Search Schools

  • Next Step >
  • Next Step >

Medical Assistant vs Pharmacy Tech

Medical Assistant vs Pharmacy Tech

Difference Between a Medical Assistant and a Pharmacy Technician

Are you trying to determine the perfect healthcare career for you? If so, you have probably through about medical assisting and pharmacy technician as possible choices. Both of these careers offer nice salaries, excellent work environments, and the chance to make the difference in the lives of others. It is there that the similarities end, however. Medical assistants and pharmacy technicians perform vastly different duties and typically work in completely different types of facilities. What are the differences between a medical assistant and a pharmacy technician? Which career fits your personality and situation better? Before you decide if one of these careers is right for you, take the time to know everything you can about each option.

Training Requirements

While on-the-job training may be available in limited areas for both medical assistants and pharmacy technicians, most employers require formal training through accredited schools. Medical assistants may find training at a number of traditional or online schools ranging from the certificate to the degree level. Most programs include both clinical and administrative components and require students to complete hands-on experience through an internship or externship before graduation. While most states do not require medical assistants to be certified, earning certification can greatly enhance your employment and earning potential. In order to sit for the certification examination, you must complete a training program that is accredited through the ABHES or the CAAHEP.

In order to become a pharmacy tech, you should complete a training program that is accredited by The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Training programs are available from the certificate to degree level and can be completed in under a year in some cases. Coursework in a pharmacy technician program includes technical and practical training and consists of pharmacy law and ethics, pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, healthcare systems, medical terminology, and pharmaceutical calculations. In most states, certification is not required for pharmacy techs, but it is a good idea to attain certification to enhance job opportunities and earning potential. Certification exams are offered through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the National Healthcareer Association.

Duties and Responsibilities

Depending on training, medical assistants may perform clinical responsibilities such as helping with tests and minor medical procedures, counseling patients, taking health histories and vital signs, and more. Others may perform administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, answering phones, conducting billing, filing, maintaining inventory, etc. Generalists may perform both clinical and administrative tasks in order to support the physician and to ensure that the facility runs smoothly.

Pharmacy technicians work alongside a pharmacist to dispense medications to patients. The pharmacy technician often handle much of the routine clerk responsibilities. This includes accepting and double checking prescriptions, maintaining patient records, filling prescriptions and making labels for the pharmacist to check, and consulting with the pharmacist regarding drug interactions and risk factors. In a hospital, pharmacy technicians perform much the same duties, but may also assemble prescription packets for nurses to give to patients, with all work being checked by a pharmacist.

Employment & Salary

Both the medical assisting and pharmacy technician fields are predicted to experience excellent growth in coming years, allowing for increased employment opportunities for both types of professionals. In addition, people in both careers can expect to earn an average salary of around $30,000, plus benefits. The major employment difference between the two professions is the type of facility in which they work.

Before you choose a healthcare career, take the time to thoroughly understand all facets of each job. This will allow you to choose a training program that fits your needs so you can go to work in a career that will provide you with a lifetime of enjoyment and satisfaction.