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Pharmacist

Pharmacists collaborate with services and programs that are designed to promote health and well-being. They treat disease and other disorders through drug therapy, wellness promotion, and disease state management. Pharmacists support caregivers and other health care professionals and help patients manage their medications.

Also Known As

Clinical Pharmacist, Druggist, Pharmaceutical Chemist, Registered Pharmacist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Community Pharmacists and Hospital Pharmacists (3131.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Pharmacists (D031) 
  • 2011 NOC: Pharmacists (3131) 
  • 2016 NOC: Pharmacists (3131) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Community Pharmacists and Hospital Pharmacists

2006 NOC: 3131.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
METHODICAL

Interest in precision working to dispense prescribed pharmaceuticals to customers and other health care professionals, and to ensure proper preparation, packaging, distribution and storage of vaccines, serums, biological and other drugs and pharmaceuticals; and in ordering and maintaining stock of pharmaceutical supplies

INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing pharmaceutical products; and in advising customers and health care professionals on indications, contra-indications, adverse effects, drugs interactions and dosage

DIRECTIVE

Interest in instructing and advising customers on the selection and use of non-prescription medications; may supervise and co-ordinate the activities of other pharmacists, pharmacy assistants, pharmacy technicians and other staff

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Pharmacists help patients at local community pharmacies, hospitals, or related health facilities. They also apply their knowledge in:

  • Health research
  • Industrial settings
  • Post-secondary schools
  • Health regulatory, advocacy, and other professional organizations
  • Pharmacy administration
  • Health policy development

Pharmacists in community and hospital settings:

  • Determine, monitor, and manage drug therapy independently and in collaboration with other health care professionals
  • Promote and maintain health and wellness, and provide disease state management and medication management care plans
  • Integrate aspects of patients’ history, physical findings, and monitoring studies to draw up a therapeutic plan
  • Counsel patients regarding the safe and appropriate use of drugs, and the importance of adhering to drug therapy instructions
  • Give patients, caregivers, and other health care providers advice on selecting and using drug and non-drug products
  • Compound, prepare, and dispense drugs
  • Provide non-prescription drugs, health care aides, and devices
  • Supervise and manage drug distribution systems to maintain public safety and drug system security
  • Conduct or collaborate in drug-related research
  • Conduct or administer drug and other health-related programs such as structured medication reviews
  • Participate in health promotion, prevention, and public health activities such as immunizations
  • Provide advice regarding disease management and prevention through home visits, medication and disease information, and natural medicine consultations
  • Advise patients through clinics, including anticoagulant management clinics, osteoporosis screening, and travel medicine clinics
  • Advise patients through consultation on issues including asthma, diabetes, smoking cessation, heart health, depression, pain management, weight loss, and nutrition
  • Prescribe new therapies or extend current therapies
  • Adapt prescriptions regarding dose and dosage form to meet individual needs
  • Assist patients in improving adherence to medications
  • Assess and independently prescribe medications to manage chronic medical conditions toward a target treatment level

In Alberta, licensed pharmacists collaborate with other health care professionals. Their participation may involve prescribing drugs or blood products or giving injections.

 Pharmacists in community settings also:

  • Sell prescription and non-prescription drugs, surgical supplies, home health care aides, herbal products, vitamins and nutraceuticals, and other related products
  • Perform drug distribution logistics, accounting, marketing, or human resource functions
  • Conduct medication reviews and work collaboratively with other health care professionals to achieve patient care goals

Pharmacists in hospital settings can also build a practice in fields such as oncology, cardiology, psychiatry, infectious disease, critical care, intensive care, internal medicine, pediatrics, or geriatrics. In addition, they:

  • Work on interdisciplinary teams to provide patient care
  • Give presentations to colleagues, health care professionals, and community groups

Pharmacists in industrial and educational settings may:

  • Conduct pharmacy practice research and develop drug products
  • Work in the production, marketing, quality control, or sales departments of pharmaceutical firms
  • Educate other health care providers about appropriate drug use
  • Take part in advocacy, policy development, association management, or government relations
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

Pharmacists can either work alone or team up with others in the field. These can include pharmacists, physicians, nurses, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy assistants, and other health professionals.

In community and hospital settings, pharmacists often work rotating shifts that include evenings and holidays.

In some situations, pharmacists may be on their feet for long periods.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Pharmacists need:

  • Discretion and tact
  • Good judgment
  • Communication and problem-solving skills
  • Attention to detail
  • The ability to work under pressure
  • Integrity

They should enjoy:

  • Carrying out precision tasks
  • Directing and instructing staff
  • Synthesizing information

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Pharmacists

2011 NOC: 3131

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 24 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 19, 2021 and Sep 12, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Advise customers on selection and use of non-prescription medication
Check prescriptions for proper dosage
Dispense prescribed pharmaceuticals to customers or to other health care professionals and advise them on indications, contra-indications, adverse effects, drug interactions and dosage
Ensure proper preparation, packaging, distribution and storage of vaccines, serums, biologicals and other drugs and pharmaceuticals
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Personal Suitability: Dependability
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Personal Suitability: Organized
Personal Suitability: Excellent written communication
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary

The minimum academic requirement is a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. Pharmacists also need to have extensive knowledge of drug therapy and to stay up to date on the latest advances in the pharmaceutical sciences.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Pharmacist

Pharmacists assist and advise clients and other health care providers by contributing unique drug and non drug therapy knowledge on drug and non drug selection and use; monitor responses and outcomes to drug therapy; compound, prepare, dispense and prescribe drugs; provide non prescription drugs, blood products, parenteral nutrition, health care devices and aids; supervise and manage drug distribution systems to maintain public safety and drug system security; educate clients, patients and others; conduct or collaborate in drug related research; and conduct or administer drug and other health related programs.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Profession Regulation registration with the Alberta College of Pharmacists (ACP) is mandatory if you meet identified competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public, teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Registered members, who are authorized by the College, provide restricted activities specified in the Regulation. Only registered members may call themselves pharmacists, clinical pharmacists or druggists.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Pharmacist.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Pharmacists are employed by:

  • Pharmacies
  • Retail stores with pharmacy departments
  • Health care facilities
  • Primary care networks and family care clinics
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Government, including regulatory departments, public heath units, food and drug inspection services, law enforcement laboratories, and the Armed Forces
  • Professional, advocacy, and regulatory bodies
  • Post-secondary schools

Pharmacists working in community settings usually start as salaried employees. With experience, they can take on managerial roles, enter a partnership, or even start their own pharmacy. Teaching and research positions generally require further education.

In Alberta, 96% of people employed as pharmacists work in the following industries:

The employment outlook (pdf) in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • Size of the occupation

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

In Alberta, the 3131: Pharmacists occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 97 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Pharmacists

2016 NOC: 3131
Average Wage
$49.86
Per Hour
Average Salary
$85,143.00
Per Year
Average Hours
32.3
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.9
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3131 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.25 $55.00 $46.56 $48.00
Overall $20.89 $59.20 $49.86 $50.00
Top $46.46 $65.66 $54.77 $52.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
ALL INDUSTRIES
Retail Trade
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
51%
51%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
30%
30%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
7%
7%
Vacancy Rate
1%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) website: abpharmacy.ca

Alberta Pharmacists’ Association website: www.rxa.ca

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website: www.hsaa.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2019. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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