Pharmacy Technician

What is a Pharmacy Technician/Assistant?
Related job titles
Major duties
Qualifications and requirements
Who are the employers?
Where to find job postings?
Professional associations and contacts
More relevant links
Sample job posting

“Please note that if you cannot get registered as a pharmacist, you may be able to work as a pharmacy technician. For this, you do not have to register with the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP). However, OCP offers voluntary certification for pharmacy technicians. This certification may help you get a job as a pharmacy technician.”
— Foreign-trained Pharmacy Graduates e-factsheet, OCP

What is a Pharmacy Technician?
A Pharmacy Technician provides technical and clerical support to pharmacists. Unlike pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians cannot counsel patients and cannot take prescription information over the phone.

In September 2001, the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) approved a draft version of a pharmacy technician competency profile. Click here to read all related documentation and an archive of questions and answers.

Related job titles

  • pharmacy assistant
  • pharmacy helper
  • pharmacy cashier
  • pharmacy clerk

According to the Environmental Scan of Pharmacy Technicians, September 2001, the word “technician” is often used to describe any non-pharmacist in a pharmacy who assists in dispensing. Any person may call himself or herself a technician without having completed technical certification.

Major duties
The responsibilities of a Pharmacy Technician are varied depending on the specific pharmacy. Under the supervision of one or more pharmacists, a pharmacy technician’s essential duties include:

  • assisting the pharmacist in the day-to-day operation of the pharmacy
  • measuring, mixing, packaging, labeling and delivering drugs
  • restocking medications and related supplies
  • identifying expired products for disposal, destruction, or return to manufacturer
  • inputting prescriptions into the computer system
  • maintaining computerized lists of medications taken by patients
  • filling medication orders
  • maintaining inventory
  • dealing with clients on a one-to-one basis, directing them to items or the pharmacist for medication consultation
  • looking after home health-care products such as canes, vision aids and hearing aids
  • pre-packaging medications (including unit dose packaging)

Sometimes duties may also include:

  • answering telephones
  • receiving written prescriptions
  • cleaning and sterilizing dispensing bottles and instruments
  • answering questions regarding non-drug products
  • operating a cash register
  • preparing receipts, invoices, letters and memos, and general filing
  • receiving and sending electronic communication
  • delivering medications to institutional wards

As noted by the OCP, there are some tasks a pharmacy technician must refer to the pharmacist, such as: communicating with customers, physicians and suppliers; handling questions relating to prescriptions, drug information, poison information, or any health matter. For more information, read The Role of the Pharmacy Technician by The Ontario College of Pharmacists.

You may encounter these “buzz words” and catch phrases related to what is expected of a pharmacy technician:

  • retrieve client records from the computerized database
  • enjoy working with the public
  • possess strong interpersonal skills
  • work effectively both independently and as part of a collaborative team
  • follow specific instructions with a high degree of accuracy
  • demonstrated commitment to the mission and values
  • customer service focused
  • problem-solving skills

Qualifications and requirements
Often the first qualification mentioned in the job postings is:

  • graduate of an approved Pharmacy Assistant Program, or
  • applicants must be graduates of a recognized pharmacy technician program or equivalent.

The evaluation of your non-Canadian education is extremely important in this case. But some retail pharmacies may require no more than a high school diploma that includes courses in chemistry and biology.

  • Certification (CPhT) with the Ontario College of Pharmacists is preferred.
    Read about this voluntary certification here.
  • Knowledge of the English language is essential.
    Your communication skills and knowledge of terminology play a vital role.
  • Computer keyboard skills are preferred.
    This may mean not only your typing speed but also your skills with certain computer programs.
  • Accuracy is important. There is no room for error.
    This work is demanding. You will have to prove your ability to work with a high level of accuracy, providing examples from your experience.

Other required qualifications may include:

  • organizational and time management skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • ability to work with minimal supervision

Consult with the Proposed Pharmacy Technician Competency Profile by the OCP to find out more.

Salaries vary depending on the pharmacy, the location and the skills and responsibilities of the technician. Those working in retail can expect to start at approximately $7.50 to $8.50 per hour while those working in hospitals earn approximately $17 to $22 per hour.

According to the Situational Analysis of Human Resource Issues in the Pharmacy Profession in Canada, July 2001, college-trained and certified technicians in Ontario earn an average of $11.60 per hour in community pharmacies and $33,124 annually in hospitals.

Like all health care professionals, pharmacy technicians must be prepared to work long hours when necessary, sometimes under stressful conditions.

Who are the employers?
The majority of jobs are in retail pharmacies. Other employers include

  • hospitals, and community pharmacies

Occasionally, you may also find these positions with

  • pharmaceutical companies
  • insurance companies

Technologists & Technicians in Health Care Workbook is part of the StepsToEmployment series. It contains basic orientation to health-related occupations in Ontario including Pharmacy Technicians. It introduces occupation-specific terminology and workplace communication. This manual is in PDF format. If you do not already have Adobe Acrobat Reader click here to download and install it. Use the Find button on the Adobe Acrobat Reader to search for the term pharmacy technician. Use the Find Again button as many times as needed.

Where to find job postings?

