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Pharmacy Assistant

Pharmacy assistants help pharmacists and pharmacy technicians by interacting with patients and customers and gathering information, selecting medications from stock, counting medications, packaging them, and entering information into a patient care record for review by a pharmacy technician or pharmacist. They support the maintenance of prescription records and inventories of medications and pharmaceutical products.

Also Known As

Health Care Assistant, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Clerk

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

  • 3414.4: Pharmacy Assistants

2006 NOC-S

  • D313: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services

2011 NOC

  • 3414: Other assisting occupations in support of health services

2016 NOC

  • 3414: Other assisting occupations in support of health services

2021 NOC

  • 33103: Pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants

2023 OaSIS

  • 33103.00: Pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants
Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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
  • Help in preparing and packaging prescription medications
  • Interact with patients and customers regarding their pharmacy requests and questions
  • Maintain prescription and inventory record-keeping systems
  • Provide limited support, under supervision, during the preparation of some compounds
  • Place and receive orders to maintain inventory
  • Package, distribute, and ship medications
  • Manage and replenish medication inventory levels under the general supervision of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians

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:

  • Determine which drugs and solutions require restocking on nursing units, prior to being checked by pharmacists or pharmacy technicians
  • Determine drugs to restock kits for specific types of emergencies, like anaphylactic or diabetic shock, prior to pre-delivery checks by pharmacists or pharmacy technicians
  • Deliver prepared medications to nursing stations
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

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

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

Pharmacy assistants are on their feet for most of their shift. They may be required to lift and move heavy items.

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.

Pharmacy Assistants

2006 NOC: 3414.4

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

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

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Pharmacy assistants need:

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

They should enjoy:

  • Having clear rules and organized methods for their work
  • Compiling information
  • Using computers

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.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Other assisting occupations in support of health services

2016 NOC: 3414

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 151 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Jan 05, 2024 and Jun 15, 2024.

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.
Tasks: Organize and maintain inventory
Tasks: Assist health care professionals
Experience: 1 year to less than 2 years
Tasks: Order supplies and equipment
Tasks: Prepare and maintain equipment and supplies
Construction Specialization: Organized
Tasks: Perform general clerical duties
Attention to detail
Tasks: Maintain supplies
Construction Specialization: Team player
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education Varies

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.

ABES (Alberta Business and Educational Services) - Calgary
ABM College
AGA Academy
Alberta Business & Health Institute
Alberta Business and Health Institute
Alberta Paramount College
APS College of Health and Technology
Bay River College
Brookes College
Cambrooks College - Downtown Campus
Canadian Health & Business College
Canadian Imperial 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
City College of Management
East-West College of Business & Technology
ERP College
Heritage College
Peerless College
Robertson College - Calgary
Robertson College - Edmonton
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
Sundance College
Sundance College - Edmonton
Willis College

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, 2024
  • Certification Not Regulated

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Most pharmacy assistants work for community pharmacies or in hospital or medical facility pharmacies.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 3414: Other assisting occupations in support of health services occupational group, 83.7% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 3414: Other assisting occupations in support of health services occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 95 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: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE GSS) website.

As of June 26, 2019, the minimum wage in Alberta is $15.00 per hour for most workers. For more information, see Minimum Wage.

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.

Other assisting occupations in support of health services

2016 NOC: 3414
Average Wage
$23.86
Per Hour
Average Salary
$39,005.00
Per Year
Average Hours
31.4
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3414 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 $15.00 $35.81 $21.03 $20.39
Overall $16.64 $38.84 $23.86 $23.26
Top $18.00 $47.67 $26.87 $25.95

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

ALL INDUSTRIES
Retail Trade
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
57%
57%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
18%
18%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
4%
4%
Vacancy Rate
2%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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

Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE GSS) website: www.aupe.org

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

Updated Mar 31, 2024. 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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