How Can I Become a Medication Aide?

Study what it takes to become a medication aide. Find out more about education, certification, job growth, and wages to decide if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

A medication aide is usually a nurse's aide who focuses on administering medications and assisting people who are unable to self-medicate. In some states, home health aides or professionals in closely related fields can also act as medication aides. The following table gives a summary of what you need to know before entering this field.

Degree Required High school diploma or equivalent is typical
Training Required Medication aide certification course required in some states; nursing assistants and health aides may need to complete formal training
Licensure/Certification Medication aide certification required in some states; nursing assistants and health aides may need to be certified
Key Responsibilities Administer prescribed medications under nurse supervision, update patient charts, may assist with hygiene and grooming, may check blood pressure and heart rates
Job Growth (2012-2022)* 21% for nursing assistants; 48% for home health aides
Average Annual Wage (2013)* $26,020 for nursing assistants; $22,050 for home health aides

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education, Training and Certification Do I Need to Become a Medication Aide?

Many medication aide jobs require you to have a high school diploma or equivalent education. The certification and licensing requirements to become a medication aide vary by state. In some cases, you must first be a nurse's aide, personal aide or home care assistant or aide. Other requirements may include completing a state-approved medication aide program and exam, being at least 18 years old and having previous experience.

Many states use the National Council of State Boards of Nursing medication aide certification exam (MACE), which is administered by Pearson VUE. MACE includes questions about duties and medication administration, observation, measurements, concepts and reporting. In these states, medication aide training and clinical skills testing must be coordinated by a registered nurse who has two years of relevant experience.

What Kind of Work Environment Can I Expect?

You may work in long-term care, assisted living, correctional or juvenile detention facilities. If you are a home health aide, you will provide services in people's homes. Your work may be physically and emotionally demanding. You run the risk of being exposed to communicable diseases. In some cases, you will work with people who have behavioral, social or mental health disorders.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

As a medication aide, you give prescribed topically and orally administered medications under a nurse's supervision. You make sure that the six rights of medication administration - correct person, drug, dose, time, route and documentation - are followed. You will chart the medication, dosage, time and date of administration on the patient's record. Refusals to take medications will also be charted.

You may be responsible for picking up or taking delivery of medications from pharmacies. If required, you take blood pressure readings, temperatures and heart or pulse rates. Your job duties may include providing support with hygiene and grooming.

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