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Pharmacy Assistant

Pharmacy assistants help pharmacists and pharmacy technicians by compounding, packaging, and labelling pharmaceutical products. They maintain prescription records and inventories of medications and pharmaceutical products.

  • Avg. Salary $37,912.00
  • Avg. Wage $23.34
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 5,700
  • In Demand High
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) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other assisting occupations in support of health services (3414) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

55%
55%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • 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
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 Mar 31, 2019

Pharmacy assistants work under the supervision of 1 or more pharmacists or pharmacy technicians. Their duties and responsibilities vary depending on their level of training and where they work. In general, they:

  • Maintain proper drug storage and security
  • Enter patient information and prescriptions into computer systems
  • Assist with the preparation, packaging, and labelling of prescription medications
  • Maintain prescription and inventory record-keeping systems
  • Prepare some compounds under supervision
  • Place and receive orders to maintain inventory

Other responsibilities depend on the setting.

In community pharmacies, pharmacy assistants may:

  • Answer telephones
  • 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 for specific types of emergencies, like anaphylactic or diabetic shock
  • Fill dose carts and deliver them to nursing stations
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Pharmacy assistants may be required to work shifts including evenings, weekends, and holidays.

They sometimes work under stressful conditions. The work is demanding. It requires both accuracy and efficiency, and 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 heavy items.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Pharmacy assistants need:

  • The composure to handle emergencies
  • A caring attitude toward others
  • Communication skills
  • Mental alertness while doing routine tasks
  • Manual dexterity
  • Attention to detail

They should enjoy:

  • Having clear rules and organized methods for their work
  • Compiling information
  • Using computers
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Employers usually prefer 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

Alberta Business & Health Institute

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

Peerless Training Institute

Robertson College - Calgary

Robertson College - Edmonton

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

Sundance College

Sundance College - Edmonton

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Most pharmacy assistants are employed in retail pharmacies or in 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 (pdf) 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

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

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.

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.

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
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $24.08 $20.51 $21.62
Overall $16.93 $28.39 $23.34 $23.84
Top $18.00 $30.18 $25.89 $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
ALL INDUSTRIES
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

55%
55%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

26%
26%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

6%
6%

Vacancy Rate

3%
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

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

Pharmacy Technician Society of Alberta (PTSA) website: ptsa.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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