Overview

Learn to prepare prescriptions, manage inventory and be the first point of contact in assisting pharmacy customers.

As our communities grow and the population ages, there is a vital need for trained assistants to support pharmacies.

In this program, you’ll train to support pharmacy operations and staff in addressing the health needs of diverse populations. Through theory-based and hands-on laboratory learning, you’ll gain professional skills to prepare you to work under the supervision of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

You'll practice pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacotherapy, order processing, and clerical functions in your first semester. You’ll also learn about compounding and inventory management.

In your second semester, you’ll gain real-world experience by applying your professional communication skills and practicing your theoretical knowledge in a community pharmacy practicum.

You'll experience success in this program and profession by developing the following traits, skills and aptitudes:

  • fine motor skills
  • effective communication skills (speaking, reading, writing, and listening)
  • ability to work independently and with others
  • adaptability
  • ability to work well under stress, maintain professional behaviour and emotionally self-regulate
  • ability to use technology
  • attention to detail
  • willing to work extended hours, including nights and/or weekends, and shift work
  • ability to assist in transporting, lifting, and positioning patients and/or equipment and meet the physical demands of the job (for example, spending most hours working on your feet, walking, bending and other repetitive tasks).
  • ability to use your hand, wrist, and arm for prolonged periods
  • ability to type at 35 wpm in the English language with high accuracy.

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to refer to the ALIS website for career, learning, and employment information for Pharmacy Assistants for more information on this profession.

The opportunity to advance your education by transferring into this program or gain credit for previous postsecondary courses may be available.

There may also be opportunities to further your education by transferring to another institution once you graduate.

Learn more about program and institution transfer options.

You'll participate in a practicum during your second semester, where you'll apply your knowledge and skills in a pharmacy setting with a designated clinical partner. 

The School of Health and Public Safety has many practicum partners located in Alberta and Canada. Practicum placements in Calgary are limited, and you may be required to travel or relocate outside the city.

Successful applicants will be assigned their practicum placement. While we'll strive to assign your practicum location based on your preference, it is not guaranteed. Special considerations will not be given. You will be responsible for fees associated with the practicum, such as entrance requirements, relocation and travel costs.

In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, you will be requested to provide proof of the following requirements:

  • Police information check
  • Health and wellness status

Learn more about practicum requirements >

The rural stream of the Pharmacy Assistant program, offered in the spring intake each year, addresses a need for services in Edmonton and rural Alberta. As such, all practicum placements will occur within Edmonton and rural Alberta.

Only applicants with a home address (living) in those regions will be eligible for admission to the program. Calgary addresses are not eligible to apply.

In this intake, you'll attend your lectures online and laboratories on campus and subsequently complete a practicum placement. To accommodate students with significant distances to travel, on-campus lab days will be scheduled in groups of four to five consecutive days and occur approximately once per month.

Practicums will be arranged outside the Calgary area in collaboration with SAIT’s partner pharmacies. Though the location is not guaranteed, you are encouraged to consider your ideal practicum location beforehand. There is a high demand for pharmacy assistants in Edmonton and the surrounding area.

Upon completing this program, graduates will receive a SAIT Pharmacy Assistant certificate.

Download program info

Careers and opportunities

Each year, SAIT conducts a survey between February and April to determine the employment rate, salary and satisfaction of our newest SAIT alumni. 

people icon 100% graduate employment rate

salary icon $39,520 average starting salary

Find out more about our graduate employment statistics >

Our graduates may work in the following occupations. Some careers require additional experience and education.

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Career counselling and support

Unsure which career path is for you? SAIT offers career planning services to help you decide your future.

You can also get started by taking our online career finder quiz, which can help you narrow down your search based on your current skills and interests.

Finally, you can also head to Alberta alis for various tools and resources, including additional quizzes and labour market information to help you narrow down a career path.

Services and workshops

Courses

The Pharmacy Assistant certificate requires 24 credits (10 courses) to complete.

The program spans 21 weeks, over two semesters. All courses must be completed within this timeframe. 

View classes by semester

Course Credits

This applied computer course provides students with critical electronic communications, data and file management skills, along with a strong focus on using common productivity applications to format, calculate, analyze, visualize, and present or report data and information.

Equivalents:
  • COMP 264
1.5

In this course, students develop proficiency, accuracy and efficiency in the essential calculations used in pharmacies. Students review basic mathematical principles, including fractions, measurements and conversions, and apply them in pharmacy-specific situations.

