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Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians work under the direction of pharmacists compounding, preparing and dispensing prescriptions and pharmaceutical products and providing services that promote health and wellness.

  • Avg. Salary $35,922.00
  • Avg. Wage $21.61
  • Minimum Education 1 year post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 5,300
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Dispensary Technician

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 medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) (3219) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

45%
45%
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 Dec 19, 2016

Pharmacy technicians work under the direction of a pharmacist. Their duties and responsibilities vary depending on where they work (in a hospital or community pharmacy). 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 for stock to maintain inventory
  • instruct patients about the use of health aids and devices.

Other responsibilities depend on the setting. For example, in community pharmacies, pharmacy technicians 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 (for example, disease management screening and consultation clinics)
  • price stock and mark items for sale.

In hospital settings, they 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 that are kept for specific types of emergencies (for example, 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.

In addition to the duties and responsibilities listed above, technicians may:

  • participate in pharmacy practice research
  • educate other healthcare providers about pharmacy related matters
  • supervise other staff, including pharmacy assistants.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Pharmacy technicians 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 to ensure patient safety; there is no room for error.

Pharmacy technicians 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 technicians 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
  • proficient math skills
  • good problem solving and decision making 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
  • a willingness to keep up to date with new products and practices.

They should enjoy having clear rules and organized methods for their work, compiling information and using computers.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

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).


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 NW

Selkirk College - Castlegar

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

Prospective pharmacy technicians are advised to check the CCAPP website to ensure the program they intend to take is accredited.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

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 Dec 19, 2016

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.

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 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.

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.

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

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 $13.00 $25.00 $18.11 $16.25
Overall $15.00 $32.25 $21.61 $20.00
Top $17.73 $49.00 $25.82 $24.10

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
ALL INDUSTRIES
Retail Trade
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

45%
45%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

45%
45%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

4%
4%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care 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

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

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

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

Pharmacy Technician Society of Alberta (PTSA) website: www.pharmacytechnicians.ab.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 Works Centre near you.

Updated Apr 11, 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.

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