Pharmacy Assistants

Home >> Careers & Education

Pharmacy Assistants

Pharmacy Assistants


Education

What’s Needed:

  • Pharmacy technicians may go through a one-year certification process at a vocational school or receive on-the-job training.
  • Many employers prefer formal training but it is not necessary in all states.
  • Internships are often part of pharmacy technician programs.

What you study:

Because pharmacy aides must sharpen their organizational skills programs usually focus on them as well as on pharmaceutical terminology and processing. Coursework may include:

  • Pharmaceutical mathematics
  • Introductory pharmacology
  • Record keeping
  • Chemistry for pharmacy technicians
  • Pharmacy law and ethics
  • Communication


Video Overview

A quick intro into the work of pharmacy assistants. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.


A Day in the Life

Counting pills and pouring liquid medicines are also part of your daily work.

As a pharmacy technician working in a local drugstore you arrive about half an hour before the pharmacy counter opens for the morning. The pharmacist on duty is there before you so you say hello and take a quick inventory of bottles caps and jars as you prepare to start the work day. It’s getting close to flu season so you expect to be busy. After restocking the prescription bags and checking the label printer it’s time to open the window and greet your first customers.

Organization is vital to a pharmacy.

Only one person has been waiting and she’s just picking up a refill on a prescription the pharmacist prepared yesterday. As you’re completing her transaction you hear an incoming fax the first of many you’ll get throughout the day. Doctors’ offices and hospitals fax prescriptions to your pharmacy as a convenience for patients and it’s your job to organize them for the pharmacist. In some cases you may also prepare the prescriptions under the pharmacist’s directions.

Double-checking everything is part of your system.

As you expected your day is becoming busier near lunchtime. You spend most of your morning on the phone calling in refill requests to doctors’ offices entering new prescriptions into the system and ringing up customers. At one point the pharmacist directs you to reconstitute an antibiotic suspension while he compounds another medication; it’s a common task and one you enjoy. Counting pills and pouring liquid medicines are also part of your daily work but you’ve had more paperwork than preparation today.

Before lunch you wash your hands thoroughly something you’ve gotten in the habit of doing regularly because of the number of sick people who interact with you. It’s as much for their protection as yours and so are the gloves you wear while preparing medications. When you return you have a shipment of medications to receive record and stock. You’re responsible for ensuring that every medication is accounted for and in its proper place. Organization is vital to a pharmacy.

The rest of your afternoon goes by quickly as you count and label prescriptions while your fellow pharmacy aide handles the cash register. The pharmacist relies on you to add the necessary patient precaution labels on bottles and you have a system that makes the work go smoothly. Double-checking everything is part of your system. You’ve worked in the pharmacy long enough to know many common medications by sight but you check with the pharmacist or with a reference guide if you have any questions.

As your shift ends you give the arriving shift any information they need. Some retail pharmacies and hospital pharmacies are open 24 hours a day but your location closes when the drugstore shuts its doors for the night. You’re headed home on time.


Certifications and Licensing

Certification as a pharmacy technician is voluntary in some states and mandatory in others. Most states also have continuing education requirements to maintain certification. A background check is also part of certification in some states.


Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Full-time and part-time work is available for pharmacy technicians. Most aides work conventional shift lengths but as more locations offer 24-hour pharmacy service those shifts may occur at any hour. This flexibility is useful for pharmacy assistants who prefer overnight or afternoon shifts.

Work location:

Pharmacy aides work exclusively in retail pharmacies medical centers and hospitals. Technicians usually stay in one place although those who work in hospitals may deliver prescriptions to various locations within the hospital complex.


Recommended Websites

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Pharmacy Technicians ? Future pharmacy technicians will find a general overview of the job at this site. Although it is not a comprehensive guide to the profession the Occupational Outlook Handbook does provide detailed salary information and job demand statistics in one convenient place. It is an excellent initial resource for prospective pharmacy aides.
  • National Pharmacy Technician Association ? As the largest professional association for pharmacy technicians the NPTA provides an in-depth look at the profession. Visitors will find detailed information about finding accredited schools the certification process and career advancement. The site’s continuing education programs are an especially valuable resource.
  • American Society of Health-System Pharmacists ? One of the largest professional organizations for pharmacists also welcomes pharmacy assistants. The ASHP focuses primarily on pharmacists and pharmacy aides who work in a hospital or clinical setting. Career services continuing education and frequently updated drug information are highlights of the extensive site.


Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

State City / Region Typical Salary Salary Range Job Count % of All Jobs
AL Birmingham – Hoover $19650 $16K – $27K 230 0.05%
AL Huntsville $17800 $16K – $20K N/A N/A
AL Mobile $21460 $16K – $30K 130 0.08%
AR Fayetteville – Springdale – Rogers $18110 $16K – $22K N/A N/A
AR Fort Smith $19000 $16K – $29K 60 0.06%
AR Little Rock – North Little Rock – Conway $19120 $16K – $25K N/A N/A
AZ Phoenix – Mesa – Glendale $20290 $17K – $26K N/A N/A
CA Bakersfield – Delano $19090 $17K – $29K 200 0.07%
CA Chico $28610 $23K – $47K N/A N/A
CA Fresno $21450 $18K – $28K 80 0.02%
CA Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area) $21870 $18K – $35K 2450 0.06%
CA Madera – Chowchilla $21280 $18K – $27K 60 0.15%
CA Merced $20750 $17K – $24K N/A N/A
CA Modesto $25570 $18K – $37K N/A N/A
CA Napa $49090 $29K – $58K 40 0.07%
CA Oakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area) $27260 $20K – $53K 300 0.03%
CA Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura $22600 $20K – $27K N/A N/A
CA Redding $23010 $20K – $30K N/A N/A
CA Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario $26040 $19K – $40K 850 0.07%
CA Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville $27980 $23K – $48K 680 0.08%
CA Salinas $21020 $18K – $32K N/A N/A
CA San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos $27020 $20K – $43K 530 0.04%
CA San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area) $25040 $19K – $37K 460 0.05%
CA San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara $27740 $18K – $39K 460 0.05%
CA San Luis Obispo – Paso Robles $27350 $18K – $36K 40 0.04%
CA Santa Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area) $26640 $18K – $43K 920 0.07%
CA Santa Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta $23500 $18K – $33K 60 0.04%
CA Santa Cruz – Watsonville $23890 $20K – $48K 90 0.11%
CA Santa Rosa – Petaluma $34820 $21K – $55K 100 0.06%
CA Stockton $29160 $19K – $57K 100 0.05%
CA Vallejo – Fairfield $24250 $18K – $55K N/A N/A
CA Visalia – Porterville $19880 $17K – $24K N/A N/A
CO Denver – Aurora – Broomfield $31040 $25K – $44K 50 0.00%
CT Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk $23100 $18K – $39K 90 0.02%
CT Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford $20830 $18K – $29K 150 0.03%
CT Norwich – New London $22640 $20K – $35K N/A N/A
DC Washington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area) $23830 $17K – $38K 660 0.03%
DE Wilmington (Metro Area) $18460 $16K – $27K 70 0.02%
FL Deltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach $18520 $16K – $23K 40 0.03%
FL Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area) $23360 $20K – $30K N/A N/A
FL Jacksonville $26990 $18K – $38K 130 0.02%
FL Lakeland – Winter Haven $20570 $17K – $28K 60 0.03%
FL Miami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area) $20550 $17K – $29K 230 0.02%
FL North Port – Bradenton – Sarasota $19230 $17K – $29K N/A N/A
FL Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford $18650 $16K – $26K 300 0.03%
FL Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville $18890 $17K – $24K N/A N/A
FL Pensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent $18760 $17K – $28K 40 0.02%
FL Port St. Lucie $20070 $17K – $23K 60 0.05%
FL Tallahassee $26090 $20K – $31K N/A N/A
FL Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater $19740 $17K – $27K 420 0.04%
FL West Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area) $18440 $16K – $27K 200 0.04%
