Pharmacist Assistant Education Requirements and Career Info

Pharmacist assistants require some knowledge or formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and employment outlook to see if it is the right choice for you.

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Essential Information

A pharmacist assistant, also known as a pharmacy technician, provides administrative support and non-medical customer service in retail pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. Pharmacist assistants usually get training on the job. A high school diploma is usually required for employment; post-secondary education is an option through pharmacist assistant or pharmacy technology certificate programs at 2-year colleges or vocational schools.

Required Education High school diploma and on-the-job training OR completion of a pharmacy assistant certificate program
Projected Job Growth 20% for all pharmacy technicians from 2012-2022*
Median Annual Salary (May 2013) $29,650 for all pharmacy technicians*

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements for a Pharmacist Assistant

A pharmacist assistant doesn't need to be certified to find entry-level employment. On-the-job training teaches customer service and clerical skills for supporting retail and clinical pharmacists. Most states require pharmacist assistants to have a high school diploma, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). An assistant must have a good grasp of mathematics, which may be found in high school math courses or taught in a certificate program.

Certificate Program

A pharmacist assistant certificate program focuses on mathematics, anatomy and physiology, computer applications and the principles and ethics of the pharmaceutical field. Students participate in a practicum to acquire hands-on training in the field. Students must submit the results of a TB skin test and pass a background check before being allowed to participate in the practicum. Some schools require certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Career Info

A pharmacist assistant handles many of the customer service and clerical tasks at a pharmacy, allowing pharmacists to address medical concerns and dispense prescriptions. An assistant must have good record-keeping skills and the ability to communicate effectively with customers who may be in a stressful situation. Some pharmacist assistants may track inventory stock shelves. An assistant must have the ability to use cash registers and make transactions.

Employment for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 20% over the 2012-2022 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which attributes job openings to more advanced medicine being used to fight diseases and an elderly population that is living longer and requiring more pharmaceuticals to maintain health longer. Advances in medicine leading to new medications are also expected to drive industry growth and increase the need for pharmacist assistants. Pharmacist assistants earned a median hourly rate of $14.25 as of May 2013, according to the BLS.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics