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What Is the Average Pay for a Pharmacy Assistant?

If you enjoy customer service and have an interest in pharmaceutical science, a job as a pharmacy assistant might be a good fit. Read on for information about the job duties, educational requirements and factors affecting the average pay for a pharmacy assistant.

Job Duties

As a pharmacy assistant, you would help pharmacy technicians and pharmacists by completing routine administrative and customer service tasks, such as ringing up customer purchases and answering telephones. In most cases, you do not deal directly with prescriptions beyond restocking shelves.

Important Facts About Pharmacy Assistants

On-the-Job Training Apprenticeships available
Licensure Voluntary; requirement vary by state
Key Skills Clear communication, attention to detail, time management, organization, close listening, empathy
Similar Occupations Teller, postal service clerk, gaming cage worker, hotel, motel, and resort desk clerk, gaming change person and booth cashiers

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that job growth for pharmacy aides will be -5 percent (5% decline) over the 2016-2026 decade (www.bls.gov). This growth is slower than average and will result in reduction in the number of jobs over the period.

Salary Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), pharmacy assistants, also known as pharmacy aides, earned a mean annual salary of $26,450 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The lowest paid 10 percent of pharmacy technicians made $22,740 a year or less, while the highest paid 10 percent of these professionals made $48,010 or more. Your earnings potential depends on the industry in which you work, the amount of experience you have and the state in which you live.

Salary by Industry

The BLS reported in May 2018 that the highest number of pharmacy aides were employed by health and personal care stores and earned a mean wage of $31,940. Grocery stores and general hospitals also employed many of these workers, and the average wages for these industries were $38,920 and $35,220, respectively. Department stores paid a lower average wage of $31,460.

Pharmacy techs working for Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)made the highest average wage of $44,900. Outpatient care centers paid an average wage of $42,260, and Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals paid the third highest average wage of $41,720. Those working for Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories made an average wage of $41,470.

Salary by Location

If you work in the western U.S., you might also make more than the national average, according to May 2018 BLS figures. California and Washington were among the top-paying states in the country, and their average wages were $42,610 and $42,470, respectively. However, pharmacy assistants working in Alaska made the most, with a mean annual salary of $43,150, according to the BLS. Likewise, working in a metropolitan area may also allow you to earn a higher salary. The metropolitan area with the top average pay was San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA, with an average wage of $51,040. Some areas with low pay included Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia and Arkansas.

Salary by Experience

In 2019, PayScale.com listed yearly salaries for pharmacy assistants based on the number of years of experience they possessed. This source reported that those with 0-5 years of experience made an hourly wage of $12.15. Salaries rose to $14.93 with 5-10 years of experience, $15.45 with 10-20 years of experience and $17 with over 20 years of experience.

Educational Requirements

You don't need any formal education beyond a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) credential to work as a pharmacy assistant, though it may be helpful if you're familiar with computers. Customer service or retail experience could also be a plus.