Pharmacy assistant

What they do

Pharmacy assistants assist licensed pharmacists with various sales, administrative and customer service duties within a pharmacy. They are generally responsible for selling non-prescription medications and supplements, first aid supplies, cosmetic and toiletry items. They also operate cash registers, take inventory, stock shelves and maintain customer accounts. In some cases, these workers may also offer advice to customers on the correct application and storage of medications.


Working conditions

Pharmacy assistants usually work in retail pharmacy stores. These environments are generally kept very clean and are well lit and ventilated. Pharmacy assistants have a high level of contact with the public and follow strict regulations when providing advice to customers and selling certain types of medicines.

Hours of work can vary, depending on the specific workplace. Many pharmacy assistants work regular retail hours, which can include working on weekends and some public holidays. However, some retail pharmacies operate 24 hours a day, requiring pharmacy assistants to work in shifts which may include working nights and on weekends.

Tools and technologies

Pharmacy assistants use standard retail equipment including cash registers, EFTPOS and credit card machines, barcode readers and pricing labels guns. They should also be competent in using computers and related accountkeeping software.

How do I become one?

Education and training

It is possible to work as a pharmacy assistant without any formal qualifications, and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in community pharmacy.

The Certificates II, III and IV in Community Pharmacy are available at the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

You can undertake a traineeship in community pharmacy. The traineeship usually takes between 12 and 24 months to complete.

Prior customer service and healthcare experience may also improve employment prospects.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.