Searching for how to become a pharmacist in Canada? Then you must read carefully. A pharmacist gives out medicines and tells people how to do so safely. To become a pharmacist, you must meet the requirements of the governing body in your province or territory and have work experience.
This article tells you how to become a pharmacist, what skills you need, and what jobs you can apply for. We also talk about the most common questions people have about pharmacists.
What Does a Pharmacist Do?
Most pharmacists work in places like drug stores, grocery stores, and big-box stores.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that pharmacies and drugstores are where 42% of pharmacists work.
Pharmacists in these places have many responsibilities, such as making sure that medications are given safely (for example, by making sure they won’t interact with a patient’s other medications or allergies), teaching patients about their medications, and managing a staff of pharmacy technicians and aides.
Hospitals are the other main place where pharmacists work. The BLS says that 26% of pharmacists are employed by hospitals.
As the US population keeps getting older, hospitals and other places that provide health care are likely to need more pharmacists. Pharmacists who work in hospitals also do a lot of different things.
They prepare medicines for patients, give advice to hospital staff about which medicines to use, and teach patients about their medicines and how to use them.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacist?
There are usually two ways for students to get to where they want to be as pharmacists. One way is to go to college and get a traditional bachelor’s degree.
If a student chooses this course, they must study as an undergraduate for at least two years, but most will study for four years and get a bachelor’s degree to be competitive for graduate pharmacy programs and finish all pre-requisite courses.
The other option is a combined program, also called a dual degree program, in which you get both your bachelor’s degree and your PharmD at the same time.
Dual degree pharmacy programs are also called “0-6” programs because they usually take six years to complete. The first two years are spent on pre-professional studies, and the last four years are spent getting a professional pharmacy degree.
All provinces that license pharmacy technicians require the PEBC Certificate of Qualification. All provinces except Quebec require the PEBC Certificate of Qualification for pharmacists. This is true for Canadian and foreign-trained pharmacists.
How to Become a Pharmacist in Canada
- Check the steps involved
- Check Your Secondary School Grades
- Enroll in a University
- Earn a Degree [‘PharmD’ vs. PhD, MSc and BSc}
- Prepare for the National Board Examination
- Take the National Board Examination Through the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC)
- Check the different rules by the different states about getting a license and choose which state to work in.
- Get Practical Experience
- Join a Professional Organization and Get a License
- Be Fluent in English or French
Enroll in a University and Earn a Degree
To become a pharmacist, you must first get a bachelor’s degree in science or a doctorate in pharmacy.
A bachelor of science takes four years to finish, while a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program takes at least two years.
You can go to one of ten accredited universities, and the requirements for applying to each one are different.
Take the National Board Examination Through the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC)
As soon as you finish your pharmacy program at a university, you can take the national board exam.
The test asks you questions about the following:
- Patient care
- Health promotion
- Practice setting
- Health promotion
- Communication and education
- Quality and safety
- Intra and inter-professional collaboration
- Knowledge and research application
- Ethical, legal, and professional responsibilities
The first part of the exam is made up of multiple-choice questions, and the second part is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). The PEBC’s national board exam is not required in Quebec.
Get Practical Experience
After passing the national board exam, you must finish a training program that gives you hands-on experience.
Most of the time, this training is done with the help of a licensed pharmacist.
This kind of experience can be gained through co-op, an internship, or an apprenticeship. Students put what they learn in school to use with these programs.
Join a Professional Organization and Get a License
The Canadian Pharmacists Association is a group you might want to join.
You can also join the group in charge of rules and regulations in your province or territory and get a license to legally work as a pharmacist.
For example, in British Columbia, pharmacists are regulated by the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia. Different states have different rules about getting a license.
Be Fluent in English or French
Lastly, you should learn how to talk in English or French. This is because, these are the two major languages in Canada.
What Skills and Qualifications Do Pharmacists Need?
