How do I Become a Pharmacy Assistant?

Patrick Roland

A pharmacy assistant is a crucial member of any functional pharmacy. As the pharmacists and technicians deal directly with prescriptions and customers, you will be doing many foundational jobs to ensure that they can perform those duties well. In addition, a pharmacy assistant job usually requires no special education or training. This job incorporates many administrative and customer service duties that are important to the success of a pharmacy.

A pharmacy assistant properly sorts and stores medication.
A pharmacy assistant properly sorts and stores medication.

One of the appealing factors of the pharmacy assistant career is its ability to help you get involved with pharmacies from the ground level. Most require only a high school diploma to begin working. Math, chemistry and foreign language classes are all helpful in this role and should be focused on during school. Another benefit to this job is that it acts as a springboard for a career as a registered pharmacy assistant or pharmacy technician or even provides an opportunity to learn the business before attending pharmacy school.

For safety reasons, pharmacy assistants must understand medical labeling and coding procedures.
For safety reasons, pharmacy assistants must understand medical labeling and coding procedures.

A pharmacy assistant has many duties that help make the jobs of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians easier. If you want to become a pharmacy assistant, you should know that one of your biggest jobs will be receiving pharmaceutical shipments, properly sorting them and placing them in the correct storage space. Records management is another important job, requiring you to update customer files and frequently to retrieve them for the pharmacist to consult. Pharmacy assistant duties also require you to field phone calls, usually from patients renewing prescriptions. In addition to these administrative jobs, you also will be called upon to work the cash register and handle money and credit card payments by customers.

Performing these important duties means you must have a strong skill set in order to be a successful pharmacy assistant. Organization and self-motivation are crucial because you will be expected to stock pharmaceuticals accurately and keep records with little or no supervision. Communication is another important skill to possess in this job, because you will have to work with coworkers and customers. Stress management also is crucial, because pharmacies get very busy, and your time frequently will be pushed to the limit.

A pharmacy assistant can find work in a variety of places. You might work in a hospital pharmacy or a customer-based pharmacy. A hospital can provide a faster-paced work environment but little contact with patients, because you will be receiving orders from all over the hospital. In a pharmacy like that in a drugstore, you will have more customer interaction and a slower pace.

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