GA Athens – Clarke County $18290 $16K – $24K N/A N/A
GA Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta $19480 $16K – $41K 530 0.02%
GA Macon $17670 $16K – $19K N/A N/A
HI Honolulu $22210 $18K – $30K 170 0.04%
IA Davenport – Moline – Rock Island $18730 $17K – $23K 60 0.03%
IL Chicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area) $21370 $18K – $30K 910 0.03%
IL Decatur $21750 $18K – $28K 30 0.07%
IL Lake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area) $22300 $19K – $28K 50 0.01%
IL Peoria $18870 $18K – $20K N/A N/A
IL Rockford $21130 $18K – $25K N/A N/A
IN Gary (Metro Area) $23140 $20K – $30K 30 0.01%
IN Indianapolis – Carmel $22110 $17K – $29K 140 0.02%
IN South Bend – Mishawaka $21390 $17K – $28K 40 0.03%
KS Lawrence $20150 $16K – $24K 30 0.07%
KS Wichita $18380 $16K – $23K 90 0.03%
KY Louisville – Jefferson County $24420 $17K – $35K 350 0.06%
LA Baton Rouge $20440 $16K – $25K N/A N/A
LA Lake Charles $23140 $18K – $29K N/A N/A
LA Monroe $18470 $16K – $23K N/A N/A
LA New Orleans – Metairie – Kenner $18910 $16K – $28K 210 0.04%
MA Barnstable Town $24620 $20K – $35K N/A N/A
MA Boston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area) $23090 $20K – $30K 630 0.04%
MA Framingham (Metro Area) $21880 $19K – $30K 70 0.05%
MA New Bedford $23440 $18K – $33K 60 0.09%
MA Peabody (Metro Area) $23140 $20K – $30K 40 0.03%
MA Worcester $22240 $19K – $29K 80 0.03%
MD Baltimore – Towson $31390 $20K – $38K 230 0.02%
MD Bethesda – Rockville – Frederick (Metro Area) $21920 $17K – $36K 350 0.06%
ME Portland – South Portland – Biddeford $18900 $16K – $36K 50 0.03%
MI Detroit – Livonia – Dearborn (Metro Area) $17620 $16K – $22K N/A N/A
MI Warren – Troy – Farmington Hills (Metro Area) $25130 $17K – $29K N/A N/A
MN Duluth $22390 $19K – $28K N/A N/A
MN Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington $23120 $17K – $31K 540 0.03%
MN St. Cloud $29210 $19K – $37K 40 0.04%
MO Kansas City $23070 $19K – $35K 290 0.03%
MO St. Louis $27030 $17K – $38K 370 0.03%
NC Charlotte – Gastonia – Rock Hill $19070 $16K – $25K 130 0.02%
NC Durham – Chapel Hill $17820 $16K – $25K 90 0.03%
NC Greensboro – High Point $18420 $16K – $24K N/A N/A
NC Raleigh – Cary $25720 $17K – $32K 140 0.03%
ND Bismarck $22130 $17K – $28K 60 0.09%
ND Fargo $20830 $16K – $26K 130 0.10%
NE Omaha – Council Bluffs $25910 $17K – $45K 80 0.02%
NJ Atlantic City – Hammonton $18880 $16K – $28K 130 0.10%
NJ Camden (Metro Area) $18550 $16K – $30K 460 0.09%
NJ Edison – New Brunswick (Metro Area) $18910 $16K – $28K 410 0.04%
NJ Newark – Union (Metro Area) $21770 $17K – $29K 410 0.04%
NJ Vineland – Millville – Bridgeton $28390 $20K – $37K 50 0.09%
NM Albuquerque $24,910 $21K – $36K 140 0.04%
NM Santa Fe $23,400 $20K – $29K N/A N/A
NV Las Vegas – Paradise $17,820 $16K – $22K N/A N/A
NV Reno – Sparks $24,630 $21K – $31K 80 0.04%
NY Albany – Schenectady – Troy $22,660 $17K – $30K 80 0.02%
NY Buffalo – Niagara Falls $20,760 $16K – $33K 190 0.04%
NY Nassau – Suffolk (Metro Area) $24,380 $17K – $46K 320 0.03%
NY New York – White Plains – Wayne (Metro Area) $21,250 $16K – $34K 1,440 0.03%
NY Poughkeepsie – Newburgh – Middletown $22,880 $17K – $32K 50 0.02%
NY Rochester $21,470 $17K – $35K 290 0.06%
NY Syracuse $21,990 $17K – $41K 140 0.05%
NY Utica – Rome $18,400 $16K – $35K N/A N/A
OH Cincinnati – Middletown $22,080 $17K – $30K 490 0.05%
OH Cleveland – Elyria – Mentor $18,670 $17K – $29K 320 0.03%
OH Columbus $18,070 $16K – $22K 220 0.02%
OH Dayton $21,150 $17K – $26K 160 0.04%
OH Toledo $18,870 $17K – $27K 90 0.03%
