The REAL Galley Slaves.. The Pharmacy Technicians

Jp Enlarged

Bill Pennington, a competent and well respected pharmacy technician/nurse made a comment that led me to believe that he feels that The Pharmacy Alliance should make a statement that TPA values and includes technicians in all initiatives.  I wrote the following back to Bill.  Then I decided to send it as an e-mail to all TPA members and then thought it will be timely at  Here you go.

Technicians have been an important membership group of The Pharmacy Allaince right from the beginning.  Because the wage of a career, life time Professional Pharmacy Technician is piss poor the membership dues are very reasonable.  My piss poor comment was not meant to get chuckles.  It was meant to get frowns from pharmacists and naked epithets from technicians. 

I know some hospital techs in Bellingham, Washington who were making $30.00+ per hour in the late 1990s, but, other than the magnificent Pacific Northwest, I don’t know of any techs anywhere who make enough to have a life and I’m not even talking about a family.  I know that there are techs who are single mothers and have to use food stamps to feed their children.  Now these are not Wal-Mart cashiers.  They are highly trained pharmacy support staff who are well educated in many over-lapping areas. 

They are well-versed in pharmacy law.  They are the gold standard experts  on PBM billings and how to squeeze out a payment when the PBM hesitates.  They enter new patients much faster than a pharmacist and process prescriptions at a dizzying speed. 

Some technicians have been trained and can be trusted to compound simple formulas with minimal supervision.  They can multi-task with the best.  I don’t get it.  The company MBAs make these frikkin’ ridiculous deals with the PBMs.  Profit is squeezed as tight as a…fill in the blank.. and who gets fucked the worst.  The technician.  Career technicians are an inch from welfare.   With the latest Farm package pushed thru by the GOP, food stamps will be eliminated (also Meals on Wheels).  What then when your lead tech, the best ever, dependable and conscientious, single mother with two children has to quit and find another job with higher wages because she can no longer

get food stamps.  Consider this:  Chain store pharmacy technicians are no different than the Wal-Mart employee who has to use the ER as a location for primary care because Wal-Mart does not provide adequate medical.  The technicians have had to use food stamps because CVS does not pay them enough to have a food budget out of their wage. 

The job of pharmacy technician is suited as the second income in a family.  Not as

the primary or only income. 

Think about this.  Technicians provide much more bang for the buck than pharmacists.  A stroke of a governor’s pen on a suitable bill and this game could change drastically.

What do you do?  You sit on your hands and refuse to look.  I am not the boy who cried “Wolf”.  There really is a wolf out there.  If they manage to take away the law that states that a pharmacist MUST be present when a prescription is sold, you are done.

Kaput.  Finis.  Dead.  Bankruptcy.  Divorce.  Shame.  Depression.  Fluoxetine.  My bet is that more than a few of you will be back sleeping in the spare bedroom at your Mom’s.

Maybe even spend your days sitting on the sidewalk with your back against the wall at Walgreens.  Pharmacists will be more important than ever, but with technicians doing more of the work, they won’t need as many pharmacists.

Forgive me for getting off track.  Back to the subject of technician members of The Pharmacy Alliance.  In the beginning, technicians were a significant part of the membership.  Lately, however, we have had NO technicians join for over a year.

I neglect to mention technicians because.. well, frankly.. I don’t see much interest

among technicians.  That is a fatal flaw because The Pharmacy Alliance is the only

group that knows, without equivocation, that the only hope that technicians have to

gain a career status that pays a living wage is when pharmacists advocate on behalf of the technicians.  TPA will do that if technicians want to join and get the ball rolling.  In the meantime, I have one word for how technicians are treated by the industry.  PATHETIC.

Jim Plagakis




 > To:

> To Whom it May Concern:
> I would be nice to include Pharmacy technicians in any mission statement as we work together as a team. Just as Doctors can’t do it with out nurses, Pharmacists can’t do it without Pharmacy Technicians. Thank you.
> Cordially,
> William Pennington CPhT, LVN
> (and member of TPA)


  1. broncofan7  •  Aug 2, 2013 @11:54 am

    I pay my technicians $15/hr($31,200) once they are certified. My lead tech makes $18/hr ($37,500). Those are adequate wages for the tasks that they perform. A job as a pharmacy technician is not a job that can sustain a family, but it does make a great second job within a family unit and it is viable for a single person.