To do their jobs and responsibilities well, pharmacists need to have strong soft skills. They also need to have hard skills and know a lot about clinical pharmaceuticals. Some of the skills and credentials that pharmacists need to be successful are:
1. Teamwork Skills
Pharmacists need to know how to work with doctors, nurses, and other health care workers. Teamwork skills include being able to listen and talk about your ideas with other people.
2. Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills
Pharmacists help people take their medicines safely and must be able to figure out what their needs are. To keep your customers safe, you must also look at how different medicines affect them.
3. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
You need to know how to talk to people if you want to be a pharmacist. You need to know how to talk to patients clearly and ask doctors for important information.
4. Leadership Skills
Pharmacists need to know how to lead pharmacy technicians, pharmacy clerks, and other professionals toward a common goal. They must be good at getting people to do things and leading them.
5. Attention to Detail
A pharmacist has to follow prescriptions and give safe medicines to customers. As a pharmacist, you need to pay attention to details and be well-organized.
6. Computer Proficiency
Most of the time, pharmacists use computer systems to look up a patient’s record, update prescription information, and check insurance information. You must know how to use the software system and enter data in your pharmacy.
What Positions Can You Apply for as a Pharmacist?
Pharmacists can do many different things in different places. Here are some jobs you can apply for if you want to become a pharmacist:
1. Staff Pharmacist
Pharmacists on staff give out medications and run the pharmacy. They also look at reports, put in place safety controls, and teach people how to take their medicines.
Their jobs include doing quality assurance reviews and making sure that the law is followed. According to Indeed Salaries, a staff pharmacist makes an average of $99,890 a year.
2. Clinical Pharmacist
A clinical pharmacist works with doctors, nurses, and other people in the medical field. Their jobs include giving out medicines and keeping an eye on patients.
They decide if a patient can take a certain drug and give advice to doctors on how to change the pharmacotherapeutic plan.
According to Indeed Salaries, a clinical pharmacist makes an average of $107,291 a year.
3. Pharmacy Manager
Pharmacy managers are in charge of how a pharmacy works every day. They keep a list of all the medications and help customers.
Pharmacy managers teach patients how to take their medicines and what side effects they might have.
They talk to doctors and prescribe medicines based on the rules set by the law. According to Indeed Salaries, a pharmacy manager’s average annual salary is $104,052.
4. Pharmacist in Charge
The main job of a pharmacist in charge is to run and oversee how a pharmacy works every day. They hire people to work in pharmacies and answer questions from patients.
The person in charge of the pharmacy orders new drugs and gets rid of old ones.
They make sure that the pharmacy follows the rules and laws that are in place. Indeed Salaries says that a pharmacist in charge makes an average of $138,412 per year.
5. Director of a Pharmacy
Most of the time, a director of a pharmacy is the head of a pharmacy. They are in charge of running and running the pharmacy.
They also oversee the work of other employees and make sure that patients get the best customer service possible.
A pharmacy director buys and keeps medicines in stock.
They make plans to improve services and put those plans into action. A director of a pharmacy works with other department heads and reports to the team in charge of the company’s top management.
According to Indeed Salaries, a director of a pharmacy makes an average of $106,788 a year.
How to Become a Pharmacist in Canada for International Students
Pharmacy courses in Canada teach students enough about how medicines work and how they can be used for therapeutic purposes.
Students from all over the world can take pharmacy classes at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels at some of Canada’s best pharmacy schools for international students.
International students can also choose from a number of certificate and diploma programs in the field of pharmacy.
Pharmacy is one of the most popular courses in Canada, and a student who gets a Master’s in Pharmacy can find a job as soon as he or she finishes.
A survey by the Canadian Pharmacists Association found that there aren’t enough skilled pharmacists to meet the growing demand for postgraduates in pharmacy (CFA).
There are two types of master’s degrees in pharmacy: an MS in Pharmacy or an MPharm. These degrees can be specialized in areas like pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacology.
