What Is a Pharmacy Aide?
A pharmacy aide is an assistant to a pharmacist and performs various tasks alongside technicians. A high school diploma is usually enough to enter this career, although you may get certified if you want to become a pharmacy technician. Read on to learn more about pharmacy aide job duties, educational requirements and career prospects. Schools offering Pharmacy Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Pharmacy aides work alongside pharmacy technicians under the direction of a pharmacist. In this position, you would be responsible for completing sales, updating and organizing files, managing supplies and stock, preparing labels for prescriptions, assisting customers and answering phones. Unlike pharmacy technicians, aides don't fill prescriptions.
Important Facts About Pharmacy Aides
|On-the-Job Training||Typically lasting from a few weeks to a couple of months|
|Licensure||Not required, but helpful for advancement within the field|
|Key Skills||Customer service focused, clear spoken and written communication, reading comprehension, situational awareness, clear judgment and decision making|
|Similar Occupations||Bank tellers; postal service clerks; hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks; gaming cage workers|
In most cases, a high school diploma will suffice when seeking employment as a pharmacy aide. However, some community colleges offer certificate programs and individual courses that may help you secure employment. It's important to note that these programs are often designed for aspiring pharmacy technicians, and you need to be 18 years old and have a high school diploma to enroll.
The program you select may require completion of an internship at a retail pharmacy, as well as the following courses:
- Drug regulation
- Pharmaceutical terms
- Inventory management
- Safety procedures
- Prescription calculations
If you're interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, earning certification through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board may improve your job prospects. Requirements for the Certified Pharmacy Technician credential include a high school diploma and completion of an exam. The exam covers nine domains and has 90 questions as of December 2015. Some sample topics on the exam include:
- Medication safety
- Billing and reimbursement
- Pharmacy law
- Pharmacy inventory management
- Pharmacy information systems
Job Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that pharmacy aide employment would grow by 11% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). There were an estimated 41,240 of these professionals employed in 2014, and the about average job growth is expected to result in 4,800 new jobs. The BLS also noted that pharmacy technicians would have faster-than-average employment growth of 20% over the same time period, which is much better than the job growth expected for pharmacy aides.
According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for pharmacy aides was $24,540 in May 2014. The lowest-paid 10% earned $17,440 or less annually, while the highest-paid 10% made $37,930 or more. Health and personal care stores had the highest pharmacy aide employment level and paid these workers $23,530 on average. Grocery stores offered an average wage of $23,650, while general hospitals paid these professionals $35,220 on average. Department stores offered a lower average wage of $21,030, while physicians' offices had the highest average wage of any industry at $43,720.
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