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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.

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 medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) (3219) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) (3219) 
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 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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

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.

Traits & Skills
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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2011 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)

2011 NOC: 3219

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 69 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Sep 23, 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.
Tasks: Ensure the information on prescriptions is accurate, enter client information in databases and prepare medications for clients
Tasks: Maintain inventories of medications and prescription records of pharmaceutical products
Tasks: Bill third party insurers
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Organized
Maintain inventories of medications and prescription records of pharmaceutical products
Ensure the information on prescriptions is accurate, enter client information in databases and prepare medications for clients
Tasks: Compound oral solutions, ointments and creams
Bill third party insurers
Personal Suitability: Organized
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Minimum Education 1 year post-secondary

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
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, 2019
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

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.

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

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 3219: Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 96 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: 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 medical technologists and technicians (except dental health)

2016 NOC: 3219
Average Wage
$31.35
Per Hour
Average Salary
$56,641.00
Per Year
Average Hours
34.1
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 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 $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.

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

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%
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

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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