In Canada, to get a Master’s in Pharmacy, you have to study chemicals and biological systems for two years to learn how to make therapeutic drugs.
In Canada, students in a master’s in pharmacy program learn a mix of academic research, job skills training, and professional pharmacy skills.
How to Become a Pharmacist in Canada from India
You can’t be a registered pharmacist, a clinical pharmacist, or a pharmacy technician in Canada if you’re in your own country, like INDIA.
But it’s great to know that you can start the process of becoming a pharmacist in Canada from India. But you have to be a real resident of Canada to finish this process.
Before you can learn how to become a registered pharmacist in Canada, you need to know what PEBC is. Want to know what PEBC is? PEBC is an organization that checks the qualifications and skills of people who want to get a license to practice pharmacy in CANADA.
To be direct Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) is Canada’s national body for certifying pharmacists.
The PEBC Board looks at qualifications, makes exams, like the national Qualifying Examination, and gives out Certificates of Qualification. how to become a clinical pharmacist in Canada if you are from India
All you need to know is that taking the exam has nothing to do with having a PR, Express Entry, or anything else related to immigration.
However, you will need a visa to enter Canada in order to take the exams. As long as you can enter and show up for the exam at the right time, that’s all that matters to the PEBC.
In all provinces that regulate pharmacy technicians, the PEBC Certificate of Qualification is needed to get a license to work as a pharmacy technician.
The PEBC Certificate of Qualification for pharmacists is a requirement for licensing in all provinces except Quebec. This is true whether the pharmacist was trained in Canada or somewhere else.
Is it hard to become a pharmacist in Canada?
In general, it’s not an easy job to have. It takes a long time and a lot of schooling, but once you’ve done all that, you’re set for a stable career.
Being a pharmacist can be very demanding. Once you graduate from the university, depending on the type of pharmacist job you have, you can be in a very busy store and you can have many people coming in to get prescriptions filled each day.
You must be very good at communicating, multitasking, and paying attention to details if you must succeed.
Not only is there a demand for pharmacists but there is an expectation that this field will have even more job opportunities in the next 10 years.
How much schooling does a pharmacist need in Canada?
The PharmD program is 4 years long (3 years of classes and 1 year of work experience). It comes after 2 years of college study.
Can a foreigner become a pharmacist in Canada?
There are so many options for international pharmacists who want to come to Canada. You can do that through:
- Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP)
- British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP)
- Express Entry System
Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP)
This program is a quick way for foreign pharmacists to immigrate to Canada because the MPNP has an in-demand list of occupations. We have found that pharmacists are on the list.
The program has been found to work under the express entry system. This implies that the chances of being selected in a draw are much easier.
It is also important to note that, for this program, language skills are very important. You can learn about the MPNP here.
British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP)
BC PNP has a stream for healthcare professionals and the province holds weekly PNP draws.
For anyone that is looking to come to Canada quickly, this is another great option. In order to be considered for the draw, candidates need to register a profile online.
You can find out how BCPNP works here.
Express Entry System
The Express Entry system gathers all the applications from three different programs. For a pharmacist, it is best to submit your application under the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
Through the FSWP you can immigrate to Canada as a pharmacist. Just like most programs, you will have to qualify based on the selection criteria and you must score high enough to be issued an invitation.
When applying, you need to submit documents like:
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results;
- Police clearance;
- Your identification cards, passport, or birth records;
- Medical exam documents;
- Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)
You can find information here about how Express Entry works.
Migration From Other English-Speaking Countries
When immigrating to Canada from the UK, USA or Australia, the process involved is slightly less difficult. This is because the educational standards and teachings are on Par and the type of healthcare provided is also very similar.
Other things that play a role in trimming down the learning curve are language and cultural similarities.
International pharmacists from these countries assimilate a lot faster, as they tend to do very well themselves.
