Education of pharmacy aides
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 pharmacists.
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.
Employment of pharmacy aides
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
Future outlook of pharmacy aides
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
Pharmacy aides work with the following
- Pharmacy technicians
- Pharmacy assistants
In some rare cases they work with the following
- Biological scientists
- Medical scientists
- Chemists and
- Materials scientists.