How to Become a Pharmacy Assistant –What You Need to Know

By | August 29, 2016
How to become a pharmacy assistant

To become a pharmacy assistant requires certain training and certification to develop needed skills.

How to Become a Pharmacy Assistant –What You Need to Know

If you are interested in becoming a pharmacy assistant and need to know what it entails to be one, this post will be of benefit to you.

You will discover all you need to know about being a pharmacy assistant, including the training and the skills you need to develop.

You will also get to know what the job entails, including the kind of duties and responsibilities you will be expected to perform working as a pharmacy assistant.

Who is a pharmacy assistant?

Pharmacy assistants are sometimes also called pharmacy aide; they work under pharmacy technicians and licensed pharmacist.

They attend to customers and take care of some of the minor tasks of the day-to-day activities done in a pharmacy.

They need computer knowledge as they can use it to type small documents.

What are the requirements for becoming a pharmacy assistant?

Before you can become a pharmacy assistant, there are some requirements you need to meet –academic or otherwise.
Academic requirement:

There is no formal education needed for a pharmacy assistant job except a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) credential.

Any of the two can qualify you to work as a pharmacy aide – though a higher course program is an added advantage.

Without formal education it will be hard for a pharmacy assistant to be employed. No pharmacist would like to work with an assistant who cannot read, write, and understand simple grammar or even use the computer.

Computer knowledge:

A pharmacy assistant’s knowledge of how to operate the computer is a plus, considering the fact that most of the clerical tasks are text-based.

He/she may be asked to use the computer any time possible. Prescriptions and their prices need to be typed in other cases.

Skills requirement:

You need to have basic skills of working as a pharmacy assistant. Read books and manuals, browse the internet for information, and ask professionals and co-workers for guidance.

If there are people you know who once worked as pharmacy assistants, you may approach them for a brief interview.

Ask them about the job and the working criteria. You can also practice the system of working as a pharmacy assistant, as well as working with a local chemist to acquire the required skills.

Training requirement for the pharmacy assistant profession

Before working as a pharmacy assistant, you need to get trained. This will expose you to certain challenges that may come your way. Training will help you learn the pharmaceutical terms and law, calculations, biochemistry and chemistry, medicine classification and dispensation, and drug differentiation and communication skills.

Your training should include handling laboratory equipment, working with a medicine store, chemist shop, and local hospital or clinic.

Learn customer service skills and how to keep clients satisfied, and record-keeping and retailing.

As you go through the training, you will come to know the various types of medicines and their applications.

Working at a local drugstore or hospital:

You could decide to work with any clinical outfit just to gain the experience you need as a pharmacy assistant.

Sometimes, the job is voluntary or the pay minimal. The experience you receive will make up for the low salary that you get, as no vacancy will be available to you without prior knowledge or experience.

Get trained online:

If you prefer not to leave your room, there are online programs where you can get trained as a pharmacy assistant.

You can search for schools offering online pharmacy assistant program and enroll with any one of your choice with the aim of learning the basis of the job.

How to obtain certification or license

When a pharmacy assistant is certified he/she has the liberty to work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist.

The process for certification varies according to state or country of residence. There are some programs that can prepare and certify students for pharmacy assistant jobs.

They include:

PTCB: This stands for Pharmacy Technician Certificate Board exams. If you enroll and excel, you will get certified as a pharmacy technician.

The student enrolling in this certification program must be a high school graduate and 18 years of age or above.
NHA: National Health-career Association (NHA) is another program that offers certification exams. It also requires high school diploma and 18 years or above to enroll with it.

Duties and responsibilities of pharmacy assistants

The pharmacy assistant works alongside a technician in handling secretarial tasks and helping the licensed pharmacist in manufacturing and prescription of medicine, as well as helping in other clerical tasks as the need may be.

The assistant will make sure that the environment where they work is kept clean. He/she runs between the pharmacist and customers with news of their problems and provides solutions as quickly as possible.

See detailed pharmacy assistant job description here.

Provision of prescribed medicines: The pharmacy assistant is to get the prescribed medicines, check the quantities, package and label them, and then bring them to the patient or customer. The pharmacist checks the medicines before the assistant can package and label them.

Drug scanning: The pharmacy assistant scans the drugs through the computer system, bags them up with printed label and delivers them to the customers.

Handling prescriptions: It is your duty as a pharmacy assistant to receive prescriptions from the patients and send to the pharmacist, take necessary actions like verification of information, typing, and printing labels.

Product supplies: The pharmacy assistant is to handle any incoming supplies and shipment. The package is to be kept on the shelf with price tag and owner’s name.

Dispensation of prescriptions: Pharmacy assistants help pharmacists to dispense prescriptions.

Records update: Pharmacy aids keep records of laboratory, pharmacy, clinic, hospital, and drugstore or chemist shop up to date, depending on the department where they work.

Charges: Charging for some services like x-ray or body diagnosis is done by pharmacy aides. They know how much it costs to get a particular therapy, so they render the service and keep record of the money.

Salary for pharmacy assistants

The salary base of pharmacy assistants differ depending on experience, qualification, the employer, initial agreement, potential, and the state of residence.

Medicine stores in some local communities cannot pay as high as established hospitals or clinics can. And sometimes individuals may accept low salaries for an opportunity to learn the job and gain some experience to boost their resumes.

Therefore, there is no specific salary base for the pharmacy assistant job.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated the annual salary for pharmacy assistants in May 2011 to be approximately $23,350 and hourly rate of $11.23.


If you love the idea of working with a pharmacist, becoming a pharmacy assistant or aide might be the right way to go. However, you need to learn as much as you can about the job and how to become one.

The information provided in this post will greatly increase your knowledge about the pharmacy assistant occupation.

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