Pharmacy assistants, also known as pharmacy aides, are responsible for overseeing the implementation of administrative duties within pharmacies. They may be employed at private pharmacies, at hospitals or medical clinics, or at grocery store pharmacies.
Pharmacy assistants are not legally qualified or permitted to answer questions pertaining to the usage or interaction of various medications. All questions of this nature are referred directly to the pharmacist.
Most pharmacy aides receive on-the-job instruction and do not require a specialized degree. Many do choose to pursue outside certification and additional training, however, in order to advance to the position of pharmacy technicians.
Pharmacy technician certification, which is not required in most states, is offered through either the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or through the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.
Pharmacy assistants are often employed as clerks or cashiers and therefore must be skilled record keepers and efficient communicators, both with patients and with insurance companies. Key responsibilities of assistants to pharmacists include:
Pharmacy aides must be willing to work nights and weekends, especially if they are employed by a pharmacy that is open 24-hours a day.
The employment outlook for pharmacy aides is mixed, as, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the total number of pharmacy aide jobs is expected to decrease by 11 percent over the next eight years. The decrease in opportunity is correlated to an increase in the use of pharmacy technicians to fulfill the former duties of pharmacy assistants. With increased training and outside certification, however, many pharmacy assistants will be promoted to the higher-paying pharmacy technician position.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median earnings of a pharmacy aide or pharmacy assistant in 2006 were $9.35/hour. The average wage ranges from $7.89/hour to $11.58/hour. The top ten percent of pharmacy assistant earners netted more than $14.64/hour. The highest-paying pharmacy aide employers in 2006 were medical and surgical hospitals ($11.53/hour), grocery store pharmacies ($9.87/hour) and drug stores ($8.97/hour).