  2. stephanie  •  Aug 2, 2013 @12:07 pm

    I am the highest paid tech in my company at $13.75 an hour after 14 years. They start our new tech trainees out at minimum wage , which makdes it hard to keep help. Our average trained and llicensed tech makes $9 an hour. Our pharmacy uses a lot of fill in pharmacists who don’t , know our computer system so our techs are the ones entering compounds and doing store transfers. And then the company can’t understand why there is no loyalty and such high turn over. After 14 years I get two weeks of paid time off, no seperate sick time, and 5 paid holidays a year, no sick days, it comes out of your vacation time. I work for a very small independent chain with 4 storess so I can only imagine what its like at the big chains. Until last week I was running our dme department but they shut that down with 3 days notice. Before I got married I qualified for some state aid by myself but the sad thing is my husband works as a mechanic for a national heavy equipment company that services coal mines and he makes less than I do. It’s time for us to leave wv , I actually have 2 bachelors degrees but I can’t find a job here.

  3. Pharmaciststeve  •  Aug 2, 2013 @5:00 pm

    When I sold my business back in 1996 to Revco… they told me that they would hire my technician and match the salary & benefits …that I was paying her. I don’t remember what her salary was.. but.. I was told that – at that time – she was the HIGHEST PAID tech in Revco…

    Techs are the “bread & butter” of the Rx dept.. a good tech is worth their weight in gold..

  4. Crazy RxMan  •  Aug 3, 2013 @2:55 am

    I’ve had good techs and bad techs. The good ones are worth so much more than the national average they are getting.

  5. anonymous  •  Aug 3, 2013 @9:02 am

    At my old stores, most of the techs should not have been hired, period. Years on the job, still couldn’t type a correct sig to save their life. Horrible. When I floated, I met the best technicians. Hard working yet poor. Eventually the good ones quit and the bad ones stayed in my district. A good tech can get burned out like a good pharmacist. I have seen it happen. They are trapped unless they go back to school but they can’t because they don’t have the money. They have debts already. Pay them a living wage. And yes, most were on welfare too.

  6. bcmigal  •  Aug 3, 2013 @2:27 pm

    Fast food workers are “striking” for higher pay. I do not know of one single tech in our dept (of a major chain) who makes 15/hr. Not to demean those who work in the fast food industry, but don’t our techs have to do more that hold the pickles? Sure, some are faster and smarter than the others, but they all have to be licensed in our state and they have all had the same company training program. I think the starter wage for them should be 20/hr.

  7. ZoeySpark77  •  Aug 4, 2013 @10:01 am

    Thank you for this post. I’m a single female in my 30′s. I’ve been a tech since 2005 and I’m certified. The max I have made until now is 11.75/hr. I finally got a new job with a retail medical clinic that pays more, but it’s still not enough to live on my own without a roommate. What is it that needs to happen to change this? Performance based salary increases? Unions? New regulations for who can be a tech? I don’t understand it. We keep the pharmacy running smoothly, and those of us who are really good at our jobs deserve to be paid accordingly so we don’t have to struggle financially.
    My opinion, Zoey. Performance-based salary is the weakest. Consistent Licensure required in all 50 states. The jury is out on the CPhT designation. I suggest that this licensure be administered by the NABP and an APhA course required before the NABP exam. That is for basic level “State Licensed Technician” For “Advanced Technician” further APhA study and another exam. How has the CPhT helped you so far? Unionization? Absolutely. Unionization is your best bet. There are a half
    million of you. What about that kind of power do you and your colleagues not understand?

  8. pharmacyslave2000  •  Aug 5, 2013 @2:12 pm

    I’ve worked in anywhere from 30-50 different stores within my chain over the years. I’ve worked with countless techs. They’ve been good, bad and indifferent. However, the chains would do well to realize that you truly “get what you pay for”. If the chains want good techs., they need to pay a livable wage. Double federal minimum wage, i.e. $15/hr. would be a good start. Increase from there as expectations are met. Cap it at $18/hr. Seems fair.
    The techs. really can make or break a store. They are the ones who usually have the initial interaction with the customer and deal with the rx throughout the entire process up until the final check. They need to be responsible, personable and hard-working. Not an easy sell for $8/hr. to start.
    The chains could learn a lot from the indy’s and how they treat their techs. In my experiences, the independents ALWAYS pay the techs. much more than the chains. I’ve worked with techs. from an independent who was bought out. They were/are fantastic.

