Depending on state regulations, most pharmacy aides only need a high school diploma or GED to work in a pharmacy, while pharmacy technicians are often required to attend a certificate or associate's degree program. This must include coursework in algebra as well as speech and English composition. Some programs require human relationship training that includes courses in communications, courses in the social sciences, or work-related interactions.
Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of places, including hospitals, drug stores, nursing homes, retail outlets and medical centers. Under the supervision of a pharmacist, they assist customers, maintain patient records, supervise pharmacy aides and manage stock. In some states, they fill prescriptions, but the pharmacist must check the prescription before the patient receives it. Students learn how to perform these health care duties correctly and safely in a pharmacy technician associate's degree program.
Pharmacist Assistant Degree Programs
The coursework for pharmacy technician degree programs may be set according to state requirements. Classes focus heavily on medical terminology, bookkeeping skills and pharmaceutical practices. Coursework may include the following:
- Medical terminology
- Pharmacy law
- Medical records management
- Dosage calculations
- Pharmacy internship
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov, employment opportunities for pharmacy technicians were expected to grow significantly due to the aging of the general population. Positions were predicted to rise by 9% between 2014 and 2024, faster than average for all jobs. In May 2015, the BLS reported that the mean annual income of pharmacy technicians was $31,680. Those technicians who worked at hospitals earned $36,560 per year, on average. The BLS does not provide data for pharmacy aides.
Continuing Education Information
Many pharmacy technicians use their associate degrees and work experience to enter a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program to become licensed pharmacists. The majority of pharmacist programs require students to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test and additional undergraduate coursework in areas such as biology and chemistry. After becoming a pharmacist, students can continue their education in residency programs or in postgraduate courses, which are often necessary for entering the field of pharmaceutical research.
The responsibility of pharmacy aides or technicians may vary according to what the state permits. Coursework for associate degrees and certificates focuses on medical terminology, bookkeeping, and common pharmaceutical practices.