Pharmacy aides work assisting licensed pharmacists in dispensing prescriptions. Online pharmacy assistant programs prepare students to directly enter the workforce. Classes commonly include medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmacology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy law and ethics, insurance and inventory procedures, and customer relations. Some courses in business basics may also be included. Jobs are typically found in a retail setting, but some openings may also be found with hospitals and clinics.
Types of Pharmacy Assistance Certificates
For students interested in an online pharmacy assistant certificate there are a number of options since allied health care programs are a very popular distance learning option. Classes in pharmacology, medical terminology, pharmaceutical measurements, business mathematics, and customer service all help to prepare students for their clinical rotations. Some states do require certification, but it is important to check with your state’s pharmacy board for specifics. A few common admissions criteria for this type of program are listed below:
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Transcript or GED test scores
- Application form and fee
In most cases, a certificate program in pharmacy assistance takes six months to a year to complete. However, keep in mind, the specific number of courses required, how many you take at once, and whether or not you take any breaks from the program will all influence the estimated time to completion. Online students will benefit from the flexibility of an asynchronous learning environment. This means students are not restricted by scheduled class times; rather, they can enter the virtual classroom, complete assignments, participate in discussion boards, review course materials, and read instructor feedback around their own schedule. Clinical rotations may also be included in the program, but can be arranged in your local area. In some instances, this final training step will be received on the job.
What’s Next for Certificate Holders?
Following the completion of an online certificate program, students may need to obtain certification depending on their specific state requirements. Employers may assist graduates in paying for the certification exam if required. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the National Healthcareer Association are the two organizations that offer certification. Job prospects for pharmacy assistants are expected to remain strong. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the demand for trained professionals in this field will grow by 32% from 2010 to 2020. This is more than double the 14% growth expected for jobs overall.
The mean annual wage reported for pharmacy aides in 2012 was $23,460. The most jobs were found with health and personal care stores, grocery stores, and general medical and surgical hospitals. Please note, these statistics may not reflect actual job openings or starting pay in your area. In addition, other factors, such as level of experience, the general job climate, and the specific employer will influence this.