In the world of healthcare, pharmacies play a crucial role in ensuring the safe and effective distribution of medications to patients.

Among these professionals, two common roles are the Pharmacy Technician and the pharmacy assistant.

Although their titles might sound similar, there are distinct differences in their responsibilities and level of expertise.

So, are you looking for a career in the pharmaceutical field?

If so, then you must know how these two careers are different from each other.

Let us help you with that, read on!

Major Difference #1 Clinical vs. Administrative Tasks

A pharmacy technician dispenses prescription medications and provides customer service in a retail setting, while a pharmacy assistant assists with administrative tasks in a hospital or clinic setting.

Pharmacy technicians and assistants are both essential contributors in the retail and healthcare sectors, as they actively support pharmacists in the dispensing of medications.

In the retail industry, pharmacy technicians are specialized in providing exceptional customer service and ensuring that prescription medicines and over-the-counter medications are properly stocked on shelves.

With their expertise in medical terminology, these professionals address customer requirements by receiving prescriptions, verifying information, filling prescriptions, and performing various related duties. (Related: What is a Pharmacy Technician)

On the other hand, pharmacy assistants provide valuable support in administrative tasks within a hospital environment, such as filing paperwork and updating patient records.

There are challenges in both roles, but they offer a rewarding career path for individuals who are well-suited to these professions.

pharm tech pharm assistant

Major Difference #2: Workload & Responsibilities

Pharmacy technicians have more responsibilities than assistants, including measuring and mixing medications, filing patient information, and answering questions.

Pharmacy technicians are the backbone of the healthcare system. They play an important role in the healthcare system, as they not only perform important tasks such as measuring and blending medications,

But are also responsible for entering patient details into computer systems and maintaining well-organized records accessible to pharmacists when dispensing prescriptions.

Their duty doesn’t end here, as pharmacy technicians are always ready to address any queries or questions that patients or customers may have regarding their medications or the services that are offered to them.

This greatly contributes to ensuring individuals receive the best possible care. Consequently, pharmacy technicians are essential members of the healthcare team.

Related: What does a pharmacy technician do

Major Difference #3: Day-To-Day Roles

Pharmacy assistants handle tasks like stocking shelves, inventory management, and supply ordering, with less responsibility compared to pharmacy technicians.

Pharmacy Assistants, although their responsibilities may be less compared to pharmacy technicians, they hold a significant position in a pharmacy environment.

A pharmacy should always contain sufficient medicines, and their stock should be maintained. This is one of the major responsibilities of a Pharmacy Assistant. Their responsibilities include stocking shelves with medication, monitoring inventory levels, and placing orders for necessary supplies.

Pharmacy assistants also assist customers by offering proper guidance and support when needed. Pharmacy assistants play a vital role in the daily functioning of a pharmacy and help in the smooth functioning of a Pharmacy.

Major Difference #4: Skills

Pharmacy technicians and assistants require prescription comprehension and familiarity with common medications for treating different conditions.

Pharmacy technicians and assistants play an important role in the healthcare system as they are both essential for the dispensing of medications. Hence, pharmacy technicians and assistants need to know basic medications for various conditions. (Read More: Pharmacy Technician Skills)

This enables them to educate patients about their medications and inform them about potential side effects associated with their treatment.

By utilizing these skills, pharmacy technicians and assistants may help save lives by ensuring the timely availability of the correct medications.

pharm assistant vs pharmacy tech

Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Tech: Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a pharmacy technician earns an average salary of $36,740 annually.

Learn more: Pharmacy Technician Salary

Various factors also decide your earned salaries in these positions. These factors include your geographical location and your total experience, and it also depends on the willingness of your employer based on your skills.

Apart from salary, you also expect to earn other benefits like health insurance, employee discounts, and sometimes a flexible schedule, depending on your employer.

The BLS shows a significant employment growth rate of 5% from 2021 to 2031 for pharmacy technicians.

On the other hand, the BLS reported pharmacy assistants or pharmacy aides earning an average annual salary of $35,870.

The BLS also reported that the employment growth for pharmacy assistants was expected to be around 3.4% by the year 2031.

Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Tech: Educational Requirements

In many states, formal education is not required for the roles of pharmacy technician and pharmacy assistant. Generally, a high school diploma is sufficient.

Even without formal educational requirements, you can still pursue on-the-job training for both roles to improve your chances of securing employment in these fields.

If you have an interest in pursuing these careers, it would be beneficial to complete an internship or externship to gain some practical experience and knowledge that will give you a great start for your pharmaceutical career.


Pharmacy Assistant vs Pharmacy Tech: Licensing

When it comes to Licensing, pharmacy assistants don’t need to obtain one, however, some states may require pharmacy technicians to obtain certification.

Getting licensed as a pharmacy technician will require you to pass a certification exam conducted by either the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board(PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

To get certified by the NHA, you need to fulfill one of the two following criteria:

  • Complete a minimum of one of experience as a pharmacy technician, or
  • Complete a pharmacy technician education training program


Pharmacy Technician vs Assistant: Skills Required

Both pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants require different skills to effectively carry out their job responsibilities.

The following skills are utilized daily in both of these professions:

  • Accuracy: Both pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants need a high level of accuracy in their duties. Sometimes, they also have to multitask. When it comes to processing insurance claims examining prescription details, or finalizing sales transactions at the pharmacy counter, it becomes important to perform the right calculations and to have the ability to verify accurate information.
  • Collaboration: Both Pharmacy Technicians and Pharmacy assistants have to work together with the pharmacist. This requires you to have strong collaboration skills to enable seamless communication and cooperation, leading to top-notch customer service.
  • Mathematical proficiency: Nowadays, various software programs are popular, and they have reduced the workload related to mathematical calculations. But sometimes those may not work properly. To avoid any problems, proficiency in mathematics is essential for both pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants; whether you are processing payments or operating cash registers, strong mathematical proficiency is required.
  • Customer service skills: Customer service is the most important aspect of the healthcare industry as there are lots of queries and concerns that need to be resolved timely manner. Customer service skills are vital for engaging with pharmacy customers. These skills facilitate active listening, addressing customer problems, and providing effective solutions to any issues that they face.
  • Pharmaceutical knowledge: Knowledge in the pharmaceutical sector allows a Pharmacy technician and Pharmacy Assistant to effectively support pharmacists and provide excellent service to customers within the pharmacy setting. This knowledge not only helps pharmacists to run a Pharmacy but also allows them to provide superior service to customers within the pharmacy setting.


Pharmacy Assistants and Pharmacy Technicians each have distinct roles in supporting pharmacists. Pharmacy Assistants focus on customer service and administrative tasks, while Pharmacy Technicians handle specialized responsibilities like medication dispensing and inventory management.

Recognizing these differences helps individuals choose a career path that aligns with their skills and goals, both contributing significantly to safe medication practices in the healthcare system.


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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.