Pharmacists manage client prescriptions and communicate with medical teams to ensure the health of patients. In this article, we discuss the annual salary for pharmacists depending on location and specialty, as well as the steps and skills required to become a pharmacist.
Related: 5 Steps to Become a Pharmacist
The average salary for pharmacists
A pharmacist's salary is above the national average, which currently sits at approximately $30,000 according to StatsCan. The According to Indeed Salaries, pharmacists make a base pay of $46.50 per hour, or an annual salary of $96,720 per year. This information is based on anonymous data from both employers and employees.
The best provinces for pharmacists to work in
The exact income or salary will depend on the pharmacist's location and place of employment.
- Alberta: According to Indeed Salaries, the average wage in Alberta is approximately $45.00 per hour.
- Prince Edward Island: According to Indeed Salaries, the average wage in Prince Edward Island $42.70 per hour.
- Quebec: According to Indeed Salaries, the average wage in Quebec is $39.29 per hour.
- Saskatchewan: According to Indeed Salaries, the average wage in Saskatchewan is $50.43 per hour.
- Manitoba: According to Indeed Salaries, the average wage in Manitoba is $46.33 per hour.
- New Brunswick: According to Indeed Salaries, the average wage in New Brunswick is $44.48 per hour.
- Newfoundland: According to Indeed Salaries, pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador make an average of $46.39 per hour.
- Northwest Territories: According to Indeed Salaries, pharmacists in Northwest Territories make an average of $55.60 per hour.
- Nova Scotia: According to Indeed Salaries, the average wage in Nova Scotia is $44.76 per hour.
- Nunavut: According to Indeed Salaries, pharmacists make an average of $59.19 per hour in Nunavut.
- Ontario: According to Indeed Salaries, the average wage in Ontario is $45.19 per hour
- Yukon: According to Indeed Salaries, pharmacists in Yukon make approximately $48.27 per hour.
What does a pharmacist do?
Pharmacists have several responsibilities that aid patients and customers. Pharmacists primarily fill prescriptions and contact customers' doctors to ensure their patients are taking the medication. Pharmacists can provide patients with advice on the best ways to take their medication and can administer flu shots and vaccines.
If patients are taking other medication, the pharmacist will inform the patient on how these medications may interact and which side effects to be wary of. If patients injure themselves or require over-the-counter medication, the pharmacist will give them appropriate advice.
Here is some more information on the responsibilities of pharmacists:
- Managing medication. The pharmacist will manage patients' medication and will communicate information between the patient's doctor and the patient. The pharmacist will also monitor the patient in question for potential side effects.
- Confirming accuracy. Pharmacists look over drug prescriptions to ensure that patients are receiving the appropriate medication and dosage.
- Working in interdisciplinary teams. Pharmacists collaborate with doctors and medical teams to ensure the overall safety of patients. Pharmacists will be part of a patient's care plan.
- Maintaining regulations. The federal, provincial, territorial governments allow pharmacists to self-regulate. The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authority (NAPRA) is the mandating association nation-wide. Pharmacists have to abide by these regulations and meet licensing requirements to practice.
- Education. A primary responsibility of pharmacists is to educate their employees, patients, and other healthcare professionals.
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Becoming a pharmacist
Here are a few steps you'll need to take if you want to become a pharmacist:
1. Getting your bachelor's degree
Pharmacists need a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) to work in this profession. You'll first need to complete your bachelor's degree in pharmacology, one of the following science disciplines, or a related field:
- Chemistry. You'll need to take both organic and general chemistry.
- Biology. Depending on the pharmaceutical school you're interested in, you may need to take molecular and cellular biology.
- Human anatomy and physiology. Pharmacists need to take these courses to better understand how the human body functions and how medications may affect patients.
2. Applying to pharmaceutical schools
After completing your bachelor's degree, you need to apply to pharmaceutical school. These degrees take approximately three years to complete. Some institutions offer part-time or online courses for flexible learning. Pharmacy schools will cover the theory behind medicine and why particular medicines are necessary to treat patients' conditions. Here is a list of some classes and labs that you will cover in pharmaceutical school:
- General chemistry
- Organic chemistry
- Human anatomy
3. Getting your license
When you've finished pharmaceutical school, you'll need to apply for your license. This profession is a controlled career, so only those with licenses can apply to become pharmacists. Pharmacists need to apply to the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) and pass a qualifying exam to earn a license.
4. Complete internship or training
An internship allows pharmacists-in-training to develop practical experience before they enter the workforce.
Skills required to become a pharmacist
Here's a list of the skills you'll need to become a pharmacist:
Pharmacists need to have excellent verbal and written communication skills. Pharmacists are the ones who relay information between patients and their doctors. Because they collaborate with so many people, pharmacists need to listen actively and communicate with professionals and patients alike. It's important to understand how to read doctors' writing to administer the correct amount of medication.
Pharmacists need to be able to think critically about conditions and their various symptoms, as they need to find solutions for patients experiencing health problems. Pharmacists must complete extensive schooling that requires critical thinking and dedication to the profession. They need in-depth knowledge of medications and alternatives.
Attention to detail
Pharmacists need to be precise and pay attention to detail. By listening actively to patients, you can pick up on details that they may have missed. You'll also need to be precise when managing prescriptions and measuring medication.
Anyone working in a healthcare or a related field needs to be compassionate. Pharmacists should sympathize with their clients and provide support. A compassionate pharmacist needs to understand their patients concerns, but remain ethical in following the doctor's orders.
Pharmacists need to have significant emotional and physical stamina to flourish in this field. Physically, pharmacists spend most of their time standing and walking around the pharmacy helping several patients. Emotionally, these professionals spend most of their day listening to patients' concerns and have to field requests for more or stronger medication that hasn't been prescribed. They need to have good emotional stamina and the ability to separate their professional and personal lives.
Pharmacists need to be highly organized to keep medications, prescriptions, and patient records in order. They also need to be familiar with organization software like the Microsoft Office suite, and pharmacy management software like PrimeRX and Rx30.
Frequently asked questions about pharmacists
Here is a list of pharmacist FAQs:
What is the difference between a pharmacist technician and pharmacist?
Professionals of both fields work in pharmacies and help manage the needs of customers. Pharmacist technicians work primarily with delivering medical prescriptions to customers. Pharmacists, on the other hand, often supervise pharmacy technicians and are expected to uphold greater professionalism and responsibility.
How much do pharmacists work?
Pharmacists generally work full-time unless they're asked otherwise. Keep in mind that many pharmacies are open 24/7, so they may be asked to work overtime, on weekends, and on holidays.
Is being a pharmacist fulfilling?
Many find being a pharmacist fulfilling because it provides you with the opportunity to interact with and help customers on a daily basis. This career also provides pharmacists with the opportunity to work in healthcare and to move up in organizations. Some decide to become pharmaceutical representatives or to work in research.
What is the work environment like?
The majority of pharmacists will work in hospitals and pharmacies. Because these teams tend to be smaller, pharmacists immerse themselves in their workplace community. The workplace for pharmacists tends to be clear and well-organized because pharmacists manage customer medication that can't be contaminated.
Pharmacists also spend the majority of the day working on their feet and interacting with various personality types, which is why they have excellent stress-management skills. Pharmacists learn how to navigate fast-paced situations and how to deescalate high-stress situations.
Because pharmacists can work at any time of year, they also need to have a flexible schedule and need to give advance notice when they cannot work on particular days.