Experts Answer: 6 Pharmacy Assistant FAQs 

Pharmacist reviewing shelves of products

Pharmacy assistants are people who assist licensed pharmacists as they dispense medications. As such, pharmacy assistants work under the direction of the pharmacist to measure, package, compound, and distribute medications.  

If you’re curious about a career as a pharmacy assistant, you might want to learn the answers to these frequently asked questions. 

Is There Demand for Pharmacy Assistants? 

In general, yes, there is high demand for pharmacy assistants in Western Canada. In fact, there is expected to be more demand for pharmacy assistants in the future as the medical system grows to support our aging population. 

In addition, pharmacy assistance is a career where you can be paid well, considering the amount of school needed to start the job. The median wage is $20/hour, with higher wages reaching $27/hour for pharmacy assistants. This means that the career has strong income opportunities now and into the future. 

What Kind of Person Would Make a Good Pharmacy Assistant?

A pharmacy assistant is a great role for someone passionate about health care but not necessarily the stress, bodily fluids, or direct patient contact associated with other health care roles. Of course, pharmacy assistants will talk to patients, but most of their work involves organizing, keeping records of, and preparing medications. 

Usually, the kind of person who wants to be a pharmacy assistant is naturally detail oriented, likes to work as a member of a team, cares about other people’s privacy, and can understand the details of medications and the laws surrounding them. 

What Do Pharmacy Assistants Do? 

Pharmacy assistants have a wide range of tasks. They work as part of a team to keep the pharmacy running and provide medications. A pharmacy assistant might be tasked with the following: 

  • Labelling and counting out medications 
  • Speaking with customers and handling their payment 
  • Taking patient’s prescriptions and medications 
  • Stocking shelves and using software to manage inventory 
  • Compounding and measuring pharmaceutical products 
  • Record keeping, placing, and receiving orders for medications 
  • Managing proper storage, safety, and security of the products 
  • Dealing with some aspects of insurance claims and record keeping 
  • Providing patients with information 

What Do Pharmacy Assistants Need to Know? 

You need to do some schooling to learn how to do the job properly. Your education should include detailed instruction on these topics: 

  • Anatomy and physiology 
  • Medical terminology 
  • Pharmacology 
  • Pharmacy practices 
  • Pharmacy software 
  • Institutional and community pharmacy practices 
  • Compounding 
  • Calculations 

A good program will also seek to prepare you for your future career with both in-class instruction and a practical component of your education. 

Are There Opportunities for Growth? 

There might be. Pharmacy assistants can become dispensing agents. If you enjoy the field, you might also seek further training. 

Want some additional information on a career as a Pharmacy Assistant in Calgary? Read our blog on all you need to know about pursuing a Pharmacy assistant career!

Where Can I Learn to be a Pharmacy Assistant? 

ABES College offers a Pharmacy Assistant program. In only six months and with a six-week practicum, you can get started in a career as a pharmacy assistant. Contact our admissions team today to learn more.