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Pharmacist: Alternative Careers

In BC, pharmacists prepare and dispense prescribed drugs. They also provide consultations on medications to both clients and health care providers. They work in hospitals, universities, government, pharmaceutical companies, and retail pharmacies.

You may find that your international training and experience as a pharmacist are not immediately accepted in B.C. The skills you have acquired as a pharmacist (strong ethical sense, strong mathematical, computer, written and verbal communication skills, and good manual dexterity) can be used in these alternative careers:

  • Pharmacy Assistant (NOC 3414)
  • Pharmacy Technician (NOC 3219)
  • Technical Sales Specialist (NOC 6221)

Pharmacy Assistant (NOC 3414)

Also look for these job titles: pharmacy aide, pharmacy supply assistant, pharmacy technical assistant

You help pharmacists with the day-to-day needs of running a pharmacy. You may work for retail, hospital or clinic pharmacies.

Duties include:

  • help pharmacists by preparing, packaging and labelling pharmaceutical products
  • help maintain prescription records and inventories of medications and pharmaceutical products


  • secondary school graduation; workplace training provided


  • excellent customer service skills
  • professional sales experience
  • highly organized with excellent problem solving skills
  • detail oriented
  • manual dexterity


Pharmacy Technician (NOC 3219)

You have independent authority and responsibility to prepare prescriptions under the direction of a pharmacist. You may work for retail, hospital or clinic pharmacies.

Duties include:

  • prepare medications for clients
  • maintain inventories of medications and prescription records of pharmaceutical products
  • ensure the information on prescriptions is accurate
  • enter client information in databases
  • bill third party insurers



  • detail oriented
  • computer skills
  • manual dexterity
  • work well as part of a team


Technical Sales Specialist (NOC 6221)

Also look for these job titles: pharmaceutical representative, sales support specialist

You are employed by pharmaceutical companies to promote and educate health care workers about pharmaceutical products. You may enjoy this job if you like marketing and have a good knowledge of body systems, pharmacology and strategic business planning.

You may sell a range of scientific and industrial products to governments and to commercial establishments in Canada and internationally.

Duties include:

  • promote sales to existing clients; identify and solicit potential clients
  • assess clients’ needs and recommend the appropriate goods or services
  • provide input into product design where goods or services must be tailored to suit clients’ needs
  • estimate costs of installing and maintaining equipment or service
  • prepare and manage sales contracts


  • usually four-year college or university program in a relevant field
  • experience in sales or in a technical occupation related to the product or service may be required


  • speak, write and read English
  • listen well and be able to explain and/or sell your product
  • monitor trends and changes in pharmacology and marketing
  • be accountable, attentive to detail, professional and punctual


Employment Outlook

Canada’s aging population has increased the demand for prescriptions being filled by pharmacists. Many jobs will be created in retail pharmacies as more supermarkets and general merchandisers open pharmacies in their stores.

Pharmacy Assistant (NOC 3414)
Job Openings Outlook in BC

employment outlook for pharmacy assistant
Source: WorkBC

Pharmacy Technician (NOC 3219)
Job Openings Outlook in BC 

employment outlook for pharmacy technician
Source: WorkBC

Technical Sales Specialist (NOC 6221)
Job Openings Outlook in BC

employment outlook for technical sales specialist
Source: WorkBC


You may want to consider upgrading your skills to increase your employment options in this field. The following courses may improve your current skills:

Vancouver Community College, Pharmacy Technician Program
30 weeks, full time certificate program, including practicum in the community

Kwantlen Polytechnic University: Professional Communications for Internationally Educated Health Professionals (IEHP)
Improve your communication in order to gain employment in the Canadian health care system.

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Open Learning: Medical English
Strengthen your understanding of medical terminology as it is used in a Canadian health care context. 30 week program, web-based instruction

Searching for Jobs

B.C. Health Authorities
Regional services including publicly funded hospitals and residential care facilities
(select link for each region and then go to ‘Careers’)

B.C. Provincial Health Services Authority Job Postings
Lists jobs available in specialty institutions such as BC Transplant, Women’s Hospital, BC Children’s Hospital

Providence Health Care

Health Match BC
A free health professional recruitment service funded by the Government of British Columbia


Volunteering in the Field

Volunteering can help you to explore a new career and learn more about the health care system in BC. You will meet new people and build a network of contacts that can lead to information on job openings and inside connections with potential employers.

Canadian Red Cross

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority

Fraser Health Authority

Providence Health Care

Volunteer BC

Helpful Resources

Pharmacists Gateway Canada for International Pharmacists

BC Pharmacy Association

College of Pharmacists of BC

Canadian Association of Pharmacy Technicians

Choose the following links for further assistance: