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Pharmacy Assistant

Pharmacy assistants assist pharmacists and pharmacy technicians by compounding, packaging and labelling pharmaceutical products, and maintaining prescription records and inventories of medications and pharmaceutical products.

  • Avg. Salary $44,800.00
  • Avg. Wage $23.80
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 5,300
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Health Care Assistant, Medical Assistant, Salesperson

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: Pharmacy Assistants (3414.4) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (D313) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other assisting occupations in support of health services (3414) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Interest Codes
The Pharmacy Assistant is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Pharmacy Assistants

Interest in assisting pharmacists by labelling drugs, chemicals and other pharmaceutical preparations, and by unpacking and storing supplies and verifying items received against invoices


Interest in compiling information to compound, mix and formulate ointments, solutions, lotions, mouthwashes and other medications under the supervision of pharmacists


Interest in handling scales, weights and measures to ensure correct amounts of ingredients are present in formulas and prescriptions

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 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 More

Updated Dec 19, 2016

Pharmacy assistants work under the supervision of one or more pharmacists or pharmacy technicians. Their duties and responsibilities vary depending on their level of training and where they work (for example, in a hospital or community pharmacy). In general, they: 

  • maintain proper drug storage and security
  • enter patient information and prescriptions into computer systems
  • prepare, package and label prescription medications
  • maintain prescription and inventory record keeping systems
  • prepare compounds
  • place and receive orders for stock to maintain inventory.

Other responsibilities depend on the setting. For example, in community pharmacies, pharmacy assistants may:

  • answer telephones
  • provide patients with non-drug product information
  • accept payment for prescriptions
  • price stock and mark items for sale
  • prepare and reconcile third party insurance claims and records.

In hospital settings, they may:

  • restock drugs and solutions kept on nursing wards
  • restock drug kits that are kept for specific types of emergencies (for example, anaphylactic or diabetic shock) 
  • fill dose carts and deliver them to nursing stations
  • collect and chart information.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Pharmacy assistants may be required to work shifts including evenings, weekends and holidays, sometimes under stressful conditions. The work is demanding because it requires both accuracy and efficiency; there is no room for error.

Pharmacy assistants are on their feet for most of their shift. They may be required to lift and move objects that weigh up to 10 kilograms.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Pharmacy assistants must be able to perform routine tasks while maintaining a high degree of concentration and attention. They also need the following characteristics:

  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • a caring attitude toward others
  • good manual dexterity
  • the ability to remain calm and handle emergencies
  • the ability to pay close attention to detail.

They should enjoy having clear rules and organized methods for their work, compiling information and using computers.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Employers usually prefer to hire applicants who are graduates of a related training program or who have pharmacy experience. Computer literacy and keyboarding skills are essential.

Related Education

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

ABM College

Bay River College

Cambrooks College - Downtown Campus

Canadian Health & Business College

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary City Centre

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton City Centre

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Red Deer

East-West College of Business & Technology

ERP College

Heritage College

Robertson College - Calgary NW

Robertson College - Edmonton

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Most pharmacy assistants are employed in retail pharmacies or hospital or medical centre pharmacies.

Pharmacy assistants are part of the larger National Occupational Classification 3414: Other assisting occupations in support of health services. In Alberta, 83% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance (PDF) industry.

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

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • 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.

In Alberta, the D313: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.2% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 246 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Other assisting occupations in support of health services

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $12.70 $29.84 $20.71 $21.42
Overall $15.00 $34.54 $23.80 $23.56
Top $15.93 $63.15 $30.27 $25.69

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.

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.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Alberta College of Pharmacists website:

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website:

Pharmacy Technician Society of Alberta (PTSA) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 19, 2014. 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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