OH Youngstown – Warren – Boardman $19,310 $17K – $28K 70 0.03%
OK Oklahoma City $21,080 $16K – $37K 210 0.04%
OK Tulsa $18,890 $16K – $25K 110 0.03%
OR Eugene – Springfield $25,980 $19K – $30K 70 0.05%
OR Medford $22,850 $19K – $29K N/A N/A
OR Portland – Vancouver – Hillsboro $25,830 $19K – $31K 110 0.01%
PA Allentown – Bethlehem – Easton $22,220 $16K – $34K 150 0.04%
PA Harrisburg – Carlisle $24,280 $17K – $47K 70 0.02%
PA Lancaster $19,060 $16K – $31K 80 0.04%
PA Philadelphia (Metro Area) $22,040 $17K – $32K 760 0.04%
PA Pittsburgh $26,660 $19K – $30K 710 0.06%
PA Reading $17,820 $16K – $29K 60 0.04%
PA Scranton – Wilkes – Barre $20,430 $16K – $25K 70 0.03%
PA State College $23,250 $20K – $43K 40 0.06%
PA York – Hanover $19,400 $16K – $29K N/A N/A
PR Aguadilla – Isabela – San Sebastian $17,390 $16K – $19K N/A N/A
PR Fajardo $18,290 $16K – $24K 50 0.38%
PR Guayama $18,290 $16K – $23K 50 0.39%
PR Mayaguez $17,330 $16K – $19K N/A N/A
PR Ponce $17,600 $16K – $20K N/A N/A
PR San German – Cabo Rojo $17,670 $16K – $20K 150 0.81%
PR San Juan – Caguas – Guaynabo $20,580 $17K – $24K 1,730 0.24%
PR Yauco $17,840 $16K – $28K 60 0.55%
RI Providence – Fall River – Warwick $23,900 $20K – $51K 260 0.05%
SC Charleston – North Charleston – Summerville $22,140 $20K – $26K N/A N/A
SC Columbia $21,180 $17K – $24K N/A N/A
SC Florence $20,690 $16K – $24K 50 0.06%
SC Greenville – Mauldin – Easley $18,630 $16K – $27K N/A N/A
TN Chattanooga $20,410 $16K – $27K 110 0.05%
TN Clarksville $18,150 $16K – $29K 60 0.07%
TN Jackson $22,440 $19K – $29K 50 0.08%
TN Johnson City $20,080 $16K – $28K N/A N/A
TN Kingsport – Bristol – Bristol $19,860 $16K – $26K 100 0.09%
TN Knoxville $19,470 $16K – $26K 30 0.01%
TN Memphis $21,730 $17K – $30K 170 0.03%
TN Nashville – Davidson – Murfreesboro – Franklin $18,250 $16K – $23K N/A N/A
TX Austin – Round Rock – San Marcos $24,580 $20K – $34K 240 0.03%
TX Beaumont – Port Arthur $22,170 $17K – $34K N/A N/A
TX Brownsville – Harlingen $19,010 $16K – $24K N/A N/A
TX Dallas – Plano – Irving (Metro Area) $22,410 $18K – $31K 340 0.02%
TX Fort Worth – Arlington (Metro Area) $18,710 $16K – $28K 410 0.05%
TX Houston – Sugar Land – Baytown $22,760 $18K – $29K 380 0.01%
TX Laredo $18,400 $16K – $25K N/A N/A
TX San Antonio – New Braunfels $23,080 $20K – $33K 540 0.06%
TX Sherman – Denison $19,780 $16K – $24K 40 0.10%
TX Texarkana – Texarkana $21,410 $17K – $36K N/A N/A
UT Provo – Orem $23,420 $20K – $39K N/A N/A
UT Salt Lake City $22,400 $20K – $36K N/A N/A
VA Blacksburg – Christiansburg – Radford $21,440 $17K – $29K 40 0.07%
VA Lynchburg $21,040 $17K – $27K 50 0.05%
VA Richmond $21,260 $16K – $29K 200 0.03%
VA Roanoke $22,440 $17K – $30K 90 0.06%
VA Virginia Beach – Norfolk – Newport News $18,990 $16K – $27K 180 0.03%
VT Burlington – South Burlington $22,380 $19K – $29K 90 0.08%
WA Bellingham $26,770 $21K – $35K 40 0.06%
WA Kennewick – Pasco – Richland $25,520 $19K – $31K N/A N/A
WA Olympia $27,310 $22K – $30K N/A N/A
WA Seattle – Bellevue – Everett (Metro Area) $29,070 $20K – $38K 280 0.02%
WA Spokane $22,920 $19K – $35K 250 0.13%
WA Tacoma (Metro Area) $27,060 $22K – $30K 50 0.02%
WA Yakima $24,090 $19K – $29K 50 0.07%
WI Milwaukee – Waukesha – West Allis $18,060 $16K – $26K 50 0.01%
WV Charleston $18,890 $16K – $27K 70 0.05%
WV Huntington – Ashland $17,770 $16K – $20K N/A N/A

    Advertisement

    POWERED BY
    Customer Service: 855.213.0348
    Mon-Fri 8AM-8PM CST, Sat 8AM-5PM CST, Sun 10AM-6PM CST
    © 2017, Bold Limited. All rights reserved.