Is being a pharmacy assistant the right fit for you?

The Last Pharmacy Assistant Career Guide You’ll Ever Need

These guides are full of essential information written by pharmacists, providing you with everything you need to know about the pharmacy assistant profession.

Pharmacy Assistant Resume

Pharmacy Assistant Training

Job Outlook

Popular Pharmacy Programs

How to Become a Pharmacy Assistant

Career Advancement

Pharmacy Assistant Courses

Pharmacy Assistant Resume

Pharmacy Assistant Training


Pharmacy Assistant

What is a pharmacy assistant?

In Canada, the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system is used by the federal government to classify jobs based on the type of job duties and work a person does. This system undergoes a major revision every 10 years. By reviewing the changes that have been made to the job description of a pharmacy assistant, we can get a better understanding of the changing role of a pharmacist assistant.

The 2011 NOC has the pharmacy assistant listed as code 3414, which classifies the pharmacy assistant as a worker who provides services and assistance to health care professionals and other health care staff.

Pharmacy assistants help pharmacists and other pharmacy staff with their technical and physical tasks. This can include packaging and labelling pharmaceutical products or helping maintain accurate prescription records and inventories of medications and pharmaceutical products.

To become a pharmacy assistant, you need to have a NOC Skill Level of C, which means you will need to have secondary education and/or on-the-job training.

Starting from the 2021 National Occupational Classification, pharmacy assistants and pharmacy technical assistants will now be classified under the new code: 33103.

This update covers additional duties that can be expected of a pharmacy assistant. In addition to clerical functions, pharmacy assistants may be asked to perform technical tasks that are related to preparing medications under the supervision of a pharmacist. For example, this can include helping compound oral solutions, ointments and creams.

They may also assist in managing patient files by entering clients’ information and prescription details into databases. Pharmacy assistants may also be expected to process medical billing information as well as price and stock items on shelves.

The NOC Skill Level has been replaced with the Training, Education, Experience and Responsibility (TEER) system in order to make it easier to determine someone’s qualifications for a job.

A pharmacy assistant has a TEER level of 3, which means that this occupation usually requires the completion of a Pharmacy Assistant college program, ranging from six to twelve months or the completion of secondary school and several months of on-the-job training.


Pharmacy assistants assist pharmacists by handling the administrative tasks required to keep a pharmacy operating smoothly.

They refill the shelves with medication and other pharmaceutical supplies, take care of the cash register, and handle phone calls. They also help the pharmacist and pharmacy technician prepare prescriptions, greet customers and refer medical questions to the pharmacist .

Computer literacy is necessary for the pharmacy assistant position because it may be necessary for you to enter customer and prescription information into the computer system, type and print prescription labels, respond to emails and faxes, take inventory, track it, and resupply as necessary.

The pharmacy assistant also assists with accepting and processing deliveries, sorting and stocking medications, gathering and bagging prescriptions for delivery to consumers, and professionally fielding phone calls.

Administrative tasks include filing, copying documents, counting cash registers, assisting with invoicing requirements, controlling the cash register and completing transactions, and reporting any significant difficulties to the chief pharmacist.

In addition, pharmacy assistants must be calm in stressful situations, have compassion for people, have strong communication skills, be mentally attentive while performing routine activities, and have manual dexterity and attention to detail.

Pharmacy assistants are expected to be interested in utilizing computers, and following well-defined procedures.


We have been tracking the wages of pharmacy assistants in major Canadian cities and we have found that they have been increasing significantly compared to levels before the pandemic. This could be due to a variety of reasons such as increased pharmacy workload, lack of worker availability and inflation.

In the Vancouver and Toronto areas in particular, wages have increased by a premium of $2-6 an hour compared to the 2019 wages.

Salaries for pharmacy assistants used to be only slightly higher than the minimum wage, but now there is a larger premium over the hourly minimum wage. A large number of job openings exist because pharmacies need the extra help, but many of them are going unfilled because there aren’t enough qualified applicants applying. The high demand for jobs has led to a shortage of qualified applicants, which in turn has caused wage rates to increase.

Skills that are in high demand, such as compounding experience, can command a higher premium. In Vancouver, one compounding pharmacy is offering an hourly wage of $20-24 for compounding experience.

The postings for pharmacy assistant jobs will usually list an expected salary range, with experience fetching a higher wage. We have noticed employers offering salary ranges of $18.00 to $27.00 and $16.00 to $25.16 depending on the level of experience an applicant has.

In general, pharmacy assistants in Canada can expect to earn an average of $20.50 an hour or $46,280 annually based on a 40 hour work week. To see our full pharmacy assistant salary breakdown, check out our guide here.

Is pharmacy assistant in demand in Canada?

Yes, pharmacy assistants are in high demand in Canada and this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank website, the pharmacy assistant profession is expected to have good job opportunities over the next 3 years in most provinces. This increase is expected due to an aging population, increasing healthcare needs, and a shortage of healthcare professionals.

From our analysis, we think that there is a good possibility of a pharmacy assistant shortage in the near future. As a result of COVID-19, many provinces are starting to recognize the important role pharmacists can play in the delivery of health services.

Pharmacies have become essential health centers in Canada, offering a variety of services such as COVID-19 vaccinations and testing.

There is also a family doctor shortage in Canada, which some provinces are trying to address by allowing pharmacists to take on an expanded role.

Most recently in British Columbia, pharmacists will be allowed broader vaccination authority and the ability to prescribe for certain minor aliments.

Pharmacies will be busier than ever due to these general changes in the scope of practice. To meet the increased demand for pharmacy services, pharmacies will need to employ more support staff, such as pharmacy assistants.


