Pharmacy Assistant Education and Career Pathway

By | April 11, 2024
Pharmacy Assistant Education
To become a pharmacy assistant you will have to fulfill certain educational requirements.

This post provides detailed information on the pharmacy assistant education and career pathway, including the educational requirements you would need to fulfill to become a pharmacy assistant, and how you can have a successful career.

Why Choose Pharmacy Assistant Career?

The pharmacy assistant career path has many benefits for individuals interested in pursuing this career. These include:

  1. A pharmacist assistant can expect to make between $16 and $21 per hour depending on their experience level.

2. In addition, they are able to work part time while attending school making it easier to balance both jobs and education.

3. They have the opportunity to earn up to $30,000 annually as a starting salary.

4. There are plenty of opportunities available in this job market.

5. It is possible to advance quickly within the profession.

6. The average age of entry into this career is 25 years old.

7. Many people find that working in a pharmacy provides them with a great sense of community and camaraderie.

Pharmacy Assistant Education Requirements

In order to become a pharmacy assistant you must first obtain an Associate’s degree in applied science from a two year college or technical school. You should also complete one year of training in the following areas:

  • Basic Anatomy & Physiology
  • Drug Dosage Calculations
  • Medication Reconciliation
  • Patient Counseling Skills
  • First Aid.

Pharmacy Assistant Continuing Education

Continuing education is required for all pharmacy assistants. Depending on your state, continuing education requirements may vary.

However, most states require that pharmacy assistants take courses such as:

  • Prescription Writing
  • Pharmacy Law
  • Ethics
  • Medical Terminology
  • Pharmacology
  • Dispensing Procedures
  • Computer Applications.

Pharmacy Assistant Certification/License

Depending on where you live, obtaining a license to practice pharmacy may be mandatory. If you plan to work in a pharmacy without a license, you should contact your local licensing board and inquire about the process involved.

Many states require that pharmacy assistants receive certification before being allowed to dispense prescriptions.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) offers different types of certifications including:

  • Certified Pharmacy
  • Certified Pharmacy Technician
  • Certified Pharmacy Manager
  • Registered Pharmacy Technician.

Pharmacy Assistant Career Opportunities

There various career opportunities available to pharmacy assistants, including:

  1. Retail Pharmacy Assistant

A retail pharmacy assistant works under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist who is responsible for overseeing the entire operation of the retail pharmacy.

Their duties include assisting customers with medication questions, checking prescription orders for accuracy, preparing labels, filling prescriptions, stocking shelves, answering phones, and performing other tasks as needed.

2. Hospital Pharmacy Assistant

A hospital pharmacy assistant works under the direction of a registered pharmacist.

They assist patients with any medication related concerns and perform routine tasks like counting pills, labeling medications, and maintaining drug inventory.

3. Community Health Center Pharmacy Assistant

Community health centers provide services to underserved populations. A community health center pharmacy assistant works under the supervision of a registered pharmacist who oversees the day-to-day operations of the facility.

The responsibilities of a community health center pharmacy assistant include helping patients understand their medical conditions and ensuring that they have access to quality healthcare.

4. Home Care Pharmacy Assistant

Home care pharmacies offer services to individuals living at home. These pharmacies can either hire an independent contractor or contract directly with a physician to fill prescriptions.

A home care pharmacy assistant works under the guidance of a pharmacist who provides oversight of the pharmacy’s daily activities.

5. Outpatient Clinic Pharmacy Assistant

Outpatient clinics provide services to patients who come into the clinic for treatment.

An outpatient clinic pharmacy assistant works under the close supervision of a pharmacist who oversees the entire operation of the pharmacy.

Their duties include providing patient counseling, verifying insurance coverage, and processing payments.

Others include:

  • Long Term Care Facility Pharmacy Assistant
  • Medical Office Pharmacy Assistant
  • Drugstore Assistant
  • Research & Development Assistant
  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
  • Clinical Trials Coordinator
  • Quality Assurance Specialist.

How to Advance your Pharmacy Assistant Career

Here are key ideas to help you advance your career in the field of pharmacy:

  1. Become familiar with the latest trends in pharmacy technology.

Technology has changed the way pharmacists do business today. For example, many pharmacies now use computerized dispensing systems to track inventory and monitor sales.

