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Pharmacy career in the United States

Pharmacy aides - Jobs, education and career

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 wholesalers.

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 skills.

Pharmacy aides work with the following professionals:

  • Pharmacists
  • Pharmacy technicians
  • Pharmacy assistants

In some rare cases they work with the following professionals also:

  • Biological scientists
  • Medical scientists
  • Chemists and
  • Materials scientists.

Information for Pharmacists

Information for Pharmacy Technicians

Information for Pharmacy Aides

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