Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Technician – 4 Basic Facts

Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Technician

Looking for information on Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Technician? Well, the short answer is, Pharmacy technicians have more clinical responsibilities than pharmacy assistants while Pharmacy assistants have more administrative responsibilities than pharmacy technicians.

Discover the crucial differences in pharmacy technician questions in our featured article: Pharmacy Technician Questions: 9 Important Differences

Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Technician: Key Differences Explained

Pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants play important roles in pharmacies and other healthcare settings. However, there are some key differences between these two positions. This article will explain the differences between pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants in terms of education and training requirements, duties and responsibilities, certification and licensing, and salary and job outlook.

Education and Training Requirements

The education and training requirements for pharmacy assistant vs pharmacy technician show some of the main differences between the occupations.

Pharmacy technicians require more extensive education and training than pharmacy assistants. An associate degree or certificate from an accredited pharmacy technician training program is usually required to work as a pharmacy technician. These programs teach pharmacy laws, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy recordkeeping, pharmacology, and pharmacy techniques and equipment. Pharmacy technician training programs are typically 1-2 years in length. Some technicians get training on the job, but formal education is increasingly required.

In comparison, pharmacy assistants usually only require a high school diploma or equivalent. While pharmacy assistants can receive on-the-job training specific to their workplace, there are no legal education requirements to work in this role like there are for pharmacy technicians.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of pharmacy technicians will grow 12% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

— Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Technician

Roles and Responsibilities

The typical day-to-day duties and responsibilities of pharmacy technicians also differ from those of pharmacy assistants.

Pharmacy technicians have more clinical and technical pharmacy responsibilities. Common pharmacy technician duties include:

  • Receiving prescription requests and verifying patient information
  • Entering prescription information into the pharmacy system
  • Preparing medications under the supervision of a pharmacist
  • Assisting pharmacists in compounding medications
  • Communicating with patients and providing medication instructions
  • Coordinating refills and inventory management
  • Maintaining patient records in pharmacy computer systems

Meanwhile, pharmacy assistants handle more administrative and clerical tasks in a pharmacy. Common duties of a pharmacy assistant include:

  • Greeting customers and directing them within the pharmacy
  • Answering phones and handling billing questions
  • Processing payments and insurance claims
  • Maintaining pharmacy equipment and facilities
  • Assisting with pharmacy inventory and stocking shelves
  • Preparing documents, labels, and patient information leaflets

Pharmacy assistants support the pharmacy by handling the non-technical administrative work, while pharmacy techs take on more hands-on pharmacy work alongside the pharmacists.

The BLS does not project specific growth for pharmacy assistants. However, the demand for pharmacy assistants is expected to be similar to the demand for pharmacy technicians, as both occupations play important roles in the healthcare system.

— Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Technician

Certification and Licensing

Pharmacy assistant vs pharmacy technician also differ in terms of required certification and licensure.

Pharmacy technicians often must become certified to practice, such as through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board’s PTCB Exam. Some states also require pharmacy technicians to be licensed or registered with the state’s Board of Pharmacy. These requirements ensure pharmacy techs are properly qualified to take on clinical pharmacy responsibilities.

Meanwhile, there are no legal certification or licensure requirements for pharmacy assistants. Voluntary certification programs for pharmacy assistants are available, such as through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, but not required. The administrative focus of pharmacy assistant duties means mandated qualifications are not deemed necessary.

Pharmacy assistants can pursue additional education, training, and certification to become pharmacy technicians.

— Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Technician

Salary and Job Outlook

The salaries and job outlooks for pharmacy assistant vs pharmacy technician reveal some overarching trends:

Pharmacy technicians generally earn more than pharmacy assistants. The median annual wage for pharmacy technicians in 2020 was $35,250 versus $31,750 for pharmacy assistants (BLS). The advanced qualifications and clinical pharmacy technician duties account for the higher average pay.

Both occupations are projected to see robust job growth in the coming years. Employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow 8% from 2020 to 2030, while jobs for pharmacy aides will grow 11% over the decade (BLS). The growing pharmaceutical industry and aging population needing prescriptions will drive demand for both support roles.

In summary, while pharmacy assistants and technicians both provide crucial assistance in pharmacies, technicians undertake more advanced clinical and technical roles. The education requirements, duties, licensing, and salaries reflect the enhanced responsibilities of a pharmacy technician compared to a pharmacy assistant. Understanding these key differences helps explain the unique value of each pharmacy support position.

A pharmacy assistant supports the operations of a pharmacy by performing administrative tasks, while a pharmacy technician focuses on technical aspects such as medication preparation and patient care.

— Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Technician – Key Facts

CategoryPharmacy TechnicianPharmacy Assistant
DutiesPrepare and dispense medications, compound medications, verify prescriptions, order and manage inventory, process insurance claims, provide customer serviceAnswer phones, process paperwork, stock shelves, maintain patient records, help with data entry
Education and LicensureMust complete a formal education program and pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)May have some formal education or training, but not required
SalaryMedian annual salary: $34,030Median annual salary:$28,200
Job OutlookProjected 12% growth from 2020 to 2030No specific growth projected

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about pharmacy assistant vs pharmacy technician:

Can a pharmacy assistant become a pharmacy technician?

Yes, pharmacy assistants can become pharmacy technicians by completing a pharmacy technician training program and earning certification. Some additional on-the-job training may also help a pharmacy assistant transition into the more advanced pharmacy technician role.

Do pharmacy assistants need to be certified?

No, there are currently no legal requirements for a pharmacy assistant to become certified. Certification is optional for pharmacy assistants. Pharmacy technician certification is required in many states and strongly encouraged for all pharmacy technicians.

What’s the difference in pay between pharmacy technicians and assistants?

On average, pharmacy technicians earn more than pharmacy assistants. The BLS reports median annual pay of $35,250 for pharmacy technicians compared to $31,750 for pharmacy assistants. The advanced expertise and clinical duties of a pharmacy tech justify the slightly higher typical salaries.

Can a pharmacy technician perform the duties of a pharmacy assistant?

Yes, a pharmacy technician is qualified to perform the clerical and administrative duties of a pharmacy assistant in addition to their regular technical pharmacy responsibilities. The reverse is not necessarily true – pharmacy assistants lack the training to take on the clinical and technical duties reserved for pharmacy techs.

Which job has better growth opportunities – pharmacy technician or assistant?

Both occupations are projected to see strong job growth in the next decade. However, pharmacy technician roles require more advanced expertise and education, which may provide more long-term career advancement opportunities within healthcare settings. The clinical focus of pharmacy technician duties also lends itself well to pursuing more advanced healthcare roles.

Hopefully the above article answers your question about “Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Technician”.


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