2. Take advantage of opportunities to learn new skills.

Many employers will pay for continuing education credits if you take classes that qualify you for additional certifications or licenses.

3. Be proactive about your professional development.

You should be aware of what training programs are available in your area so that you can pursue them when appropriate.

4. Network with professionals in your industry.

Find out where they work and how they got there. Learn from others’ experiences and ask for advice on how to improve your job performance.

5. Stay current by reading trade journals and magazines.

These publications contain information about employment trends, new products, and advances in the pharmaceutical industry.

How to find a Good Pharmacy Assistant School

Consider these factors if you are looking for a good school to train as a pharmacy assistant:

  1. Select a program that offers hands-on experience.

Most pharmacy assistants start off working as student interns before being hired full time. Look for schools that focus on practical skills such as customer service and problem solving.

2. Consider taking courses online.

Online programs may be less expensive than traditional classroom settings.

3. Choose a school that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

ACPE accredits more than 1,000 colleges and universities around the world.

The council evaluates institutions based on their adherence to standards set forth by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

4. Check references.

Ask former students to share their opinions of the school. Also, you can contact the school’s placement office to find out how well graduates fare after graduation.

5. Research the reputation of the faculty members at the prospective school.

Faculty members must have strong academic credentials and experience. They also need to be able to teach students the basics of the profession.

6. Make sure the curriculum includes both theory and practice.

It’s important to get an understanding of the basic principles of pharmacy while learning how to apply those principles in real life situations.

How to be Successful in your Pharmacy Assistant Career

Here are some ways you can become successful in your pharmacy assistant career:

  1. Follow up regularly.

Keep in touch with your employer and fellow employees. If you’re not satisfied with your position, let them know right away.

2. Always look for ways to improve yourself.

Attend seminars and conferences offered through local chapters of professional associations.

Read books and articles on leadership, management, communication, and other topics related to your profession.

3. Get involved in your community.

Volunteer to help people who are ill or injured. You can also be part of charitable events that your employer sponsored.

4. Become familiar with all aspects of your job.

Know the names of every person in your department. Understand the policies and procedures of your workplace.

5. Take advantage of opportunities to learn.

Accept invitations to attend training sessions held by your employer. You can also join professional organizations related to your career and attend their meetings.

6. Be honest and ethical.

Do what you say you will do. Act professionally at all times.

What Does a Pharmacy Assistant Do?

A pharmacist prescribes medications for patients. A pharmacy assistant helps prepare prescriptions.

Here are some examples of tasks performed by pharmacy assistants:

  • Answer telephone calls from customers.
  • Collect prescription orders from physicians’ offices.
  • Verify patient information before dispensing medication.
  • Fill prescriptions according to physician instructions.
  • Prepare labels for prescriptions.
  • Count pills and place them in containers.
  • Label bottles and packages.
  • Sort and organize medications.

Qualities of a Good Pharmacy Assistant

Here are some qualities a good pharmacy assistant should have:

  1. Knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology.

The ability to communicate effectively with physicians, pharmacists, nurses, technicians, and other healthcare workers is important for a pharmacy assistant to have.

2. Ability to work independently.

Pharmacy assistants should have the ability to think critically and solve problems without assistance.

3. Ability to follow directions.

The capability to complete everyday duties correctly and effectively is another quality a pharmacy assistant should possess.

4. Ability to maintain confidentiality.

Pharmacy assistants should have respect for privacy and personal space.

5. Ability to work under pressure.

The ability to meet deadlines and respond quickly to changing circumstances is also a quality pharmacy assistants should possess.

6. Ability to handle stress.

To be successful in their careers, pharmacy assistants should possess the ability to stay calm amid stressful times. 

Pharmacy Assistant Salary

According to Glassdoor, the national average compensation for a pharmacy assistant in the United States is $33,677 per year. 

Pharmacy Assistant Job Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to expand at a 4% annual rate from 2020 to 2030.

This is a slower growth compared to the national average for all occupations.


In this guide, we learned about the career path for a pharmacy assistant, including the educational requirements individuals must fulfill to become a pharmacy assistant.

It has also helped you understand what the pharmacy assistant career entails and how to advance and succeed in it.