How Do You Become A Pharmacist in Canada? (Real Pharmacist Opinions)

Are you planning to build your career in the pharmacy field? Before getting into any field, it is good to do proper research. If you want to become a pharmacist, you should check out whether pharmacy a good career in your country.

In this post, we will talk about a career as a pharmacist in Canada. If you are from Canada, should you pursue PharmD? How are pharmacy schools in Canada? How much money pharmacists make in Canada? All of these questions will be answered. Let’s start with a basic question:

Who are pharmacists?

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who work in the pharmacy. The main job of a pharmacist is to ensure medication delivery. A pharmacist needs to make sure the dispensed medical safe to use. Pharmacists prepare and package medication that a doctor has prescribed, and they also sell the medication over the counter.

Pharmacy and pharmacists are of different types. It includes community, retail, hospital, ambulatory care, clinical, industry, etc.

A pharmacist’s job is not limited to counting pills and packaging them as per the prescription by the doctor. They are responsible for other tasks as well. Some main job responsibilities of pharmacists are:

  • Preparation of medication by reviewing and interpreting physician orders
  • Serve patients by preparing medications
  • Dispenses medications by compounding, packaging, and labeling pharmaceuticals.
  • Controls medications by monitoring drug therapies; advising interventions.
  • Provide pharmacological information
  • Complying with state and federal drug laws
  • Supervising the work results of support personnel

How long to be a pharmacist in Canada?

If you want to become a pharmacist in Canada, the time it will take will be based mainly on the school you select. Let say, if your school has adopted the entry-level PharmD program, then you will need two years of undergraduate and then a PharmD program of 4 years. This turns out to be a total of 6 years.

On the other hand, if your school is using the bachelor of science in pharmacy, then you will need one year of undergraduate prereqs and then four years of PharmD program. This makes it a total of 5 years of university.

Is pharmacy a good career in Canada?

The answer is Yes. The pharmacist is going to be one of the most high demand occupations in Canada. In fact, according to the Candian government, pharmacists are one of the 29 high-demand occupations in Canada. However, there isn’t a shortage of pharmacists in Canada. After becoming a pharmacist in Canada, you won’t have much difficulty finding a decent job. Note that the demand for pharmacists may differ from one geographical location of Canada to another.

Internationally trained pharmacists can also apply for the pharmacy job role in Canada. So, even if you are not from Canada, it can be a good idea to do a pharmacist job in Canada. Depending on your skills and education, you can apply for becoming a clinical pharmacist, retail pharmacist, community pharmacist, hospital pharmacist, or industry pharmacist.

How much does a pharmacist make a year in Canada?

It is good to know the payout before choosing any career field. The salary of a pharmacist differs based on various factors. It includes factors like skillset, experience, location, etc.

The average salary of a pharmacist in Canada is about $94,799 per year. In Canada, the salary may differ based on your region. For example, a pharmacist’s average salary in Alberta is around $117,566 a year, while in Manitoba, the average pharmacist salary is $50,608 a year.

In Saskatchewan, the average pharmacist salary is about $109,200. In Newfoundland, it is about $100,055. In British Columbia, it is $94,799. In Ontario, it is $94,117. In Nova Scotia, it is $88,167. In New Brunswick, it is $85,800. In Quebec, it is $81,394.

Becoming A Pharmacist In Canada According To Real Pharmacists

We didn’t want you to only take our word for it so we went out and gathered information from different websites and forums to get real pharmacist feedback on getting employed in Canada. We curated this information and the only thing we changed was any spelling/grammar where needed.

Real Pharmacist Opinions

1. Dr. Pill “Not as much education needed there” – So a B.pharm is enough to practice in Canada? Why would anyone choose to go to school in the US if your ultimate goal is to go back to Canada to practice?

2. KennethCool “Most pay about the same” – Hospital pharmacy in Canada pays about the same as in the USA. You can jump right in without doing a residency. Also, healthcare if free. This is a big deal if you have a bunch of kids.

3. KenWhine “Probably be a shortage since switching to PharmD” – During the PharmD conversion, I’m willing to bet they will have a temporary shortage like we had in the USA in the early 2000’s. I’d imagine that pay will increase and working conditions will be much better. It looks like there will be 3 tests involved. You must pass the equivalent of their NAPLEX... it’s split into 2 parts. Plus a third exam for the province.

4. Dipea “Residency becoming the norm” – I don’t know anywhere else, but in Ontario, residency is becoming the norm for anyone who wants to go hospital route. The starting pay of a hospital pharmacist with residency now is ~$41/hr in GTA, much lower than US average, and with the possibility of going even lower. I got that number from a newly hired hospital pharmacist who just finished his residency, so you get that idea.

5. Apotheker2015 “Easy in some areas” – Google is your best friend. I read an article about British pharmacists being offered relocation perks to settle in certain areas. Don’t know where the link is.
The process to move to Canada is lengthy. I looked through forums and it seems like there are a lot of folks with BS Pharm. There are so many that anyone with a PharmD just waits forever. There is a perk for being a US graduate. I believe a pre-test is waived or something like that.
The whole thing is too new to know where it’s going. There are people in this forum who have asked the “what about Canada?” question in the past, and have gone quiet shortly after. Maybe they moved?

6. Yfrulla “May have to do interning” – I am a Canadian pharmacist currently living in the US and just got licensed in Nevada . I have a B pharm in Canada but now the program is PharmD since 2011 i think . I have my licence in Quebec and I think that any foreign grad needs to do 17 months of internship and some examination , possibly like NAPLEX and definitively a law exam . But every province is different , Check their respective boards . Best of luck !
FYI , retail pays between $55 to $70 an hour depending if you are willing to travel and do relief work .

7. Lord999 “A Lot to it” – Pharmacist Evaluating Examination – Introduction

No longer automatic. You can apply to PEBC, but they are not obligated to accept your application for even consideration. But if your application is accepted, the process is similar to the Irish Pharmaceutical Society’s process. Good luck.

@superrx01 Speaking from the perspective of having both (due to the old NAFTA reciprocity between Manitoba and Minnesota), the rules have changed since then. I assume that you are going to attempt the English exam (I actually don’t know how Laval or Montreal’s graduates with the French version works in Quebec).

So the steps are:
1. You have to register with the PEBC and go through their process (except Quebec). Do this now, as the PEBC has to qualify you to sit for the exams and there is some major paperwork involved. As a Canadian national, you will not need to demonstrate work eligibility. Because you are an American graduate, you skip the PEE process and proceed straight to the PQE. The first sitting in summer is sometime in June with a terminal application date (meaning everything must be cleared by PEBC) by sometime in March.

2. For each province with the exception of Quebec, there are specific registration matters to each province. Quebec has two, one for the English speaking and one for the French speaking and you qualify with either one. Figure out which province you are intending to license in (MB is straightforward).

3. Prepare for the PQE, there is a LIVE practical portion that requires your communication to be up to par. The other sit-down exam is set differently than NAPLEX, it is much more science heavy from people who have taken it in the last couple of years than the NAPLEX is now (you will actually get serious questions on pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry than the NAPLEX).

4. If you are going to prepare for the PEBC PQE, don’t bother studying for NAPLEX. You’ll easily cruise through NAPLEX while the PEBC tends to be a tricky exam due to the topic coverage. I passed with some room to spare, but that was a difficult exam in terms of the pharmaceutics (I didn’t realize I needed the actual Martin’s version of Fick’s diffusion to attempt the exam!).

8. BidingMyTime “PharmD vs B.Pharm) – Seriously, The PharmD vs B.Pharm isn’t that much more desirable. Having graduated when people were getting both Pharm D’s and B.S., and for many years after that, nobody cared what specific degree you had. Maybe if you were applying for a residency. Places cared that 1) you were licensed and then 2) what experience did you have? I don’t think even today that any place really cares that much about a PharmD vs a B.S., it’s just the B.S. dates someone as an older employee, so it makes it easy for an employer to legally age discriminate if they want to.


Pharmacy Schools in Canada

As we have seen, a career as a pharmacist in Canada is one of Canada’s in-demand occupations. Completing the pharmacy studies from Canada can help you earn a decent job. The chances of getting a high-paying job increase when you complete it from the best pharmacy school. Here is the list of best pharmacy schools in Canada:

University of Toronto

The University of Toronto is the best global university in Canada. In terms of world rankings, this university gets the number 18 spot. The university was established in the year 1827 as a colonial college by the Church of England. It is the most prestigious college in Canada. It is known for providing the best research-intensive environment. The University of Toronto is among the eight universities in the world ranked in the top 50 of 11 subjects.

The University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia (also known as UBC) was founded in 1908, and it is the public research university with an annual research budget of $600 million. The university is spread across 993 acres. Its main campus has a mix of old buildings and new buildings.

University of Alberta

University of Alberta (UAlberta) is a public institute located in the province of Edmonton. The university was established in 1908. UAlberta has over 40,000 students from over 170 countries. If you are planning to pursue a pharmacy career field in Canada, the University of Alberta can be the right choice.

University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo (U Waterloo) was established in 1957 in Ontario, Canada. U Waterloo courses are in Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Engineering, Mathematics, and Sciences. It has been ranked for Canada’s No. 1 comprehensive research university in the annual Canada Top 50 Research Universities survey.

Final Thoughts

If you plan to build your career in the pharmacy field, Canada could be the right choice. According to the government of Canada, pharmacists are one of the 29 high-demand occupations in Canada.

Hence, after completing the pharmacy education, it won’t be tough for you to get a decent job. How much you can make after becoming a pharmacist in Canada will be based on factors like your region, skills, experience, knowledge, etc.

With Canada transition to PharmD only there may be a shortage for a short term of Pharmacist so likely getting your PharmD now is the way to go whether in the U.S. or Canada is up to you. If you are not a citizen of Canada and wish to become one it looks like it is a lengthy process that is for sure.


Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

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