Career Information Hotline

Toll Free 1-800-661-3753

Edmonton 780-422-4266

Guest Account Sign In Sign Up
Occupational Profile

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 $38,099.00
  • Avg. Wage $23.85
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook Up
  • Employed 5,100
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Health Care Assistant, Medical Assistant, Salesperson

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

50%
50%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Pharmacy Assistant is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Pharmacy Assistants
NOC code: 3414.4
METHODICAL

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

INNOVATIVE

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

OBJECTIVE

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

Duties
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.

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

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

Evergreen College - Calgary

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.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

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 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.

Over 7,700 Albertans are employed in the Other assisting occupations in support of health services occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.2% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 246 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As pharmacy assistants form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for pharmacy assistants.  

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
NOC code: 3414

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
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $14.00 $28.90 $21.05 $21.45
Overall $16.00 $34.03 $23.85 $23.41
Top $18.00 $36.20 $26.05 $25.07

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
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

50%
50%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

21%
21%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

3%
3%

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
    • Biology
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Human and Social Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Alberta College of Pharmacists website: www.pharmacists.ab.ca

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

Pharmacy Technician Society of Alberta (PTSA) website: www.pharmacytechnicians.ab.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works 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.

Was this page useful?
Top