What is a pharmacy assistant?

A pharmacy assistant is a support worker who assists the pharmacist in performing technical and administrative tasks that are necessary for the pharmacy to function. These tasks may include packaging and labeling prescription medications. Pharmacy assistants are not licensed and are not regulated, which means that they must always work under the supervision of a pharmacist. Additionally, pharmacy assistants are not allowed to provide medical advice or counsel patients.

How much do pharmacy assistants make an hour?

Pharmacy assistants in Canada typically earn an hourly wage that ranges from $13.00 to $27.00 an hour, with the average wage being around $20.50 an hour. However, this figure can vary depending on your location, experience and qualifications. You can find out more about hourly wage breakdowns by province by reading our discussion here.

How much does a pharmacy assistant make?

A pharmacy assistant in Canada typically earns an annual salary that ranges from $30,717 to $46,280 based on a 40-hour work week. This figure will vary depending on your experience and qualifications. In addition to wages, pharmacy assistants will typically receive benefits such as paid time off, health insurance, vacation pay, and staff purchasing discounts. You can learn more about salary wage breakdowns by province by reading our discussion here.

Do you need qualifications to be a pharmacy assistant?

A pharmacy assistant is required to have good customer service skills. To be successful in this field, you need to have strong communication as well as excellent organizational abilities. You also need to be comfortable working with people and being on your feet for long periods of time. You must be able to work calmly under pressure and be able to handle numerous tasks simultaneously. In addition, you should have a knowledge of pharmacy medications, procedures, and safety practices.

How to become a pharmacy assistant?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the requirements and path to becoming a pharmacy assistant vary depending on the location and type of pharmacy. However, here are some general tips that may help:

  1. Find a pharmacy that is looking for assistants and apply – Pharmacies are always in need of extra help, and often offer competitive wages and benefits. It’s important to do your research and find a pharmacy that is a good fit for you – not just in terms of salary, but also the hours you would be working and the hours of operation.
  2. Get experience – Although not required, getting experience working in a pharmacy can be very helpful. This experience can come in the form of volunteer work or internships.
  3. Pursue certification – A certification from an accredited pharmacy assistant program can demonstrate your skills and knowledge. This can be valuable when applying for jobs or when seeking promotions within a pharmacy.

If you’re interested in becoming a pharmacy assistant, these tips should help you get started on the right path. We hope that they provide you with some useful information!

Good luck in your pursuit of becoming a pharmacy assistant!

What does a pharmacy assistant do?

A pharmacy assistant works under the direction of a licensed pharmacist in a retail or community pharmacy setting. Some of the typical duties of a pharmacy assistant may include:

  1. Greeting and assisting customers: Pharmacy assistants may be the first point of contact for customers entering the pharmacy. They may greet customers, answer basic questions, and direct them to the appropriate staff member.

  2. Processing prescriptions: Pharmacy assistants may receive and process prescription orders, verifying information such as patient name, medication, dosage, and quantity.

  3. Handling inventory: Pharmacy assistants may be responsible for maintaining an accurate inventory of medications and supplies. This may involve stocking shelves, rotating stock, and placing orders as needed.

  4. Handling financial transactions: Pharmacy assistants may handle cash and other financial transactions, such as processing insurance claims and accepting payment for prescriptions.

  5. Assisting the pharmacist: Pharmacy assistants may assist the pharmacist in various tasks, such as preparing medications, maintaining records, and performing administrative tasks such as answering phone calls and managing paperwork.

It’s important to note that while pharmacy assistants may perform certain tasks related to medications, they are not licensed to provide counseling or answer questions regarding medications. Those tasks are reserved for licensed pharmacists.

Do you need experience to be a pharmacy assistant?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as experience will vary depending on the specific pharmacy assistant position you are looking to fill. However, most positions typically do not require any prior pharmacy experience. Many people start out as pharmacy assistants without ever having worked in a pharmacy before.

Employers typically value experience when it comes to hiring and many will consider having completed an accredited Pharmacy Assistant program as a valuable asset.

What is the difference between a pharmacy technician and a pharmacy assistant?

The main difference between pharmacy assistants and pharmacy technicians is that pharmacy technicians are licensed health professionals who are regulated by their respective provincial college of pharmacists. In order to become a pharmacy technician, you must first pass several written exams and complete a minimum amount of professional development activities each year.

The scope of practice for pharmacy technicians includes the ability to perform the final check of prescription products to ensure that the right drug is dispensed. The medication must not be released until a pharmacist has assessed the patient. In some provinces, such as British Columbia, pharmacy technicians have the authority to administer COVID-19 vaccines under the supervision of a qualified licensed health care professional.

Pharmacy assistants are non-regulated unlicensed pharmacy employees who may perform restricted activities such as dispensing (packaging and labeling medications) and compounding only under the direct supervision of a pharmacist.

Is being a pharmacy assistant hard?

Being a pharmacy assistant can have its challenges, but it is generally not considered a hard job. Pharmacy assistants typically work in retail pharmacies and are responsible for tasks such as processing prescriptions, managing inventory, stocking shelves, and handling financial transactions.

While the tasks themselves may not be difficult, pharmacy assistants may need to be able to multitask and work efficiently in a fast-paced environment. They may also need to deal with difficult customers, manage a busy workload, and stay up to date with changes in pharmacy policies and procedures.

However, with proper training and experience, most people can become proficient in the role of a pharmacy assistant. Good communication skills, attention to detail, and a willingness to learn are all important qualities for success in this job.


The Last Pharmacy Assistant Career Guide You’ll Ever Need