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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.

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) 
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

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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

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.

Traits & Skills
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

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 90 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Nov 29, 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.
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Client focus
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Personal Suitability: Dependability
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Personal Suitability: Organized
Personal Suitability: Accurate
Personal Suitability: Initiative
Personal Suitability: Flexibility
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • 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
Bay River 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 Training Institute
Robertson College - Calgary
Robertson College - Edmonton
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
Sundance College
Sundance College - Edmonton

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 Not Regulated

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 3414: Other assisting occupations in support of health services occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.1% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 169 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: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
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.

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

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

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, 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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