This post presents exhaustive information on the pharmacy assistant job description and career, to help you learn the duties, tasks, and responsibilities they perform.
It also helps you to know how to become a pharmacy assistant, the requirements you need to meet to be hired for the job, and the salary pharmacy assistants earn.
You will also learn the various careers you can explore with a pharmacy assistant background.
Please, read on:
What Does a Pharmacy Assistant Do?
The pharmacy assistant is an important member of the healthcare community whose job description focuses on assisting pharmacists in customer service and administrative roles.
From performing inventory control to merchandising, purchasing medications and record keeping, the job duties are not streamlined.
Pharmacy assistants are called upon to accept payment for prescriptions, answer the telephone, stock shelves, price stock, and mark items for sale and also prepare and reconcile third party insurance records and claims.
As with pharmacy technicians and pharmacists, pharmacy assistants work in hospitals and community pharmacies, medical centers, clinics, health care facilities, educational institutions, pharmaceutical laboratories and the federal government.
Keyboarding skills cum computer literacy are essential to the job, so also are a caring attitude toward others, excellent written and oral communication, the ability to handle emergencies and remain calm, good manual dexterity and ability to pay close attention to detail.
Also important are detail orientation and organizational skills.
In some cases, pharmacy assistants and pharmacy technicians have overlapping duties, but in general the tasks and responsibilities of technicians include weighing and mixing medications, counting tablets, while assistants on the other hand handle the clerical work.
However, where a technician answers a patient’s direct question, an assistant would always direct drug-related questions or prescription to the pharmacist.
Pharmacy aids or assistants help with the smooth running of the pharmacy by handling several of the administrative tasks. They work with technicians and pharmacists, though they have fewer responsibilities.
You can become a pharmacy assistant with only a GED or a high school diploma, but you must have customer service and administrative skills as well.
Pharmacy assistants welcome and greet customers and clients as they enter the pharmacy. They get information from customers, accept prescriptions and prepare the paperwork for the staff pharmacist to fill in the medication.
They help customers locate medical supplies and over-the-counter medications. Managing the cash register and accepting payments from customers are some of the other duties of the pharmacy assistants’ job description.
They will also redirect calls and answer the phone in the pharmacy as needed.
Pharmacy assistants accept shipments of supplies and medication, they unpack and store inventory and make sure it is handled properly.
For instance, some medication may need to be refrigerated or some other special handling. They maintain stock in front of the store so that customers can easily find the supplies they need.
Pharmacy Assistant Job Description Example/Sample/Template
The job description example shown below is for the pharmacy assistant, who is usually expected to perform the tasks, duties, and responsibilities provided in support of the pharmacist in most firms:
- Check for expired medications
- Notify the pharmacist when stock is low
- Take in and handle out prescriptions
- Dispense prescriptions
- Use store’s computer systems to generate label and stock lists
- Help in maintaining reasonable dispensary stock levels
- Order items for use within and outside department
- Receive, load and unload incoming goods from manufacturers, wholesalers and elsewhere
- Deliver pharmaceuticals goods to sites within a pharmacy department and clinical areas/wards/departments
- Sell over the counter medicines
- Answer queries on the availability and supply of medicines
- Respond to face to face and telephone enquiries of a routine nature from members of the public, patients, their representatives and a wide range of staff groups
- Pre-pack, assemble and label medicines
- Create and maintain patient profiles
- Prepare insurance claim forms
- Manage the cash register.
Pharmacy Assistant Job Description for Resume
Resumes are important documents for searching for job. The job description sample shown above can be used in preparing the professional history section of the pharmacy assistant resume.
Pharmacy Assistant Requirements: Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities for Career Success
Below are requirements, including knowledge, skills, and abilities, most employers expect from pharmacy assistants they want to hire:
- Related experience in a hospital, retail, or home health pharmacy
- High school diploma or its equivalent, GED
- Strong ability to meet production and quality standard as specified by supervisor, manager or pharmacist
- Strong ability to correctly read and interpret prescription terminology and medications
- Good communication skills
- Ability to carry out orders as instructed
- Ability to pay attention to detail and communicate effectively with customers on the telephone
- Strong keyboarding skills required for performing fast and correct data entry tasks
- Manual dexterity, PC, and basic math skills
- Strong knowledge of widely used generic drugs and their route of administration, as well as the ability to understand and interpret Latin signs and symbols usually found on drug labels.
Pharmacy Assistant Salary
The average salary of a pharmacy assistant is $47,161 per year in the United States.
The best paying cities include Seattle, WA, $53,103; Los Angeles, CA, $51,890; Chicago, IL, $51,260; Redmond, WA, $51,173; and Brooklyn, NY, $49,475.
There are currently over 400,010 pharmacist assistants working in the United States.
Women make up 72.3% of all pharmacist assistants, while men make up 27.7%.
An employed pharmacist assistant is 37 years old on average.
White pharmacist assistants are the most common ethnicity (50.7%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (21.3%), Asian (13.0%), and Black or African American (10.7%).
Women earned 96% of what men earned in 2021.
Pharmacy Assistant Career Opportunities
There are different career opportunities accessible to a pharmacy assistant; these include:
- Pharmacy Administrator
A pharmacy administrator is a person who is responsible for overseeing the overall operation of a pharmacy.
Their duties include determining anti-counterfeit measures and inventory control, and ensuring that prescription records are kept accurate.
A pharmacy administrator may also be responsible for hiring and training new staff, supervising shifts by staff members, and overseeing the finances of the pharmacy.
2. Senior Pharmacy Technician
A senior pharmacy technician is an experienced pharmacy assistant who has been promoted by a pharmacist.
A senior technician may be responsible for managing the pharmacy and making decisions that affect the work of other pharmacy staff.
3. Pharmacy Manager
A pharmacy manager is responsible for overseeing the operations of a pharmacy.
A manager will generally be involved in hiring new staff and training current staff members, as well as ensuring that all financial aspects of the pharmacy are handled appropriately.
4. Pharmacist Assistant Specialist
A pharmacist assistant specialist is a pharmacist who specializes in solely performing the work of a pharmacy assistant.
A pharmacist assistant specialist may assist with routine procedures, or may perform complex tasks that require special training from a pharmacist.
5. Health Information Technician
A health information technician is a person who uses computer technology to manage the medical records of patients at hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
An information technician gathers, interprets and shares information with healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.
A health information technician may perform different tasks, depending on his or her employment setting.
A pharmacist is a person who dispenses prescription medication for patients at a pharmacy.
A Pharmacist has typically completed many years of schooling to receive this license, and is responsible for ensuring that medications are safe for patients to take and that prescriptions are filled accurately.
7. Medical Assistant
A medical assistant is a person who is trained to take care of patients.
A medical assistant may perform tasks such as taking vital signs, helping with exercises, and assisting with doctor’s appointments.
The duties of a medical assistant may vary, depending on the training they have received.
8. Pharmacy Dispenser
A pharmacy dispenser may assist a pharmacist in dispensing medicine to patients, as well as taking care of inventory and other administrative tasks at a pharmacy.
A pharmacy dispenser may have different titles depending on the exact position they hold.
9. Pharmaceutical Scientist
A pharmaceutical scientist is a person who researches new medicines and treatments for diseases.
A pharmaceutical scientist may work with scientists in other fields to develop treatments, and will often use computer programs to aid in their research.
10. Biochemical Technician
A biochemical technician is responsible for testing blood samples to determine if the patient is suffering from a certain disease or disorder, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis.
A biochemical technician does much of this testing in a hospital lab.
Challenges faced by Pharmacy Assistant on the Job
The most common challenges faced by pharmacy assistants in carrying out their work functions include:
- Constant managing of stock levels and patient demands
As a pharmacy assistant, you must be very good at keeping track of inventory levels and knowing how to best manage them.
Pharmacy assistants are responsible for ensuring that prescriptions are stored safely and are not expired.
They help patients take the medications they might need and give them information about what they will need later.
2. Effectively communicating with patients to ensure they understand medications and drug interactions
As a professional pharmacy assistant, you must possess excellent communication skills.
This is because you will be responsible for communicating with patients and customers.
As an example, let’s say that a patient is suffering from a heart problem or high blood pressure and they are taking medication to control it.
Because of this, they may have interactions with other medications.
The pharmacy assistant must make sure that the patient understands this so that they can avoid any dangerous situations during their day-to-day activities.
3. Dealing with aggressive patients
If you work as a pharmacy assistant in either the retail or hospital setting, you will likely have to deal with aggressive patients.
