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.

Job Description

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.

As a pharmacy aide, you will work with computers and spreadsheet applications. You'll also use a cash register and other office equipment, such as printers, fax machines and label makers. Pharmacy aides should have good communication skills, computer knowledge and a detail-oriented approach.

Education Requirements

Because your duties will be more administrative in nature, a license to practice pharmacy isn't required. 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.

Coursework

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

Certification Options

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 February 2014. Some sample topics on the exam include:

  • Pharmacology
  • 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 42,900 of these professionals employed in 2012, 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 $22,580 in May 2013. The lowest-paid 10% earned $17,160 or less annually, while the highest-paid 10% made $35,680 or more. Health and personal care stores had the highest pharmacy aide employment level and paid these workers $22,790 on average. Grocery stores offered an average wage of $23,300, while general hospitals paid these professionals $32,130 on average. General merchandise stores offered a lower average wage of $28,020, while physicians' offices had the highest average wage of any industry at $43,190.

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