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Pharmacy Technician

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

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

  • 3414.4: Pharmacy Assistants

2006 NOC-S

  • D313: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services

2011 NOC

  • 3219: Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health)

2016 NOC

  • 3219: Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health)

2021 NOC

  • 32124: Pharmacy technicians

2023 OaSIS

  • 32124.00: Pharmacy technicians
Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Pharmacy technicians perform all aspects of drug distribution under the direction of a pharmacist. In general, they:

  • Gather and enter patient information and doctors’ prescriptions in computer systems
  • Assess prescriptions for completeness and authenticity
  • Receive and transcribe verbal prescriptions from prescribers
  • Prepare, package, and dispense prescription medications after a pharmacist has determined appropriateness of therapy
  • Transfer prescriptions on behalf of the pharmacist
  • Take responsibility for the accuracy of every prescription they prepare
  • Compound drugs and blood products
  • Ensure drugs are of good quality and in proper packaging
  • Ensure drugs have labels that help patients store and take the drugs properly
  • Collect, record, and maintain health information required to assess patients’ health and drug therapy needs
  • Share health information with other health professionals in keeping with laws respecting patient privacy and confidentiality
  • Contribute to reporting practice incidents and near misses
  • Maintain prescription and inventory record-keeping systems
  • Maintain proper drug storage and security
  • Help make changes to policies, procedures, and systems to ensure the integrity of the drug distribution system
  • Place and receive orders to maintain inventory
  • Help patients make informed decisions about health-care aids and devices
  • Train clients about the use of health aids and devices

They may also:

  • Participate in pharmacy practice research or other special projects and programs
  • Educate other health-care providers about pharmacy-related matters
  • Supervise staff, including students and pharmacy assistants

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

In community pharmacies, they may:

  • Help customers find non-prescription items
  • Refer patients to a pharmacist for assessment and to receive the most appropriate treatments
  • Compound non-sterile medications
  • 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
  • Maintain equipment used for point-of-care testing within the pharmacy
  • 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
  • Communicate with nurses to clarify orders and requests
  • Manage the use of automated compounding and dispensing devices
  • Work with clinical drug trials and investigational drugs
  • Collect and document information
  • Create best possible medication history reports about patients via patient records and interviews with the patient and their caregivers
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

Pharmacy technicians often work shifts, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Some hospital settings require night shifts. Because conditions are at times stressful, the work is demanding. Ensuring patient safety requires both accuracy and efficiency.

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

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 technicians need:

  • The composure to work under pressure with competing demands for attention
  • A caring attitude toward others
  • Professionalism and ethical standards
  • 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
  • Being accurate and verifying the work of others
  • 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 medical technologists and technicians (except dental health)

2016 NOC: 3219

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 122 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Jan 12, 2024 and May 26, 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: Maintain inventories of medications and prescription records of pharmaceutical products
Experience: 1 year to less than 2 years
Construction Specialization: Organized
Attention to detail
Tasks: Compound oral solutions, ointments and creams
Construction Specialization: Team player
Tasks: Bill third party insurers
Construction Specialization: Accurate
Tasks: Organize and maintain inventory
Tasks: Help with scheduling and workflow
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education 1 year post-secondary

The minimum education requirement for pharmacy technicians is a diploma from a 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. Continuing education is an annual requirement by the Alberta College of Pharmacy for registration.


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
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
Red Deer Polytechnic
Robertson College - Calgary

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 Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

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 [pdf], Health Professions Restricted Activity Regulation [pdf], and Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Profession Regulation [pdf], registration with the Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) is mandatory. Only regulated members may provide the restricted activities specified in the Regulations. This includes those who:

  • Meet identified competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public
  • Teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession
  • Use the words “registered” and “regulated” and the titles: pharmacy technician, pharmacy technologist, dispensary technician, or dispensary technologist
  • Use the initials: Pharm.Tech., Ph.T., or R.Ph.T.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Pharmacy Technician.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Most pharmacy technicians work in community pharmacies, hospitals, or long-term care facilities. 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 nature of the organization, pharmacy technicians may advance to supervisory positions.

There are about 1,960 practising pharmacy technicians in the province (Source: Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP), 2023 estimate).

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 3219: Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) occupational group, 94.6% 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 3219: Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) 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, 87 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. In addition, the number of pharmacies opening in Alberta is increasing at a higher rate per capita than the number of new pharmacy technicians. This has resulted in a shortage of pharmacy technicians (Source: ACP, 2022-23 Annual Report).

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 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 medical technologists and technicians (except dental health)

2016 NOC: 3219
Average Wage
$33.32
Per Hour
Average Salary
$60,881.00
Per Year
Average Hours
34.5
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3219 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.

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.


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 $16.00 $34.23 $25.02 $26.86
Overall $20.51 $50.19 $33.32 $35.54
Top $27.00 $59.28 $37.95 $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.

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
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
29%
29%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
43%
43%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
8%
8%
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

ACP’s Understanding Professionalism website: understandingprofessionalism.com 

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

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

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