How Do I Become a Pharmacy Assistant?
Research what it takes to become a pharmacy assistant. Learn about job duties, education requirements and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Pharmacy Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Career Information at a Glance
A pharmacy assistant or aide helps prepare medications, serve customers and do clerical work. The following chart provides an overview about becoming a pharmacy assistant.
|Degree Required||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Training Required||On-the-job training|
|Key Responsibilities||Answer phones; operate cash register and serve customers; stock shelves|
|Job Growth (2012-2022)||11%*|
|Median Salary (2013)||$22,580*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
What Skills Do I Need to Become a Pharmacy Assistant?
Pharmacy assistants juggle the logistics of a pharmacy, so potential employers may take your organizational and computer skills into consideration. Previous experience in customer service, inventory, operating a cash register or volunteering in a healthcare setting may help prepare you to work in a pharmacy.
You may also need a basic knowledge of computers for processing prescriptions, inventory and insurance information. Language skills and attention to detail are essential for communicating with customers, answering calls and processing clerical work. Your job may also include doing many vital tasks without error, such as making labels for medications and checking expiration dates.
What Level of Education and Training Do I Need?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you may only need a high school diploma for this position (www.bls.gov). Once hired, you might begin by shadowing an experienced staff member. You will most likely receive on-the-job training, which the BLS notes can last 3-12 months, to introduce you to the pharmacy rules, procedures and technology.
Where Can I Work?
Part-time and full-time jobs can be found in pharmacies or other healthcare settings, but the BLS reported that retail jobs accounted for about 75% of both pharmacy assistant and technician positions in 2012. You may be required to work nights, weekends and holidays. If you work at a hospital, you may need to work overnight shifts. The BLS predicted an 11% growth in employment for pharmacy aides from 2012-2022.
What Duties Might I Have?
Pharmacy assistants focus on answering phones, stocking shelves and operating the register. Your duties can also include logging, storing and restocking medicine. You may spend much of the day on your feet, lifting boxes or helping locate supplies.
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