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Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians work under the direction of pharmacists, where they compound, prepare, and dispense prescriptions and pharmaceutical products. They also provide services that promote health and wellness as well as safe and effective drug distribution.

  • Avg. Salary $37,912.00
  • Avg. Wage $23.34
  • Minimum Education 1 year post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 5,700
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Dispensary Technician, Pharmacy Technologist

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);  Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) (3219) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other assisting occupations in support of health services (3414);  Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) (3219) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

51%
51%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Interest Codes
The Pharmacy Technician 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 technicians work under the direction of a pharmacist. In general, they:

  • Gather and enter patient information and doctors’ prescriptions in computer systems
  • Assess prescriptions for completeness
  • Receive and transcribe verbal prescriptions from prescribers
  • Prepare, package, and dispense prescription medications after a pharmacist has determined appropriateness of therapy
  • Compound drugs and blood products
  • Maintain prescription and inventory record-keeping systems
  • Maintain proper drug storage and security
  • Place and receive orders to maintain inventory
  • Instruct clients about the use of health aids and devices

Pharmacy technicians have a range of other responsibilities depending on their work placement.

In neighbourhood pharmacies, they may:

  • Help customers find non-prescription items
  • Provide patients with non-drug product information
  • Accept payment for prescriptions
  • Prepare and reconcile third-party insurance claims and records
  • Participate in health promotion, such as disease management screening and consultation clinics
  • Price, stock, and mark items for sale

In hospitals, pharmacy technicians may:

  • Prepare sterile products such as intravenous (IV) admixtures, chemotherapy admixtures, and total parenteral nutrition (TPN)
  • Perform final product checks
  • Restock drugs and solutions kept on nursing wards
  • Restock drug kits for specific emergencies, such as anaphylactic or diabetic shock
  • Fill dose carts and deliver them to nursing stations
  • Manage the use of automated compounding and dispensing devices
  • Work with clinical drug trials and investigational drugs
  • Collect and document information

Whatever their placement, pharmacy technicians may also:

  • Participate in pharmacy practice research
  • Educate other health care providers about pharmacy-related matters
  • Supervise staff, including pharmacy assistants
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Pharmacy technicians often work shifts, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Because conditions are at times stressful, the work is demanding. It requires both accuracy and efficiency to ensure patient safety. There is no room for error.

Pharmacy technicians are on their feet for long stretches. They may have to lift and move heavy objects.

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

Pharmacy technicians need:

  • The composure to handle emergencies
  • A caring attitude toward others
  • An aptitude for math
  • 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

The minimum education requirement for pharmacy technicians is a certificate or diploma from a training program accredited by The Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP). Prospective pharmacy technicians should check the CCAPP website to ensure the program they intend to take is accredited.

Pharmacy technicians must also stay up to date with new products and practices.


Related Education

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

Bow Valley College

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

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

Red Deer College

Robertson College - Calgary

Selkirk College

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

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians work under the direction of pharmacists to promote safe and effective drug distribution. They may gather and store prescription and patient information, repackage products, compound and dispense drugs, manage inventory or teach the practice of pharmacy technicians.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Profession Regulation, registration with the Alberta College of Pharmacists (ACP) is mandatory if you meet identified competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public. Registered members, who are authorized by the College, provide restricted activities specified in the Regulation. Only registered members may call themselves Pharmacy Technicians, Pharmacy Technologists, Dispensary Technicians or Dispensary Technologists.

What You Need

Registration requires: (1) a certificate or diploma from a training program approved by the Council of the Alberta College of Pharmacists, (2) successful completion of a structured practical training program for pharmacy technicians, and (3) successful completion of examinations approved by the Council. Applicants who have been out of practice for a period of time also may have to demonstrate that they are currently competent to practice. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, contact ACP or visit the ACP website.

Working in Alberta

Pharmacy technicians who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered pharmacy technicians in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

Contact Details

Alberta College of Pharmacists
1100, 8215 - 112 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada  T6G 2C8
Phone number: 780-990-0321
Toll-free phone number: 1-877-227-3838
Fax number: 780-990-0328
Website: www.pharmacists.ab.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Most pharmacy technicians are employed in community pharmacies or hospital or medical centre pharmacies. Some are employed by health insurance companies, third party billing centres (for example, Alberta Blue Cross) or related organizations such as pharmaceutical companies, drug wholesalers and pharmacy supply companies.

Most pharmacy technicians find placements in neighbourhood pharmacies, hospitals, or medical centres. They can also work for:

  • Health insurance companies
  • Third-party billing centres such as Alberta Blue Cross
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Drug wholesalers
  • Pharmacy supply companies

Depending on the size and nature of the organization, experienced pharmacy technicians may advance to supervisory positions.

Pharmacy technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3219: Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health). In Alberta, 95% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

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 industries listed above)
  • 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

According to the Pharmacy Technician Society of Alberta (PTSA), there are about 1,450 practising pharmacy technicians in the province (2019 estimate).

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 medical technologists and technicians (except dental health)

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 $34.23 $24.08 $25.10
Overall $17.63 $44.71 $31.35 $35.23
Top $24.00 $59.29 $36.26 $37.38

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.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance
ALL INDUSTRIES
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

51%
51%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

36%
36%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

6%
6%

Vacancy Rate

1%
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

The Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP) website: ccapp-accredit.ca

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

The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) website: www.pebc.ca

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

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 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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