Life in Canada for Foreign Pharmacists
It is no secret that there is a significant shortage of Pharmacists in the healthcare industry. Therefore, this is a great time for foreign pharmacists to consider moving to Canada.
The pharmaceutical field is a very lucrative one and it is a highly respected career in Canada. The job security for pharmacists in Canada is top-notch, as there will always be a need for medication.
Depending on where you work and the kind of pharmacist you are, you are sure to make anywhere between $84,000 to well over $120,000 a year!
Interestingly, individuals can own their pharmacies too and can therefore make even more.
Requirements for Foreign Pharmacists in Canada
As an international pharmacist, you can work in Canada, but you must meet all the criteria first. Pharmacists are regulated through the province, the requirements do vary from one province to another. In this section, we shall be listing the basic steps involved.
Step 1: Register on Pharmacists Gateway Canada
Step 2: Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) will review your application to ensure ECA and training meets the Canadian standards.
Your skills and experience will also be reviewed. Afterward, you will have to take and pass the written exam and pass an Objectively Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).
Step 3: Register with the provincial pharmacy regulating body.
Step 4: Successfully complete a structured, practical training program.
Step 5: Receive your license and practice.
Information for High School Students and Guidance Counsellors
Today’s pharmacists are able to manage a wide range of medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure; they can give flu shots, conduct medication reviews and assess minor ailments. You may wish to view the information provided by the
Canadian Pharmacists Association at http://www.pharmacists.ca/index.cfm/pharmacy-in-canada/
If you would like to contribute to improving the health care of others, are detailed oriented, a good problem solver and
good communicator, enjoy working with people, have an excellent grasp of basic sciences, and are committed to lifelong learning, you may want to consider a career in Pharmacy.
To become a licensed pharmacist in Canada you are required to successfully complete an accredited university-level entry-to-practice Pharmacy degree program, followed by national Board exams, as well as successful completion of the requirements of the provincial licensing body of the province in which you wish to practice.
The professional entry-to-practice degree program offered at the University of Toronto is a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program and has replaced the BSc in Pharmacy (BScPhm) program.
The PharmD program is 4 years in length (3 years of academic courses plus one year experiential) and follows two years of initial university study.
All other Canadian universities that offered the BScPhm degree in the past are now offering the PharmD entry-to-practice degree.
Learning about Pharmacy
While pharmacy experience is not an admission requirement, and no admissions preference is given to those who have pharmacy volunteer or work exposure, the Faculty recommends that all applicants learn about pharmacy practice to ensure that they have a basic understanding of the profession and an appreciation of the role of pharmacists in caring directly for individual patients and the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes this role demands.
While there are many ways you can learn about the profession you may want to consider compiling a list of Pharmacy career-related questions and then contacting, and arranging a meeting with, a pharmacist in your area.
Most pharmacists are happy to meet with prospective applicants to answer questions about the profession. You may also visit the Canadian Pharmacists Association as part of your web-based exploration.
Choosing High School Courses
To ensure you will be meeting all admission requirements and pre-requisite requirements for Pharmacy and the relevant first-year university courses, you should include English, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Calculus (MCV4U Calculus and Vectors) as well as a second Math (MHF4U Advanced Functions) in your Grade 12U program.
University-level Biology, Chemistry, and Calculus have Grade 12U (or equivalent) pre-requisites. The second math is a prerequisite for the first-year Calculus course at many universities including the University of Toronto.
Secondary School Grades
The PharmD program is a ‘second-entry’ program, admitting applicants from the university level rather than the high school level. As a result, overall high school averages are not considered when applying for admission.
Although secondary school grades are not used in the calculation of any averages for admission consideration you may, however, use a Grade12U credit (or equivalent from other educational systems) to meet the Physics subject requirement.
All other subject requirements must be met at the university level.
‘PharmD’ vs. PhD, MSc and BSc
The PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) is an undergraduate program and is a professional designation.