This means that you should be very good at handling stress and frustration.
In some cases, an aggressive patient will be angry about a situation such as an illness or medical problem that they are suffering from.
You must be able to handle these types of situations carefully and professionally.
How to Become a Pharmacy Assistant
If you are interested in becoming a pharmacy assistant, here are steps you can take:
- Complete your high school education
Most states need a high school education or GED to work as a pharmacy assistant.
On-the-job training under the supervision of a pharmacist provides pharmacy assistants with knowledge and experience.
This training program teaches you clerical and technical skills, as well as how to work effectively with customers.
2. Taking relevant courses
In addition to graduating from high school, taking classes in physiology, mathematics, or anatomy will help you to be recruited as a pharmacy assistant.
The International Career Institute (ICI) offers pharmacy assistant diploma online courses.
The courses allow you to learn from educated and experienced professionals.
3. Developing good communication skills
Dealing with customers is one of the most important jobs of a pharmacy assistant.
It is essential to be able to write and communicate clearly.
It is advantageous to acquire mathematical abilities because you may be required to make calculations to determine the pricing of medications.
4. Acquire experience
A significant benefit of becoming a pharmacy assistant is that, unlike pharmacy technicians, you do not need any certification or special training.
However, experience can improve your chances of landing a pharmacy assistant job.
You can either work at a hospital or a local drugstore to gain the necessary knowledge, or you can work part-time in a pharmacy.
5. Begin your job search
Look for a job as a pharmacy assistant in a pharmaceutical company, hospital, outpatient clinic, or nursing home.
Look for available job postings on a hospital’s website or on the American Pharmacist Association’s website.
You can also let your friends and industry contacts know that you’re looking for a job as a pharmacy assistant.
Friends may be aware of opportunities, and industry contacts can provide helpful advice on how to navigate your job search.
Major Benefits of a Pharmacy Assistant Career
There are many benefits to a career as a pharmacy assistant. These benefits include:
- Flexible working hours
As a pharmacy assistant, you will need to be able to work many different hours of the day as required by your employer.
You will also be required to take some time off for breaks and lunch, which can sometimes be difficult for other positions.
However, as a pharmacy assistant, there are no set hours and it is possible to work anywhere from a few hours to full-time.
2. Competitive salary
The most attractive benefit of working as a pharmacy assistant is that your salary will generally be considerably higher than others in the same industry.
The average salary for a pharmacy technician is $21,000 while a pharmacy assistant’s salary is around $24,000.
This means that there is potential for additional overtime.
3. Learning how to deal with customers and patients
A pharmacy assistant who works with patients will be in contact with them regularly.
This will teach you how to effectively communicate with others and deal with their emotions or reactions.
4. A chance to advance within the company
There is a chance for pharmacy assistants who work for a company for a few years to advance their career by gaining valuable experience and being given the opportunity to work with high-profile people.
Promotion opportunities are usually based on merit and experience.
Other professional roles within the hospital could include wards pharmacy assistant, supply pharmacy assistant or laboratory assistant.
A pharmacy assistant may also consider pursuing advanced degree in pharmacology or become a certified nurse practitioner.
5. A chance to relocate to a different state or country
A pharmacy assistant’s job is extremely versatile; as they can work anywhere in the world provided they have sufficient experience and qualifications.
This flexibility of location also allows them to move if their partner decides to do so.
6. Opportunity for employees to work with physicians, pharmacists, and other health care professionals
A pharmacy assistant will have to work with pharmacists who monitor the progress of patients and dispense medicine according to their prescriptions.
This can provide a pharmacy assistant with valuable experience and knowledge in working with physicians.
7. Opportunity for learning
A pharmacy assistant will have the chance to learn about drugs, diseases, illnesses, and prescription medication.
This is ideal for those who are seeking a career that involves learning but is also suitable for those who are looking for a job that does not involve much responsibility or stress.
There are many benefits of working as a pharmacy assistant; these include gaining valuable knowledge and experience in the health industry.
This post is helpful to individuals interested in the pharmacy assistant career; they can learn all they need to know about what the role entails and the steps to take to become one.
This post is also useful to employers/recruiters who are looking to make a detailed job description for the pharmacy assistant position in their organizations.
They can apply the sample pharmacy assistant job description given above in making one for their companies.