What Are The Differences Between A Pharmacy Clerk And Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy Clerk VS Pharmacy Tech

Pharmacy is a career field with so many options. If you are interested in pharmacy, you can be a pharmacist, pharmacy technician, pharmacy clerk, pharmacy dispenser, pharmacy assistant, chemotherapy pharmacist, nuclear pharmacist, staff pharmacist, director of the pharmacy, pharmacy manager, pharmacy specialist, clinical pharmacist, or pharmacologist.

Depending on the type of pharmacy career option you are interested in, the skills requirements, educational qualifications, etc. will differ. Although each of the above-mentioned career options is in the pharmacy field, skills, experiences, and education requirements will be different.

So what is the main difference between a Pharmacy Clerk and Pharmacy Technician

The main difference between a pharmacy clerk and technician is the clerk focuses mostly on the register duties where the pharmacy technician will perform both the pharmacy duties and register. A lot of times a pharmacy technician will be certified to handle drugs as well and will perform a lot of the same duties a Pharmacist does. 

In this post, we will talk about the pharmacy clerk and pharmacy technician. If you are not sure whether you should choose a pharmacy clerk or pharmacy technician career option, this will help you.

Common Things

The major common thing between these two career profiles is both works in the pharmacy setting. As both work in the pharmacy setting, sometimes, the duties of pharmacy clerks and pharmacy technicians can be very similar.

Due to this, they may have similar work schedules, depending on the medical facility they are working in. Pharmacy technicians and clerks both work alongside pharmacists. The job of technicians and clerks revolves around providing prescriptions to customers.

Pharmacy Clerk vs Pharmacy Technician

The main difference between pharmacy clerks and pharmacy technicians is technicians can count pills, while clerks can’t. Pharmacy clerks work mainly as a cashier in the pharmacy.

Pharmacy Clerk

A Pharmacy Clerk works alongside with pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy clerks are also known as pharmacy aides. Their duties revolve around basic tasks, such as answering phone calls, ringing up purchases, stocking shelves, etc. A pharmacy clerk creates and maintains accurate patient files anytime a new customer receives a prescription from the pharmacy.

To become a pharmacy clerk, you can attend a specialized education program, however, a high school diploma would be enough. After getting hired as a pharmacy clerk, you will be provided some on the job training.

As compared to a pharmacy technician, the pharmacy clerk/aide job position is less specialized. A clerk may perform some tasks of technicians, however, the duties mainly revolve around basic administrative tasks. As a pharmacy clerk, you will be responsible for: answering calls, forwarding calls, taking messages, stocking shelves, assisting customers, operating cash registers, cleaning work areas, and sterilizing containers.

According to PayScale, the annual salary of a pharmacy clerk ranges from $21,000 and $40,000 in the United States.

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy clerks work under the supervision of pharmacy technicians. The job duties of technicians are more specialized than the clerks. As a pharmacy technician, your duties will revolve around prescribing medications, helping customers, working with pharmacists, etc. A pharmacy technician also needs to make sure that the prescriptions are accurate.

The educational qualifications required to become a technician are more as compared to a pharmacy clerk. To become a pharmacy technician, you will require a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent, prior experience in a pharmacy, medical, or customer service setting, and PTCB National Certification Education.

As a pharmacy technician, you need to have good skills in supply management, integrity, organization, attention to detail, reporting skills, quality focus, analyzing information, etc.

According to PayScale, the annual salary of a pharmacy technician ranges from $24,000 and $51,000 in the United States.

What are the duties of a pharmacy clerk?

A pharmacy clerk manages all the clerical tasks in the pharmacy. Pharmacy clerks work closely with pharmacy technicians and pharmacists. Knowing general duties and responsibilities will give a better idea about the job position. Here are some basic duties of pharmacy technicians:

Perform clerical duties

A pharmacy clerk performs a variety of different clerical tasks. It includes working as a receptionist, answering phone calls, greeting new customers, etc. Apart from this, a pharmacy clerk also needs to focus on customer requests, solving their queries and doubts, etc.

Conduct pharmacy transactions

A pharmacy clerk will also be responsible for various pharmacy transactions. He/she will be responsible for packaging and completing the orders. It includes creating, printing, and attaching proper prescription labels and packaging.

Receive and process orders

Order processing one of the important parts of the pharmacy. A clerk needs to make sure the received orders are processed properly. He/she will be responsible for preparing accurate documentation of orders and sending it to the pharmacist.

Assist pharmacy staff

A pharmacy clerk is responsible for different duties in the pharmacy. It can also include performing pharmacy services under the direct supervision of pharmaceutical staff.

What are the duties of a pharmacy technician?