It requires only 2 years of university study for admission, whereas PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) programs are graduate research programs that typically require at least 6 years of university-level study, including a 4 year BSc and a 2 year MSc program, for entry.
Graduate degree programs (MSc and PhD) will not qualify you for licensure as a pharmacist – they are geared to candidates who are interested in research. Remember, it is the PharmD designation (or BScPhm at some other Canadian universities) that you will need to become licensed as a pharmacist in Canada.
It is not necessary to complete a degree program to meet the academic admission requirements for our PharmD program – most students are able to meet the academic requirements within only 2 years of university-level study!
Once admitted to our PharmD program it will take 4 years to complete the program regardless of prior education or work experience.
There are various pharmacy-related BSc degree programs (for example, Pharmacology or Pharmaceutical Chemistry) but these general science programs alone do not qualify you for licensure as a Pharmacist even though there may be some overlap in course material between the programs.
There is no advantage, as part of the admission process, to students who choose programs with some related material (such as those mentioned above).
It is important to note that Pharmacy Technician/Assistant programs, which are offered in the Ontario community college levels and which are typically only 1 to 2 years in length are not considered for admission or transfer credit purposes.
Choosing a University and Program of Study
For purposes of meeting the academic admission requirements to our PharmD program, you may apply to any recognized university, as long as the courses offered are comparable to our published pre-requisite courses.
When you apply to a university directly from high school you will likely be applying to a BSc (Bachelor of Science) degree program.
The stream/program of study and the ‘subject of major interest’ you choose to study is not relevant provided it permits flexibility in choosing courses.
Most students apply to a Faculty of Arts and Science (or at some universities it may be called Faculty of Science) for a Physical or Life Science or a general science program.
Physical and Life Science programs include but are not limited to, subjects/areas of study such as Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pharmacology, and Toxicology.
Provided you apply to any general science program you should be able to register for all required subjects (including at least one Humanities/Social Science).
Students pursuing a Humanities/Social Science stream can also meet the requirements, provided appropriate high school pre-requisites in sciences/math have been completed and your university allows you to incorporate the required math and science subjects into your timetable.
If you choose a very specialized program – for example, another professional program such as Engineering or Nursing – you likely will not have the flexibility to choose courses that meet our academic requirements.
Application Process for Pharmacy
The PharmD program is a ‘second-entry’ professional program which means that we admit applicants from the university level rather than the high school level.
Candidates normally become eligible to apply to our PharmD program during their second year of university.
It is not necessary to complete a degree prior to applying; however, you may choose to wait and apply after your third or fourth year of university – or even after completing a graduate degree (e.g. Master’s or PhD); it’s up to you to apply at whatever point you feel ready.
Some universities, including UofT, offer Master’s and Ph.D. programs to which PharmD graduates may decide to apply to.
The online applications normally become available by mid-September of each year for the following year’s admission.
The online application is accessible directly from the Pharmacy website (note that we are not part of the OUAC application system).
If you apply during your second year of university you will likely be submitting your application before you have completed all of the required subjects.
Provided you anticipate that you will be completing all required subjects by April of the year for which you are applying (and assuming you will also be meeting other admissions criteria such as the PCAT) you will be eligible for admission consideration if you have submitted your online application by the deadline (which usually occurs early January).
Some universities may offer conditional acceptance or pre-Pharmacy programs requiring that you attend that particular university for your first year at university.
For admission to the University of Toronto’s Pharmacy program, you are free to attend the university of your choice in preparation for the study of Pharmacy – you may choose to attend a university that is close to home if that is more convenient or desirable for you.
Just be sure to carefully plan your timetable and choose suitable courses from among the wide range of courses offered at the many universities.
If you are attending an Ontario university (or the University of British Columbia, or McGill University), click here to access the link to the table listing examples of acceptable prerequisite courses.
If the university you are attending is not listed, and you are unsure of your course selection after reviewing the published information, you may contact our Admissions Office for guidance.