If you are looking for a job with just a high school diploma (or in some cases while still a secondary student) then you might consider applying for a pharmacy aide position. This is a great way to find out if you would like to pursue a career as a pharmacy technician and beyond, whether you are looking for a professional change or just beginning to build up your resume.
What Is A Pharmacy Aide?
A pharmacy aide assists pharmacists and pharmacy technicians with tasks to help pharmacy operations run smoothly. Pharmacy aides perform clerical and customer service duties, but generally do not perform tasks related to preparing medications/prescriptions. They are usually trained on-the-job.
Pharmacy aides may go by other job titles, such as “Pharmacy Clerk,” “Pharmacy Cashier,” and “Pharmacy Assistant.”
Pharmacy aides need to “ensure customer satisfaction by handling each customer with the eye’s, hi’s and help.” – CVS Caremark Job Posting for Pharmacy Clerk/Cashier
Pharmacy Aide At A Glance
- Preferred/Required Qualifications: High School Diploma, or equivalent, and previous customer service experience
- Training: Generally on-the-job training
- Certification/Licensure: Generally no certification/licensure required
- Median Annual Salaries: $21, 860*
- Job Outlook: 11.1% growth from 2010 to 2020**
Pharmacy aides may work full or part time. Many are expected to be able to work evenings, weekends and holidays. They work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Depending on the pharmacy, pharmacy aides may work closely with pharmacy technicians, but the roles of pharmacy technicians are much more specialized.
Examples of common pharmacy aide job duties include:
- Communicating with and greeting patients/customers.
- Answering the telephone efficiently and professionally.
- Directing customers/patients to the pharmacist when required.
- Operating the cash register/handling transactions.
- Updating patient/customer files (i.e. name, address, physician and insurance info).
- Maintain confidentiality of patient/customer information.
- Stocking and taking inventory of over-the-counter medications as well as retail items if applicable (i.e. stationary, confectionery, toiletries, etc).
- Cleaning/tidying the pharmacy, such as sweeping, dusting and cleaning restrooms.
- Other clerical duties as directed by the pharmacist, such as filing, pricing retail merchandise, etc.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of pharmacy aides work in pharmacies found in health and personal care stores, such as drug stores. Pharmacy aides also work in in grocery stores, hospitals, department stores, doctors’ offices, outpatient centers, among other work settings.
Education & Experience Requirements
Generally to become a pharmacy aide, you do not need any prior experience working in a pharmaceutical setting and training is usually provided on-the-job.
Required or preferred qualifications will vary by employer.
- Age: While many employers will stipulate you be at least 18 years old, others may hire younger candidates of legal working age.
- Education: Many employers will require or prefer you have a high school diploma or equivalent; some pharmacies do hire part time pharmacy aides still in high school.
- Previous Experience: Many employers will prefer (some will require) previous retail experience that demonstrates customer service and cash register skills. However, if you are a fast learner, are comfortable with math and make a friendly first impression, you may be able to secure a pharmacy aide job without previous retail experience.
- Physical Demands: You must be able to stand for long periods of time, as well as bend and lift 20+ pounds (depending on the employer).
- Other possible qualifications: Computer, typing, math and/or inventory skills, etc.
Note: In some states a Pharmacy Assistant may have more responsibilities, and thus require higher qualifications, than a generally defined pharmacy aide. For example, a pharmacy assistant in certain states may need to be licensed, to complete an HIV/AIDS educational course, etc.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of pharmacy aide jobs is expected to increase by 11.1%** between 2012 and 2022.
This is roughly about as fast as the average (10.8%) for all occupations in the United States.
Career Expansion Opportunities
As a pharmacy aide you will be gaining first-hand experience on how a pharmacy functions. Through further education and training you can go on to become a pharmacy technician (an occupation with a “faster than average” job outlook) a specialty or managerial pharmacy technician and/or a pharmacist.
- Source Data
- * Salary Data Provided by http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319095.htm
- ** Job Growth Data Provided by http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_102.htm