Pharmacy clerks or “aides” perform nominal tasks within a pharmacy setting. Clerks work under the direct supervision of licensed and registered pharmacists. Most pharmacy clerk duties are administrative. They answer phones, stock shelves and operate the cash register. Pharmacy clerks do not prepare prescriptions or mix medications. The education and training required for this position is minimal.
Education and Training
Pharmacy clerks need a high school diploma to enter the occupation. Beyond high school, no formal education or training is required unless the clerk decides to pursue advancement opportunities. Most pharmacy clerks are trained on the job. Clerks are trained on how to work the cash register as well as the general layout of the pharmacy setting.
Some technical and vocational schools offer diploma and certificate programs for pharmacy aides. These programs are designed to prepare clerks for entry-level pharmacy positions. They cover the various products clerks come in contact with on the job, basic math, typing and pharmacy terminology.
Pharmacy clerks work with patients as well as highly skilled health care professionals so they need superior customer service and communication skills. Pharmacy clerks must also possess basic math, reading and spelling skills. Attention to detail is also necessary to succeed in this occupation. Because many pharmacies are open during non-traditional hours, pharmacy clerks must be willing to work nights, weekends and holidays. Pharmacy clerk jobs have physical demands. Clerks stand for extended periods as well as lift boxes, kneel and bend throughout the day so they must be physically capable of performing job duties.
Pharmacy clerks advance to pharmacy technician jobs. Pharmacy technicians receive prescription requests, count tablets and label bottles. Some technicians mix medications. Pharmacy clerks may obtain voluntary certification through private agencies such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. To be eligible for certification, clerks must have a high school diploma, pass a certification exam and pay a fee. The certification can be used in the pharmacy clerk position to obtain a raise or increased duties, or the clerk can use the certification to advance to a pharmacy technician position.
Pharmacy clerks earn about $10 per hour or $20,000 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many clerks work part time so earnings vary by employer type and hours worked per week. Pharmacy clerks who earn the most make more than $31,040 per year according to the BLS. Pharmacy technicians earn an average median wage of $28,000 per year.