Posted in Career Insights

pharmacy assistant requirements

When you’re not feeling well, you go to the doctor.

In many cases, that doctor will send you to a pharmacy with a prescription for some sort of medication that will, in their professional opinion, make you feel better.

But who is the person at the pharmacy who is putting all the medication into the bottle, running the cash register, stocking the shelves in the pharmacy properly, and doing almost everything that doesn’t require the actual pharmacist to do? That’s the pharmacy assistant. So who are they, and what do they do?

A pharmacy assistant helps pharmacists deliver care to patients.

In any sizable pharmacy, the pharmacist, who has an advanced degree, is very busy, so they will pass some of the less technical tasks off to the pharmacy assistant. Duties passed off to pharmacy assistants include administrative and clerical tasks.

By helping relieve some of the stress pharmacists are feeling, pharmacy aides provide vital support to a community’s health.

Most pharmacies’ pharmacy assistant requirements are very attainable. Pharmacy aids typically must hold a high school diploma or GED. In addition to this educational requirement, successful pharmacy aids are:

  • Proficient in grammar, spelling, and basic math;
  • Strong communicators;
  • Dedicated to providing excellent customer service;
  • Organized;
  • Detail-oriented; and
  • Trustworthy.

If you possess the skills necessary and are interested in working as a pharmacy aide, you can get some answers to common questions below.

You can also learn more about what a pharmacy assistant does and get your career as a pharmacy assistant started by enrolling in Stratford Career Institute’s affordable, online Pharmacy Assistant course.

Read on to learn more about the different pharmacy assistant requirements and duties

What Does a Pharmacy Assistant Do?

Pharmacy assistants may also be referred to as pharmacy aides. Most commonly, pharmacy assistants are responsible for clerical or administrative tasks in a pharmacy.

A pharmacy assistant’s main duties usually include:

  • Answering customer questions,
  • Providing customer service,
  • Answering phones,
  • Running cash registers,
  • Referring people to a pharmacist for medical advice,
  • Ordering pharmacy items,
  • Dispensing prescriptions,
  • Packaging prescriptions,
  • Preparing prescriptions labels,
  • Maintaining stock lists,
  • Delivering prescriptions in a hospital,
  • Ensuring prescriptions get to the pharmacist,
  • Selling over the counter medicines,
  • Stocking shelves,
  • Taking in pharmacy deliveries, and
  • Filling out pharmacy paperwork.

While pharmacy assistants can help with many tasks related to prescriptions, they may not be able to directly handle medication in some areas. Each state has different laws regarding pharmacy assistant roles.

In these locations with more rigid laws, pharmacy assistants help with more clerical and administrative tasks while the licensed pharmacists work with the medication.

You should research the laws in your area to find out what exactly a pharmacy assistant can do where you live. Required experience and training may differ.

What Skills and Personality Traits do Pharmacy Assistants Need?

As with any job, being a pharmacy assistant is not for everyone. If you are considering pursuing a career as a pharmacy aid, be sure to understand the skills and personality traits necessary to be successful in your role.

In order to be successful, pharmacy assistants need to be:

  • Responsible,
  • Attentive to detail,
  • Good at working with people,
  • Able to provide excellent customer service,
  • Computer savvy,
  • Able to take directions well,
  • Excellent verbal and written communicators,
  • Understanding of federal, state and local laws related to pharmacy work, and
  • Able to comply with federal, state and local laws related to pharmacy work.

Perhaps most importantly, a pharmacy aid must be empathetic to a patient’s needs. Trips to the pharmacy can mean a loved one is ill, and it is sometimes stressful for customers.

Being a strong listener and able to professionally empathize with others will take a pharmacy assistant’s care to the next level.

Where and When Does a Pharmacy Assistant Work?

Pharmacy assistants can work in a number of different settings including pharmacies inside of retail stores, clinics and hospitals.

As a pharmacy assistant, you will spend a lot of time on your feet. You may also work nights and weekends to accommodate people who need to go to the pharmacy at odd hours.

How Can I Become a Pharmacy Assistant?

There are two common requirements to become a pharmacy assistant: having a high school diploma or equivalent and having a criminal history clean of serious wrongdoing.

While it won’t always be the case, often a criminal history involving illegal possession or consumption of controlled medications will be a disqualifying factor for those who hope to be pharmacy assistants.

A pharmacy assistant is someone trustworthy and capable of communicating information to customers and to representatives of the doctor prescribing the medication if needs be.

The pharmacy assistant is also at least somewhat proficient in using a computer, because the job requires a lot of computer work.

If you are ready to start applying for pharmacy assistant positions, check out websites like Snagajob and Betterteam. These jobs are posted by pharmacists or pharmacy managers who are looking for help in relieving stress in their workplace.

What Is a Typical Pharmacy Assistant Job Description?

A typical pharmacy assistant job description will provide:

  • An overview of the job,
  • The duties the pharmacy expects the pharmacy assistant to perform, and
  • The required qualifications applicants must possess to be considered for the role.

You should review each pharmacy assistant job description in its entirety before applying for the role.

What to Look for in a Pharmacy Assistant Job Description

As an applicant, there are some things you should pay close attention to when applying for a pharmacy aid role. These details include:

  • Pay,
  • Hours,
  • Benefits, and
  • Training.

You should note whether the pharmacy assistant role you are interested in is an hourly or salaried position. The hours you might be expected to work are likely influenced by the pay structure the position falls under.

Additionally, part-time employees are typically not eligible for benefits. If you are interested in finding a pharmacy aid position that offers benefits, a full-time or salaried position should be part of your search criteria.

Finally, some pharmacy assistant positions provide on-the-job paid training while others necessitate prior experience and knowledge.

Regardless of the training and knowledge requirements for the position you’re applying for, our pharmacy assistant online course can give you an advantage when applying for jobs. 

Enroll today to get your pharmacy assistant career started!

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Become a Pharmacy Assistant

Become a Pharmacy Assistant

Are you interested in becoming a pharmacy assistant? Learn more about being a pharmacy assistant in our distance learning course.