Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists by answering phones, providing customer service and packaging medications under a pharmacist's supervision. Anesthesia technicians help anesthesiologists and registered nurse anesthetists, the medical personnel who administer anesthesia to patients about to undergo surgery. Depending on the facility, a career as a pharmacy or anesthesia tech may require only a high school diploma, or a formal postsecondary training program. In general, anesthesia technicians earn more than pharmacy technicians.
As of 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that pharmacy technicians earned an average salary of $30,430 per year. The median-earning half of pharmacy technicians earned salaries ranging from $24,320 to $35,810 per year. The lowest-paid 10 percent of pharmacy techs brought home $20,580 or less per year, and the highest-paid 10 percent of pharmacy technicians made $42,400 or more annually.
According to salary comparison website Indeed.com, anesthesia techs reported an average salary of $51,000 per year as of September 2013. A 2011 salary survey conducted by the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians found that more than half of all anesthesia techs -- 52 percent -- earned between $31,000 and $51,000 per year. About 35 percent reported annual salaries of $50,000 or more per year.
Pay vs. Other Medical Technicians
According to the BLS, surgical techs -- a group that includes anesthesia techs -- earned an average salary of $43,480 per year in 2012. Radiologic techs, which include X-ray technicians, MRI techs and mammography techs, earned an average of $56,450 per year. Diagnostic medical sonographers, sometimes called ultrasound technicians, earned an average salary of $66,360 a year. Technicians working in medical and clinical laboratories earned an average of $39,340 per year. While anesthesia techs earned comparable pay to many of these positions, pharmacy technicians are among the lowest-paid of all medical techs.
While anesthesia techs may earn better pay, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that pharmacy technicians have a better chance of finding employment. According to the BLS, the total number of jobs in the United States is expected to increase by 14 percent between 2010 and 2020. While jobs for surgical technicians and technologists, such as anesthesia techs, is expected to increase by a relatively fast rate of 19 percent, jobs for pharmacy techs are expected to grow at a much faster rate of 32 percent.