The educational qualifications for pharmacy tech are quite more than pharmacy clerk. As this pharmacy job position is more specialized, the salary you will get as a technician will be higher than the clerk. Here are some basic duties you will need to perform as a pharmacy technician:

Receiving and confirming prescription orders

One of the main duties of a pharmacy technician is to receive and confirm prescription orders. Nowadays, prescriptions come in digital form, i.e., e-prescriptions. You will need to make sure whatever patient’s information you receive is correct. It includes correct spelling, address, phone number, date of birth, drug allergies, insurance information, etc.

Preparing and filling prescriptions

Preparing and filling prescriptions is not just about counting pills and capsules. A technician is also responsible for the preparation of medications like creams, compounds, ointments, etc.

Interaction with customers

Interaction with customers will be based on the type of pharmacy you are working in. For example, if you are working in a retail pharmacy, you will need to interact with customers on a regular basis. The interaction will include helping purchase their prescription, answering their questions, referring them to a pharmacist, etc.

Inventory management

Another important duty of a pharmacy tech is to manage the inventory. It includes performing regularly scheduled inventory, stocking inventory, and checking expired medications.

Differences Between Pharm Tech and Pharm Clerk According To Students and Professionals

We didn’t want you to only take our word for it so we went out and got the opinions of other students and professionals from a few different forums. We curated this information so the only thing we changed was any grammar or spelling where needed.

Real Students & Professional Opinions

1.PharmMnM “Clerks work register only” – Clerks only work the register. They are not allowed to prepare anything. Tasks include things a cashier would normally do.

2. SDN1977 “Clerk only runs register” – Yep – in CA, a clerk can do nothing other than run the register, tag the order, answer the telephone (but not answer any particularly specific question other than is my medication ready?)

We don’t have many clerks anymore. Years ago, in hospitals, we’d have quite a few who woud type labels, but that was it – that job doesn’t exist anymore.

3. Edddie260 “I did everything as a clerk” – When I was a clerk, I did everything a tech did except fill. And a tech did everything a pharmacist did except counsel. So put it together and that meant as a clerk, I did everything a pharmacist did except fill and counsel.

As far as cashier duties (which tech’s and pharmacists did as well), I scanned and typed new scripts, did refills, called insurances and handled claims, filed scripts, and everything else you can think of.

There are 2 types of clerks in pharmacies. You have your regular clerks and then you have what they called “super-clerks.” It varies from companies since I know at Savons, their clerks never really leave the register, while at Walgreens, I was all over. So I was a super-clerk 🙂 My girlfriend in pharmacy school took pharm-law and that was a real term she learned.

4. SnD1648 “Laws and have changed” – The tech laws changed in 2004 – you might want to update yourself. Experience as a clerk no longer qualifies someone to become a tech & a clerk can no longer perform technician duties. Yes, you can type a label, call an insurance co, file the rxs…..those are clerical jobs – even a tech will tell you that. But…a clerk cannot mix an IV, pour two solutions together to make a compound, mix an oral antibiotic in CA….those are just a few things I can think of, but there are lots more!

As for your girlfriend…I hope she studies hard…there is no such legal term in the pharmacy law book of CA of super-clerk, but whatever….she’ll find that out soon enough – especially when she takes the jurisprudence exam. And..you’ll piss her off if you say her tech does everything she does except counsel – just a tip!

5. Confettiflyer “Start as clerk work up to Tech” – apply as a clerk, take the test, get licensed (if your jurisdiction requires it), and ask to be bumped up to tech. If they can’t/won’t…transfer somewhere else, you’ll get paid a few dollars more

6. CalCPhT “May or may not need to be certified” –

This may be true in some states, but in California, one has to be certified to become a tech. Possibly if you start as a pharmacy clerk (you will still have opportunities to learn the inner workings of pharmacy) the store will pay for you to take the test, but strings may be attached. Beware! 🙂

There are a lot of good websites that have study preparation for the PTCE- I used one when I took the exam several years ago, and did well.

Final Thoughts

Although pharmacy clerks and pharmacy technicians work closely together in the pharmacy, the duties, responsibilities, salary, qualifications, etc. are different for both. The pharmacy technician job position is more specialized than the pharmacy clerk. Depending on your career goal, education, etc., you need to choose.

If there is a Pharmacy Clerk opening go for it even if your next goal is to be a Pharmacy Tech you can always work your way up. Have the company pay for the certification, pass it and wait for that opening so you can be first in line.

I would definitely look at working in a hospital, state or federal setting since pay will probably be better then retail along with benefits and retirement. Look into the vets homes and state hospitals they may even have scholarships available that will pay for any schooling as well. Hope this article has helped you out.


Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

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