Medical Assistant Vs Pharmacy Technician: Everything You Need to Know

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Are you attempting to figure out what kind of healthcare job would be best for you? If that’s the case, you’ve undoubtedly considered medical assistants and pharmacy technicians as options.

Both of these professions provide good pay, pleasant working conditions, and the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. However, that’s where the parallels end.

Medical assistants and pharmacy technicians have quite distinct responsibilities and operate in very different environments. What makes a medical assistant different from a pharmacy technician?

Take the time to learn everything you can about each of these occupations before deciding if one is appropriate for you. 

Medical Assistant and Pharmacy Technician

Medical Assistant and Pharmacy Technician

Who is a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy technicians are medical specialists that assist and support patients while ensuring that they receive the best possible treatment.

Community (retail) pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacture or sales in the pharmaceutical sector, prisons, primary care, education, military, or veterinary clinics are all areas where pharmacy technicians can work.

Each location has its own set of pharmacy technician jobs, and each state has its own set of rules regarding what a pharmacy technician may accomplish.

Who is a Medical Assistant? 

Medical assistants are healthcare workers who work in clinics and offices to help doctors. They may take your vital signs, examine your height and weight, and show you to the exam room. Medical assistants will inquire about your symptoms and health concerns before referring you to your doctor.

Despite the fact that medical assistants work closely with doctors, they are unable to provide medical advice to patients. Their responsibilities are restricted to gathering data and preparing the doctor and patient for the medical appointment.

Role Difference Between Medical Assistant Vs Pharmacy Technician

In this part, we’ll go through the fundamental responsibilities of each profession, such as what a pharmacy technician and a medical assistant do.

  • Pharmacy Technician: Fills and processes prescriptions and dispenses drugs to patients at a retail pharmacy or a hospital under the direct supervision of a pharmacist.
  • Medical Assistant: Performs duties such as giving drugs and injections, assessing patient vital signs, documenting patient information, and handling medical tools and supplies alongside a physician, primarily in a clinical environment.

Certification Requirements 

Here you will learn about the requirements for applying for certification in the following fields:

  • Pharmacy Technician: Can apply for certification right after high school or GED. 
  • Medical Assistant: Can apply for certification right after high school or GED. 


Here you will find information about the national boards that certify allied health professionals.

  • Pharmacy Technician: Certification is required in certain states for pharmacy technicians. Passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) will get you certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
  • Medical Assistant: Although certification is not required, it does improve a medical assistant’s career chances. The CMA Certification Examination, given by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) certifying board in accordance with the National Board of Medical Examiners, can be used to get certification.


In this part, you’ll learn about the various types of education programs available to students, including certificate/diploma and associate degree programs, that may be used to pursue the following careers:

  • Pharmacy Technician: In 10 months, you can finish a certificate or diploma programme. It is less comprehensive and less expensive than an associate degree, which might be the next step for pharmacy technicians who want to work in healthcare as a compounding lab technician, pharmaceutical service technician, or other comparable jobs. Both programmes offer on-the-job training in areas including pharmacy operations, pharmacology, and advanced administration. There are other online study alternatives available, which must be recognised by the ASHP.
  • Medical Assistant: A certificate/diploma generally takes 9 to 12 months to complete, but an associate degree might take up to 24 months to complete and can help you proceed to a bachelor’s degree or even become a registered nurse. Accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) should be preferred for on-campus or online programmes.


In this section, you will learn about the responsibilities that each of the following professions must fulfill for the majority of the day.

Pharmacy Technician 

  • Prescriptions should be accepted and double-checked.
  • Follow the prescription’s instructions for processing and preparing the medicines.
  • When the drug is ready, they give it to the patients directly or to the nurse or attending medical officer in charge.
  • Objective Is to assist with the processing of insurance claims.
  • Administrative responsibilities such as maintaining the pharmacy’s inventory and patient invoicing.
  • Using a computer to enter patient information.
  • All of these responsibilities are carried out under the direction of a pharmacist.

