Job opportunities are expected to be good for full-time and
part-time work, especially for those with related work experience.
Many pharmacy aides work evenings, weekends, and holidays.
About 80 percent work in retail pharmacies, grocery stores,
department stores, or mass retailers.
Nature of the Work
Pharmacy aides help licensed pharmacists with administrative
duties in running a pharmacy. Aides often are clerks or cashiers
who primarily answer telephones, handle money, stock shelves,
and perform other clerical duties. They work closely with pharmacy
technicians. Pharmacy technicians usually perform more
complex tasks than do aides, although in some States the duties
and titles of the jobs overlap. Aides refer any questions regarding
prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist.
Aides have several important duties that help the pharmacy to
function smoothly. They may establish and maintain patient profiles,
prepare insurance claim forms, and stock and take inventory of
prescription and over-the-counter medications. Accurate recordkeeping
is necessary to help avert dangerous drug interactions. In addition,
because many people have medical insurance to help pay for prescriptions,
it is essential that pharmacy aides correspond efficiently and
correctly with the third-party insurance providers to obtain payment.
Pharmacy aides also maintain inventory and inform the supervisor
of stock needs so that the pharmacy does not run out of the vital
medications that customers need. Some also clean pharmacy equipment,
help with the maintenance of equipment and supplies, and manage
the cash register.
Pharmacy aides work in clean, organized, well-lighted, and well-ventilated
areas. Most of their workday is spent on their feet. They may
be required to lift heavy boxes or to use stepladders to retrieve
supplies from high shelves.
Aides work the same hours that pharmacists work. These include
evenings, nights, weekends, and some holidays, particularly in
facilities, such as hospitals and retail pharmacies that are open
24 hours a day. There are many opportunities for part-time work
in both retail and hospital settings.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Most pharmacy aides receive informal on-the-job training, but
employers favor those with at least a high school diploma. Prospective
pharmacy aides with experience working as cashiers may have an
advantage when applying for jobs. Employers also prefer applicants
with strong customer service and communication skills, experience
managing inventories, and experience using computers. Aides entering
the field need strong spelling, reading, and mathematics skills.
Successful pharmacy aides are organized, dedicated, friendly,
and responsible. They should be willing and able to take directions.
Candidates interested in becoming pharmacy aides cannot have prior
records of drug or substance abuse. Strong interpersonal and communication
skills are needed because pharmacy aides interact daily with patients,
coworkers, and health care professionals. Teamwork is very important
because aides are often required to work with technicians and
Pharmacy aides almost always are trained on the job. They may
begin by observing a more experienced worker. After they become
familiar with the store’s equipment, policies, and procedures,
they begin to work on their own. Once they become experienced,
aides are not likely to receive additional training, except when
new equipment is introduced or when policies or procedures change.
To become a pharmacy aide, one should be able to perform repetitive
work accurately. Aides need good basic mathematics skills and
good manual dexterity. Pharmacy aides should be neat in appearance
and able to deal pleasantly and tactfully with customers. Some
employers may prefer people with experience typing, handling money,
or operating specialized equipment, including computers.
Advancement usually is limited, although some aides may decide
to become pharmacy technicians or to enroll in pharmacy school
to become pharmacists.
Pharmacy aides held about 50,000 jobs in 2004. About 80 percent
work in retail pharmacies either independently owned or part of
a drug store chain, grocery store, department store, or mass retailer;
the vast majority of these are in drug stores. About 10 percent
work in hospitals, and the rest work in mail-order pharmacies,
clinics, and pharmaceutical wholesalers.
Job opportunities for full-time and part-time work are expected
to be good, especially for aides with related work experience
in pharmacies or as cashiers or stock clerks in other retail settings.
Job openings will be created by employment growth and by the need
to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave
the labor force.
Employment of pharmacy aides is expected to grow about as fast
as the average for all occupations through 2014 because of the
increasing use of medication in treating patients. In addition,
a greater number of middle-aged and elderly people—who use more
prescription drugs than younger people—will spur demand for aides
in all practice settings.
Cost-conscious insurers, pharmacies, and health systems will
continue to employ aides. As a result, pharmacy aides will assume
some responsibility for routine tasks previously performed by
pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, thereby giving pharmacists
more time to interact with patients and technicians more time
to prepare medications. Employment of pharmacy aides will not
grow as fast as employment of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians,
however, because of legal limitations regarding aides’ duties.
Many smaller pharmacies that can afford only a small staff will
favor pharmacy technicians because of their more extensive training
and job skills.
Median hourly wage and salary earnings of pharmacy aides were
$8.86 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.39
and $10.96; the lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.34, and
the highest 10 percent earned more than $13.79. In May 2004, median
hourly earnings of pharmacy aides were $8.29 in health and personal
care stores and $9.80 in grocery stores.
The work of pharmacy aides is closely related to that of pharmacy
technicians, cashiers, and stock clerks and order fillers. Workers
in other medical support occupations include dental assistants,
licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, medical transcriptionists,
medical records and health information technicians, occupational
therapist assistants and aides, physical therapist assistants
and aides, and surgical technologists
Sources of Additional Information
For information on employment opportunities, contact local employers
or local offices of the State employment service
Source: Bureau of Labor
Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook
Handbook, 2006-07 Edition