California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Pharmacy Aides in San Diego County

May also be called: Dispensary Attendants; Drug Clerks; Pharmacist Assistants; Pharmacy Clerks; Prescription Clerks

What Would I Do?

Pharmacy Aides help licensed pharmacists with the administrative duties of running a pharmacy. Aides answer telephones, handle money, clean pharmacy equipment, stock shelves, and perform other clerical duties. They maintain patient profiles and must keep accurate records of each patient’s medications to avoid harmful drug interactions. They refer to the on-site pharmacists any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters. They also prepare insurance claim forms. It is crucial that they correspond efficiently and correctly with third-party insurance providers to obtain payment.

Pharmacy Aides take inventory of prescription and over-the-counter medications and inform the pharmacist of stock needs to ensure that the pharmacy has critical medications available to meet customer needs. Some Aides also help with the maintenance of equipment and supplies.

Pharmacy technicians usually perform more complex tasks than do Aides; however, the duties and titles of their jobs often overlap.

Pharmacy Aides operate cash registers, credit card or ATM processing equipment, and multi-line telephone systems. They operate desktop computers, enter data into databases, and use spreadsheet and word processing software. They also use laser printers, label-printing machines, and automatic unit dose strip packaging equipment. Some use laboratory blending or mixing equipment.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Greet customers and help them locate merchandise.Customer and Personal Service
Prepare solid and liquid dosage medications for dispensing into bottles and unit dose packaging.Medicine and Dentistry
Perform clerical tasks such as filing, compiling and maintaining prescription records, and composing letters.Clerical
Prepare prescription labels by typing or operating a computer and printer.Computers and Electronics
Provide customers with information about the uses and effects of drugs.Service Orientation
Answer telephone inquiries, referring callers to pharmacist when necessary.Speaking
Unpack, sort, count and label incoming merchandise, including items requiring special handling or refrigeration.Information Ordering
Operate cash register to process cash and credit sales.Mathematical Reasoning
Receive, store and inventory pharmaceutical supplies, notifying pharmacist when levels are low.Critical Thinking
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Pharmacy Aides typically work in retail or hospital pharmacies that are clean, organized, well-lit, and well-ventilated. They also work in the pharmacies of grocery and department stores. Pharmacy Aides spend most of their workday on their feet. Physical demands may include lifting heavy boxes, moving delivery carts, and using stepladders to retrieve supplies from high shelves.

Aides work the same hours that pharmacists work. A full-time workweek is generally 8-hour days, five days a week, including rotating weekends. Aides may also work evenings, nights, and holidays, particularly in facilities that are open for 24 hours, 7 days a week, such as hospital pharmacies. For some positions, 10-hour shifts are required. Many jobs are part-time or on-call. Pharmacy Aides sometimes work under pressure assisting multiple customers in a timely manner.

Pharmacy Aides may belong to unions representing hospital or grocery store workers.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Pharmacy Aide will appeal to those who enjoy working with people and performing duties that are organized, clearly defined, and require accuracy and attention to detail.

Strong customer service and communication skills are essential, since Pharmacy Aides frequently interact with patients, fellow employees, and other healthcare professionals. Successful Pharmacy Aides are alert, observant, organized, dedicated, and responsible. They should be able to work independently and as part of a team. Aides must also have good judgment, good eyesight, and normal color vision.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages

The median wage in 2015 for Pharmacy Aides in California was $26,170 annually, or $12.58 hourly. The median wage for Pharmacy Aides in San Diego County was $25,832 annually, or $12.42 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2015Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$21,745$26,170$35,571
San Diego County$21,919$25,832$34,395
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2015 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Benefit packages vary among employers and generally include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

High employment growth is expected for Pharmacy Aides. Job opportunities should result from the expansion of retail pharmacies and other employment settings, as well as the increased pharmaceutical needs of a larger, older population. In addition to employment growth, job opportunities for full-time and part-time work are expected as the frequent need to replace workers who leave the occupation will create more opportunities for interested applicants.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Pharmacy Aides is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Pharmacy Aides are expected to increase by 11.1 percent, or 1,000 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

In San Diego County, the number of Pharmacy Aides is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Pharmacy Aides are expected to increase by 20.5 percent, or 150 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Pharmacy Aides
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2012-2022)
9,00010,0001,00011.11,700
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
73088015020.5140
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 100 new job openings per year is expected for Pharmacy Aides, plus an additional 170 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 270 job openings.

In San Diego County, an average of 14 new job openings per year is expected for Pharmacy Aides, plus an additional 14 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 28 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Pharmacy Aides
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2012-2022)
100170270
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
141428
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Pharmacy Aides typically receive informal on-the-job training. Most employers favor those with at least a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Candidates interested in becoming Pharmacy Aides cannot have prior records of drug or substance abuse; therefore, they may be required to pass a criminal background check or obtain a Live Scan fingerprint clearance.

Experience

Applicants with experience working as cashiers may have an advantage when applying for Pharmacy Aide positions. Employers also prefer those with experience managing inventories and using computers.

Early Career Planning

Pharmacy Aides need skills in spelling, reading, mathematic calculations, and computers. Therefore, high school courses in English, keyboarding, mathematics, and computers are extremely beneficial. Foreign language courses are recommended because some employers require bilingual candidates. Students are also encouraged to take science courses, particularly biology and chemistry.

Work Study Programs

California offers Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) for Pharmacy Aides. One related program is titled Hospital Careers. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Pharmacy Aides are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Offices of Physicians 9.1%
Grocery Stores 4.2%
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 3.5%
Outpatient Care Centers 2.9%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Employers advertise openings in newspaper ads and on the Internet, while some also recruit through private employment agencies. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Pharmacy Aides.

  • Drug Stores
  • Grocery Stores
  • Hospitals
  • Pharmacies
  • Physicians and Surgeons

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Promotional opportunities for Pharmacy Aides often require additional education or training. With experience or certification, many Aides become pharmacy technicians. In addition, some Aides may decide to go to college to become pharmacists.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Pharmacy Aides with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
CashiersGuide
Medical AssistantsGuide
Pharmacy TechniciansGuide
Physical Therapist AidesGuide
Stock Clerks and Order FillersGuide

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification31-9095
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Pharmacy Aides31-9095.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)CRS
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Pharmacy Technician/Assistant 510805
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Pharmacy Technology122100