Medical Assistant 

  • Answering phones and greeting patients.
  • Keeping patient records up to date and making appointments.
  • Getting patients ready for the exam.
  • Performing routine laboratory tests, such as blood sampling and electrocardiograms.
  •  Informing patients on treatment methods and drug instructions.
  • Changing dressings and removing sutures.
  • Filing insurance forms is one of the administrative responsibilities.
  • Scheduling hospital admissions and laboratory tests.
  • Entering patient information and invoicing on a computer.


To be successful in any profession, one must have the necessary skills, some of which are inherent in one’s nature and others that may be learned on the job. Let’s look at some of the fundamental abilities needed for each of the following jobs:

Pharmacy Technician

  • Should be able to communicate well and work well with others.
  • Should be a patient and sympathetic listener.
  • Should be precise, structured, and detail-oriented.
  • Should have computer skills and be familiar with the various platforms, apps, and software applications used in pharmacies.

Medical Assistant

A medical assistant is the first and the last person a patient interacts with at a physician’s office.

  • Should have a calm and sympathetic manner, as well as the ability to communicate empathically.
  • Analytical abilities are required to comprehend and follow medical charts and diagnosis.
  • Must be familiar with the use of clinical instruments to obtain vital signs from patients, such as heart rate and blood pressure.
  • It must be precise and well-organized.

Working Conditions 

Each of the following occupations has its own set of working circumstances. For one, it’s a well-ventilated drugstore and clinic, while for the other, it’s the quiet confines of a laboratory. Continue reading to find out which work environments are ideal for you:

  • Pharmacy Technician: Around 75% of pharmacy technicians work in a retail context, such as a grocery shop, drug store, or online pharmacy. Because there is a lot of connection between the pharmacy tech and the client, strong customer service skills are particularly necessary with this sort of business.

    Others work in hospitals, nursing homes, or the federal government, among other places. The responsibilities of a pharmacy technician at a hospital or nursing home may differ from those in a retail store. The job description might include maintaining patient charts, providing medicine, or assembling medication packages for nurses to dispense. Work is always verified and signed off by a qualified pharmacist, regardless of the tasks.
  • Medical Assistant: Medical assistants operate in clean, well-organized, and well-ventilated clinical environments. They work a typical 40-hour week for the most part. Some people work part-time, in the evenings or only on weekends.

    They work at the clinic’s front desk, managing patient delays and rescheduling appointments in a friendly manner. On a busy clinic day, staff must make the patient feel at ease while they wait for their time.


The following information will tell you how much each occupation earns per year and per hour:

  • Medical Assistant: In May 2017, the median annual pay for a medical assistant was $33,580, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job Outlook

The job outlook will inform you of each career’s development potential as well as the different variables that contribute to it:

  • Pharmacy Technician: Employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to rise 11.83 percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The rise in chronic lifestyle illnesses, the ageing population, and advances in the pharmaceutical industry have resulted in more prescription medications to treat diseases, as well as an increase in the number of individuals insuring their health as a result of government insurance changes. In 2016, 450,100 pharmacy technician positions were available.
  • Medical Assistant: Medical assistant employment is expected to rise by 28.99 percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Physicians will expand their practises in response to the increased demand for preventative care. As a result, additional medical assistants will be needed to undertake basic administrative and clinical tasks.

    Patients will have more access to medical treatment as the number of people with health insurance grows. All of these reasons have contributed to the growing need for medical assistants. In 2016, there were 634,400 jobs in Massachusetts.

Career Advancement

When comparing comparable professions, knowing what comes next is a crucial criterion. The following material will tell you about advancement prospects in the occupations listed below.

  • Pharmacy Technician: A pharmacy technician may pursue a career as a pharmacist or a nurse. Other options include becoming a compounding pharmacy technician or working in major retail outlets as a manager.
  • Medical Assistant: A medical assistant who wants to pursue a career in nursing can do so. Other choices include becoming a transcribing supervisor, clinical office manager, or lead medical assistant, or pursuing a specialist clinical sector such as podiatry, cardiology, or emergency care.


Take the time to completely learn all aspects of each job before deciding on a healthcare career. This will enable you to select a training plan that meets your requirements, allowing you to begin working in a job that will give you a lifetime of happiness and contentment.