  9. broncofan7  •  Aug 7, 2013 @5:08 pm

    Here’s and email from a staffing company that I get weekly:


    Inpatient Pharmacy Technicians: This hospital will be opening up several hospitals throughout Texas. They currently have about 7 facilities in metro areas. Will be needing skilled inpatient pharmacy technicians with at least 1 year of experience, PRN and possibly temp-to-hire positions, Pay, depending on experience would be between $14-$16 an hour. Must have a clear Texas State board license and PTCB, IV certification is a plus.

    Clinical Inpatient Pharmacist: This hospital will be opening up several hospitals throughout Texas. They currently have about 7 facilities in metro areas. Will be needing skilled clinical/inpatient pharmacist with at least 1 year of experience, PRN and possibly temp-to-hire positions. Pay, depending on experience, would be $50-$54 an hour. Pharmacy usually has one to two pharmacists and three to six technicians. Must have a clear Texas State board license.


    Pharmacy Technician: This facility is a closed door pharmacy that is rapidly growing. They are in need of pharmacy technicians with 2+ years of pharmacy experience in closed door, managed care, retail, or call centers. The positions are temp or temp-to-hire, and the hours are Monday-Friday with flex Saturdays-10 a.m.-7 p.m. or 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Pay is commensurate with experience; $14-$16 an hour. Must have a clear Texas State board license and PTCB certification.

    Oncology Pharmacy Technician: This facility has several locations throughout Dallas, TX. They are in need of pharmacy technicians that have experience in compounding chemotherapy drugs. Requirements are: Pharmacy technicians with 2+ years of chemo-mixing experience, inpatient experience preferred, PRN hours (hours of operation could be from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday), pay is commensurate with experience; $14-$16 an hour. Must have a clear Texas State board license, be PTCB and IV certified.


    Pharmacy Technician: This facility is a closed-door pharmacy that is rapidly growing. They are in need of pharmacy technicians with 2+ years of pharmacy experience. Closed door, managed care, and intravenous compounding experience is preferred. The positions are temp and temp-to-hire and schedules are typical pharmacy hours. Pay is commensurate with experience; $14-$16 an hour. Must have a clear Texas State board license, IV certification, and PTCB certification.


    Pharmacy Technician: This facility is a small compounding pharmacy that is growing. They are in need of pharmacy technicians with 1+ year of pharmacy experience in either a compounding or hospital pharmacy, and also at least 1+ year experience with IVs. The position could be temp or temp-to-hire and the days would be Monday-Friday and some Saturdays. Pay is depending on experience; $14-$16 an hour. Must have a clear Texas State Board license, PTCB, and IV certification


  10. anonymous  •  Aug 16, 2013 @9:46 pm

    My husband is a tech- He finished 4 years of pharmacy school, took a break when his 1st wife divorced him, then never went back. He makes $15/hr and runs the place- and it’s not a chain (He tried that) and his take home pay is $350 a week.

    How many of you can live on $1400 a month ($350 x 4) ?
    Even if it was a supplemental salary (a woman’s) note the tone of voice, how far does $1400/ month go? No where.

    YES it’s way past time to raise minimum wage. The divide between the rich & poor is growing as I type.

    Are there bad techs-Yes Are there Fantastic techs who may be better than their pharmacists- also Yes.

    Should Pharmacy pay a living wage?

  11. ken lawson  •  May 27, 2014 @4:23 am

    Loyal experienced techs are a god send. It’s sometimes hard to maintain them. They are worth far more than the going rate for techs The money may come indirectly from the RPh pocket. It’s worth it. A really excellent technician is well worth

  12. ken lawson  •  Jun 8, 2014 @4:04 am

    Sometimes I wonder how much responsibility is relegated to a technician. Technically, they may not give consultations or advice. Insurance, sure. Where the otc’s are sure. Where’s the line drawn? pharmacist does not speak Vietnamese, Spanish, Hmong, or other language and the technician does, what recource is left? It is difficult enough to have the pharmacist do the rest at best. Without the expertise of the technician to be the go between for some technical issues, the pharmacist would be pulling out more of his hair or driven to distraction. My pharmacist is excellent, he however is from Nigeria. He cannot even pronounce methylprednisolone. What is he to do? The technicians are good, they do almost everything except dispense CII’s. It’s a exception i suppose. Sometimes you do what you have to do. If you stray too far from the ‘guidelines’, or are the rules written in stone? You best explain in term that are to the best of your legal knowledge i guess. Best of luck to those who do what they can to avoid messy entanglements

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