Pharmacy Assistant Studies: Prescription for a High Demand Career
When looking for entry-level pharmacy jobs, the positions of pharmacy aide and pharmacy technician are often confused. Pharmacy aid and pharmacy technician careers are similar in that both:
- Assist pharmacists
- Find about 75% of available jobs are in retail outlets
- Work odd hours that sometimes include nights, weekends, and holidays
- Realize the best job opportunities after completing pharmacy assistant or technician programs
However, the differences in their level of responsibilities are substantial. Pharmaceutical assistants handle clerical duties in a pharmacy, such as answering phones, stocking shelves, interacting with customers, and operating cash registers. Pharmacy technicians have more direct responsibility for medications, such as: receiving prescription requests; counting, weighing, and measuring medications, and preparing and affixing medication labels.
Pharmacy assistant or technician studies generally require six months to two years to complete. Pharmacy assistant or technician degrees usually lead to an associate of science. Pharmacy assistant and technician programs are offered at hospitals, community colleges, vocational schools, and through the military.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians offer certification to pharmacy technicians with clean criminal records free of drug or medication related offenses.
Pharmaceutical Aide Salaries and Job Growth
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects much faster than average job growth through 2018 for pharmacy assistants and pharmacy technicians. On average, pharmaceutical assistants earn $21,500 per year. The middle 50% of pharmaceutical assistants make $17,620 to $24,180 and the top 10% earned $29,660 annually. Pharmacy technicians gross an average salary of $28,500, with the middle 50% bringing in $22,770 to $33,030, and the top 10% of pharmaceutical technicians net almost $40,000.