The average salary of a pharmacy technician in Canada is $25 per hour or around $49,000 per year. The base salary is $37,000 a year. The pharmacy technician salaries can slightly vary by region.
A Highly Demanded Position
Pharmacy technician is one of the highest demanded positions in Canada. Since the Canadian population is slowly aging, the demand for healthcare professionals is steadily growing. Pharmacy technicians are getting competitive salaries.
Today, the number of licensed pharmacists, including pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants in Canada is a little over 42,000. They are working in over 10,000 pharmacies across the country. About 70% of these specialists work in community pharmacies. Others work in hospitals and other healthcare industries and government settings.
Pharmacy technicians (PhTs) earn more money than pharmacy assistants do because they have more responsibilities. The demand for technicians is usually higher than for assistants. Meanwhile, the time it takes to complete programs for each position is almost the same.
Pharmacy Technician vs Assistant
When people first start searching for career opportunities, these two positions may appear alike. In reality, they are drastically different but some similarities exist.
Pharmacy technician education requirements are more complex than the assistant’s. PhTs need to go through an accredited diploma program that comes with specific admission requirements. The program for PhT accreditation is longer than an assistant’s program.
At the end of the program, the pharmacy technician passes a pharmacy technician certification exam, receives a license, and becomes an official RPhT (Registered Pharmacy Technician). Before that happens, the students have to complete specific requirements. The requirements depend on the college they choose.
Depending on the program, it can take up to two years to become a licensed pharmacy technician. Some students complete the program within several months.
Keep in mind that after completing the program and before getting a job, the pharmacy technician has to purchase appropriate liability insurance.
In most parts of Canada, pharmacy assistant isn’t an accredited profession. While you still need to complete a training program, you won’t have to pass specific forms of examination or buy liability insurance.
Pharmacy assistants complete a pharmacy assistant program and receive a diploma. Once you have a diploma, you can get a job.
Pharmacy Technician vs Pharmacists
If you are a Pharmacy Technician who wants to become a pharmacist, you need to obtain an extra set of skills. Pharmacists are more clinically-focused than technicians and assistants are.
To become a pharmacist, you would need to complete five-year education and receive an MPharm degree. During the education process, you will gain knowledge in different sciences, including biology and chemistry.
Pharmacists take care of such duties as:
- Filling prescriptions
- Administering vaccines
- Consulting patients on how to take medication
- Making sure patients’ medications don’t interfere with each other.
Additionally, pharmacists oversee the work of technicians and assistants.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists with their primary tasks. Their responsibilities include:
- Collecting and recording data that is required to provide pharmacy services.
- Creating patient records
- Interacting with prescribers
- Recording prescription changes after receiving authorization from the prescriber
- Transferring prescriptions to another pharmacy when needed
- Checking new prescriptions and refilling prescriptions
- Answering questions that patients might have about certain drugs, healthcare products, and devices that don’t need a pharmacist’s knowledge or assessment
- Consulting patients about using healthcare products or devices
- Performing sterile compounding
- Instructing pharmacy assistants and students
Pharmacy technicians’ duties can vary depending on the setting they work in. So does their salary.
How to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
To become a pharmacy technician in Canada, you can enroll in a pharmacy technician training program at a college. Various colleges offer high-quality programs that can help you get your PhT diploma within two years.
Depending on the college you choose, you are likely to:
- Work with pharmacy teams and healthcare professionals to learn how to achieve patients’ health goals.
- Participate in experimental learning practices that may include placements in community pharmacies, hospitals or other settings. Many healthcare providers readily engage students in the learning process.
- Learn from practicing pharmacy experts.
- Develop abilities, skills, and knowledge in the main areas of ethical responsibilities, patient care, communication, and product preparation.
At the end of the course, PTs receive their PhT diplomas. If the college works by the standards of the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP), students learn to meet Professional Competencies for Canadian Pharmacy Technicians at the entry to practice.
Keep in mind that standards of practice for Canadian pharmacy technicians can vary by province or territory. Consider checking education and practice requirements for the province you plan to work in.
What Skills Should a Pharmacy Technician Have?
Common pharmacy technician skills include:
- Excellent communication – PhTs need to work with patients. That’s why they must have excellent patient-pharmacist communication skills. Since patients who are filling prescriptions are often in distress, a PhT must know exactly how to interact with them.
- Advanced calculations – PhTs have to work with different measurements and dosages. Accordingly, they need to have advanced calculations skills. While you can always use a computer, without these skills, your work could go much slower than needed.
- Top-Notch Organization – pharmacies and other healthcare settings are often highly fast-paced. Pharmacy technicians need to juggle a variety of tasks while consulting patients and helping pharmacists. Organizational skills are a must-have for PhTs who are want to get high salaries.
- Ethics – working with patients and their records requires excellent ethics skills. While you are studying to be a PhT, you will learn the legislation that regulates ethics for healthcare and pharmacy employees.
- Computer – to work in a pharmacy, you need to learn specific programs and apps. Good computer skills are required to help you work with various software.
A good PhT should also have satisfactory problem-solving skills and be good at critical thinking.
A pharmacy technician is a highly demanded profession in Canada. These specialists can earn over $50,000 per year. To become a skilled PhT, you need to take a training course and receive a license and diploma.
Experienced PhTs get higher salaries and have an opportunity to become pharmacists, who are also in high demand all across the country.