a combination of these requirements. Although Colorado doesn't license pharmacy technicians, the state does require that at least one pharmacy technician working in a pharmacy be one of the following:
Pharmacy technicians in Colorado are not allowed inside the pharmacy unless a pharmacist is present, or take a change or clarification of an order.
In May 2014, there were 4,450 pharmacy technicians in Colorado and they were earning an average salary of $33,320 a year, about $16 per hour.
The highest concentration of pharmacy technicians in Colorado is in Grand Junction, where there are 2.13 pharmacy technician jobs for every 1,000 jobs in the area. Greely, Colorado, has the lowest concentration of pharmacy technician jobs among the major cities in Colorado, with 1.2 pharmacy technician jobs for every 1,000 jobs in the area.
About 55 percent of pharmacy technicians in Colorado work in the Denver metropolitan area, where the average salary of $34,530 is about 4 percent higher than the statewide area. The highest salaries for pharmacy technicians are paid in Colorado Springs, where the average annual salary of $46,530 is nearly 40 percent higher than the state average.
Here's a breakdown of the number of pharmacy technicians in each of Colorado's metropolitan areas, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May 2014:
Nationally, pharmacy technicians earn an average annual salary of $29,810, which means the average salary in Colorado is about 12 percent higher. The only metro area in Colorado where pharmacy technician salaries don't exceed the national pay average is in Greeley, where the 120 pharmacy technicians who work there earn $29,650 on average.
Nationally, jobs for pharmacy technicians is expected to grow about 9 percent from 2014 to 2024. That's slightly higher than the average of all occupations, and it's a reflection of the aging population in the U.S. and increasing number of people who are acquiring health insurance under recently passed federal laws. As pharmacists take on new duties, delivering more patient care, they are expected to need extra help from technicians.
Demand is likely to increase in Colorado because when it comes to pharmacy technicians, the Rocky Mountain State has one of the lowest concentrations of pharmacy technicians in the country. Many states employ between 3 and 4 pharmacy technicians per 1,000 jobs while most metro areas of Colorado employ less than 2 per 1,000.
More than half of the nation's pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies and drug stories, but about 13 percent work in hospitals, which tend to pay better. Here's a breakdown of the average salaries paid to pharmacy technicians by different work locations:
General medical and surgical hospitals (private)
Other general merchandise stores
Pharmacies and drug stores
The following is a breakdown of the concentration of pharmacy technician jobs per 1,000 total jobs in each of Colorado's metropolitan areas. The average salary paid in that metropolitan area is also listed:
To learn more about what it takes to become a pharmacy technician in Colorado, we spoke with Judy Neville, president of the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians.
What are the advantages of studying to become a pharmacy technician?
In many states, you don't need post-secondary education to be a pharmacy technician, and Colorado is one of those states. What that means is that someone can go from their job selling tickets at the movie theater to working at a pharmacy handling medications that have the potential to kill people. But effective 2020, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board will require that in order to sit for the exam to become a certified pharmacy technician, you'll have had to graduate from an accredited pharmacy technician program. Many states are coming on board in requiring pharmacy technicians be certified so that the public can be reassured that when we go to the pharmacy we know the person behind the counter has had specialized training.
Are there other advantages to completing an accredited pharmacy technician program?
It gives you more opportunities on the job. For instance, if you've had the training, you can before more point of contact duties, like taking patients' blood pressure, or doing bone-density scanning or cholesterol screening. You can really branch out and do a great variety of things at the pharmacy.
If you're still in high school, what's the best way to prepare for college courses in a pharmacy technician program?
With pharmacy technicians, one of the most sought-after skills are to so-called 'soft skills' -- like good communication and leadership. So it's important to develop those skills in high school before you start work as a pharmacy technician.
What is the career outlook for pharmacy technicians?
Growth is higher than average. The paradigm for pharmacies is shifting from just filling prescriptions to providing more patient services, like blood pressure and cholesterol screening. Longer lifespans and changes in how pharmacies are reimbursed are also driving the need for more pharmacy technicians.
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for Colorado. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.
Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Pharmacy Technicians relative to the population of the city. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org
Annual Median Salary