The Scoop on Pharmacy Aides

The retail pharmacy is not just a place where an old guy in a white lab coat fills prescriptions and trains an intern on his spare time.

No, the retail Pharmacy is a place where every hand is needed on deck to make sure patients are getting the attention they need, prescriptions are filled correctly, and the Pharmacists can focus on the very complex tasks that are set before them. Even though Pharmacists already have Pharmacy Technicians, sometimes more help is needed. Being a Pharmacy Aide is the kind of job where you can see the inner-workings of a Pharmacy, support a professional, and help patients all at the same time. As more prescription drugs are developed and the aging population requires more medicine, pharmacies will become busier and busier. The Pharmacist and Pharmacy Techs will need Pharmacy Aides to help them keep up with the work. Now is the time to get on the ship before it leaves the port!

What in the World Does a Pharmacy Aide Do?

If you've ever seen the movie "Clue" you remember Tim Curry telling the guests he "keeps things tidy." Well, Pharmacy Aides keep things tidy in a Pharmacy. No, that doesn't mean you're a housekeeper, but it does mean that you are "keeping house" for the Pharmacist and Pharmacy Techs.

You would work closely with Pharmacy Techs and the Pharmacist to make sure the phone gets answered, shelves stocked, insurance issues solved, billing questions answered, and Doctor's offices contacted in a timely manner. You do all of the clerical and administrative work you can so that the Pharmacy Techs and Pharmacist can count, mix and fill prescriptions correctly. In addition, only the Pharmacist answers the patient's questions about the prescription.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

No formal training programs exist for Pharmacy Aides, and that means that you would receive on the job training. However, employers usually want you to have a High School Diploma and experience working with computers. Because you would be doing a lot of administrative work, it would also be helpful if you were comfortable handling inventories and things of the sort.

With experience, you can get additional training from your employer or you might want to go to school to become a Pharmacy Technician. Becoming a Pharmacist will take longer, but you can aim for that, too.

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

82% of Pharmacy Aides are employed at retail pharmacies, but those are not the only places where you can find work. Large hospitals and health clinics also have in-house Pharmacies and will need Pharmacy Aides as well.

Because you work alongside the Pharmacist, you would work their same hours, and, since some Pharmacies are open 24 hours, you would be able to work your job around your life, school, and schedule.

Advancement usually means that you are getting more training from your employer or you are going back to school to become a Pharmacy Tech or Pharmacist. This is a great entry-level job if you are in school or if you trying to get into supervision. If you were working for a retail Pharmacy and you enjoyed the retail experience, you may want to train to become a Store Manager. This would take you out of the medical field, but it would be a step up into a promising, diversified career, if you didn't want to spend all your time behind the Pharmacy counter.

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Pharmacy Aides Overview

Pharmacy Aide Salary:$20,100
Job Prospects:B
Education after high school:0 years
# Employed in US:53,190
% Who work Part Time:23%
Physical Difficulty:+ + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+
Emotional Difficulty:+ + + +

The Pros of being a Pharmacy Aide

  • No formal training is required
  • You can work all sorts of hours
  • You can advance into supervision and management if you want

The Cons of being a Pharmacy Aide

  • You do all the grunt work in the Pharmacy
  • You spend a lot of time on your feet
  • You would need a lot more schooling to advance in the pharmaceutical field

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