  • HRDC – Ontario
    Try searching in the Keyword Search box 

    • by NOC code: 3414
    • by keywords: pharmacy AND NOT pharmacist (to exclude registered pharmacists’ positions)
    Workopolis’ health care positions.
    Scroll down and explore the Pharmacy Technician category.
    North America’s job board for health care professionals.
    Click on the Pharmacists category and then go to the Pharmacy Technician link.
  • Pharmacist and Pharmacy Technician Job Board
    North American Job Bank for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmaceutical industry professionals. Select Ontario from the Location box to view all available positions.
  • Ontario Hospital Association (OHA)
    OHA lists all hospitals by region and then alphabetically. Browse or search to find a hospital that you are interested in. Click on the bullet and explore the website. In most cases, you have to find the site map and then employment or career opportunities. Consider enquiring directly as well.
  • The Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS)
    There are 22 members of this association — Canadian retail chain pharmacies. Explore their websites, find Ontario locations, learn their philosophy and check out their job opportunities.Examples:

    – Shoppers Drug Mart – job postings
    Apply for the in-store positions directly at the store of your choice. Did you know that Shoppers Drug Mart provides financial assistance with the licensing exams? Read How Shopper’s Drug Mart can help you to become a Canadian licensed Pharmacist

    – Metro – Available Positions
    This chain includes more than 50 full-service pharmacies across Ontario. Apply online or at the store using the store locator

    – Canada Safeway Ltd.
    Explore pharmacy technician job opportunities at Safeway stores.

    – Pharmasave
    Select the position from the drop down menu and read the job description. You may enquire directly at the store as well.

    – Main Drug Mart
    This company has 51 locations across the GTA. Go to the Locations link to find individual stores. Enquire directly.

    Includes Guardian, IDA, RxCentral and CDM Community Drug Mart pharmacies. Use a store locator to find individual stores and enquire directly.
  • Genuine Health
    If you are interested in non-traditional pharmacies, you may also consider exploring some alternative and health food stores’ chains in Ontario. Find stores in the area of your choice and enquire directly.

Professional associations and contacts
As usual, professional associations are an excellent source of information on what is happening in the field. Ontario Pharmacists’ Association (OPA) offers membership to Pharmacy Technicians. Explore the benefits of purchasing a membership. The chapter Becoming a Pharmacist introduces you to the process of becoming licensed.

Canadian Association of Pharmacy Technicians (CAPT) facilitates communication and information exchange between technicians. Contact the association through the website if you need any information about Pharmacy Technicians.

More relevant links
International Pharmacy Graduate Program (IPG)
A description of the University of Toronto bridging program designed to assist foreign-trained pharmacists to acquire a license to practice pharmacy in Ontario. Here is an opinion of the program, written by one of the participants.

Resources for Pharmacists
A collection of professional resources by the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto.

Sample job posting

Please note that this authentic job posting is presented as a sample here. Do not apply for this job! Instead, study the format and vocabulary in order to become more familiar with this style of job posting.

Pharmacy Technician – Ward 7S Neurosurgery – #20311

Location: CITY, ON
Job Category: Medical, Pharmaceutical
Industry: Healthcare
Company URL: http://www.
Date Posted: Feb 13, 2003
Contact E-mail:

CITY HOSPITAL is an academic health sciences centre whose primary role is health care delivery. Our hospital is one of the largest in Ontario, operating four sites and employing approximately 8,000 staff members. Through our partnership with UNIVERSITY, we promote continuous learning and improvements through innovative education and research.
Competition #: 20311 UNION LOCAL ####
Pharmacy Technician
1 Position(s)
Ward 7S Neurosurgery, Mental Health & Neurosciences, General
Regular Full-time
75 hours per pay
$ 17.5266 – $ 17.9861 per hour

Unit Profile:
The Neuroscience program provides inpatient and outpatient neurosurgical and neurological service across the continuum to individuals who suffer from brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, cerebral vascular accidents, spinal cord injury, laminectomy etc.

Position Summary:
Within this inpatient setting, the pharmacy technician will be responsible for technical medication-related activities including distribution, preparation and knowledge of medication administration processes including pharmacist delegated tasks such as pass medications and ASO lists. Other responsibilities will include: liaison with clinical pharmacists & other team members, and the inpatient pharmacy team; contributing to improved patient safety; teaching nursing staff and students about IV admixtures; using computer technology to perform daily operations. Some coverage of Medicine units 8S & 8N will be included in this role.

Scheduled Working Hours: days, evenings, weekends, holidays


  1. Graduate of an approved Pharmacy Technician/Assistant Program
  2. Minimum of three years recent experience in an inpatient pharmacy of a tertiary care setting
  3. Previous experience working with an adult population
  4. Knowledge of an inpatient pharmacy dispensing process
  5. Knowledge, skill and ability in IV admixture and TPN preparations
  6. Eligible for certification for pharmacist delegated tasks (for example, pass medications)
  7. Demonstrated ability to organize ward medication inventory
  8. Demonstrated computer skills – Microsoft Office, Meditech, Internet
  9. Demonstrated ability in teaching sterile medication preparation
  10. Demonstrated excellent interpersonal, communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and organizational skills
  11. Demonstrated initiative
  12. Demonstrated commitment to professional development

Proficiency in both Official Languages would be an asset.
HOSPITAL is an equal opportunity employer

Please apply directly with a cover letter and resume quoting the competition number to:

Recruitment, Human Resources
Contact E-mail: