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Pharmacy Aides and Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy aides help pharmacist in a variety of duties and tasks. These aides perform a wide range of tasks. Pharmacy technicians perform many of the same tasks but can also perform other functions as well.

What to Expect

Pharmacy aides work closely with licensed pharmacist to perform everyday tasks. There are two types of assistants to pharmacists, the pharmacy aides and the pharmacy technicians. While these two assistants appear to perform the same tasks they do differ.

Pharmacy technicians are capable of taking on certain responsibilities that pharmacy aides are simply not allowed to do. While technicians can handle prescriptions, aides focus mainly on administrative tasks.

Pharmacy aides are responsible for;

  • Answering telephones
  • Cashiering duties
  • Stocking shelves
  • Maintain patient profiles and records

Pharmacy aides do not prepare prescriptions which are left to the technician and the pharmacist. This is due to the exacting regulations and mandates set down by state law. Pharmacy technicians have undergone additional training and certification and are properly trained to handle prescriptions. Anything they do prepare must first be checked by the licensed pharmacist before being handed off to the customer.

Pharmacy aides, however, are entrance level employees who focus more on the routine tasks of the pharmacy. Since many pharmacies are located within retail stores pharmacy aides mainly focus on duties to maintain that aspect of the business. This leaves the other duties to the technician and pharmacist.

Education, Training, and Certification

Pharmacy aides do not require any special training or education. A high school diploma or its equivalent is all that is required. Many pharmacist however do prefer their aides be trained in some sort skill set such as prior customer service skills. All other skills and duties are trained on the job.

Some kind of formal education or training is generally preferred for those wishing to become a pharmacy technician. Many vocational schools and community colleges offer these courses. The courses offered are a rounded mix of classwork and lab work to give the student a true feel of what is to be expected of them once they are hired by a pharmacist.

Pharmacy aides are able to receive additional training either on the job or through similar program. Technicians must also be registered whereas pharmacy aides do not have to be. Certification is voluntary but recommended as it serves to prove a level of dedication and commitment to the field.

Pharmacy aides and technicians can advance to supervisory positions given enough time and experience. Technicians can even become specialized in specific fields such as chemotherapy technician.

Pharmacy technicians and aides may even become licensed pharmacist given proper training and time.

Pharmacy aides and technicians must also possess;

  • Basic math skills
  • Clear communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Good customer service

Employment Options

Pharmacy aides and technicians work closely with pharmacist. Therefore aides and technicians are often found at the sides of pharmacist. More and more licensed pharmacists are hiring aides and technicians. Pharmacy aides and technicians can work;

  • In hospitals
  • Retail establishments
  • Privately owned businesses
  • Government agencies

Employment Outlook

As pharmacists seek to lessen their work load they will be turning more and more to pharmacy aides and technicians. As a result pharmacy aides and technician careers are expected to see continued growth.

The increase of the elderly population as well as the increasing dependency on prescription medication is all contributing to the need of more pharmacy aides and technicians. Many aides and technicians will also leave the industry for other career paths or to pursue advanced positions.

Projected Salary

Salary depends on the training, experience, and any certification received. Pharmacy aides will generally earn less than technicians as their duties are not as demanding.
The average hourly rate for pharmacy aides and technicians is $13.32.

The editors of McGraw-Hill and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Big Book of Jobs, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2012-2013 ©2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies,  Material "Adapted"

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