3

Students will encounter complex patient scenarios and apply problem-solving and decision-making skills to determine which pharmacy services to provide. They will practise compounding and preparing compliance packaging. Students will also investigate inventory management and safety practices in a health-care setting.

3

In this course, students will look at the roles and responsibilities of a health-care team, and study techniques for handling workplace conflict. Students will also examine assistive devices used in home care and the third-party insurance plans related to them.

1.5

In this course, students will develop the skills required to complete prescription transactions. In a lab setting, they will perform pharmacy operations related to analysis, data entry, insurance, prescription preparation and patient interaction.

3

This course explores basic anatomy, physiology, medical conditions and medical terminology. Students will explain basic pharmacology concepts related to body systems. These concepts include the generic names, trade names, therapeutic uses, and side effects of commonly prescribed medications. In addition, students will interpret abbreviations and symbols used to write prescriptions.

3

Focusing on efficiency and accuracy in a lab setting, students will apply problem-solving and decision-making skills to prepare a variety of prescriptions. They will demonstrate proper pharmacy workflow and patient interactions through simulations and complex scenarios.

Pre-requisites:
  • PHAR 204
  • PHAR 270
  • PHAR 271
  • PHAR 272
Corequsites:
  • PHAR 275
  • PRAC 213
1.5

In this course, students will apply pharmaceutical product knowledge to review prescriptions. They will also examine the range of pharmaceuticals that do not require a prescription and explore institutional pharmacy practice. In addition, they will analyze patient eligibility for pharmacy services.

Pre-requisites:
  • PHAR 273
Corequsites:
  • PHAR 274
  • PRAC 213
1.5

In practicum, students apply their knowledge, skills and attitudes in a pharmacy setting with a designated clinical partner. Students have an opportunity to interact professionally with health-care teams and patients to process prescriptions and provide patient care. Students will experience routine practices as they relate to patient and health-care practitioner safety. Reflective learning practices are also incorporated into this practicum experience.

Pre-requisites:
  • PHAR 204
  • PHAR 270
  • PHAR 271
Corequsites:
  • PHAR 274
  • PHAR 275
3

As future health-care professionals, students need strategies for working effectively, respectfully, ethically and legally in interdisciplinary teams. In this course, they will explore decision making, ethics, team dynamics, cultural awareness, interpersonal style and communication in the health-care setting. In addition, they will review laws and regulations related to the practice of pharmacy.

Pre-requisites:
  • PHAR 270
  • PHAR 272
3

Progression

Students must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better in each semester and pass the necessary prerequisite courses to progress through the program. To qualify for graduation, students must pass all courses, attain a CGPA of 2.0 or better and complete course requirements within the prescribed timelines.

Review our grading and progression procedure >

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Explore your options!

Some courses in this program are available through Open Studies. You can complete courses via Open Studies to get a head start on your education, reduce your course load once accepted into a credentialed program, or determine which career path best suits you before you fully commit. 

You may also take courses for general interest or personal and professional development.

Available Open Studies courses

Admission requirements

Applicants educated in Canada

All applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency and meet the following requirements or equivalents with an overall average of at least 60%:

  • Math 30-1 or Math 30-2, AND,
  • English Language Arts 30-1 or English Language Arts 30-2.

SAIT accepts high school course equivalents for admission for applicants educated outside Alberta.

All applicants who were educated outside of Canada must demonstrate English Language proficiency and provide proof they meet the program admission requirements with an international document assessment. Find out what educational documents are accepted and assessment options.

SAIT may also accept courses completed at certain international post-secondary institutions.

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Academic Upgrading

Missing an admission requirement for this program? Upgrade your prior education to help you receive admission into one of SAIT's career programs.

Upgrade
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English language proficiency

All applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency prior to admission, including students educated in Canada.

Learn more

Available intakes

Spring 2024

Start dates:

Domestic students: Open
  • Application deadline: Feb. 23, 2024

Fall 2024

Start dates:

Domestic students: Open
  • Application deadline: June 28, 2024

Costs

2023/24 tuition and fees

The following costs are effective as of July 1, 2023. They are an estimate of tuition and fees based on the recommended course load per year.

Domestic students

Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 2 $7,416 $1,570 $8,986
Total cost:
$8,986

Books and supplies are approximately $500 per full-time year.

This is a bring-your-own-device program with a standard computer hardware and software requirement. See the specific requirements on our computers and laptops page.

Find your booklist on the SAIT Bookstore's website. The booklist will be available closer to the program start date. Can’t find your program or course? The bookstore didn't receive a textbook list. Contact your program directly to determine if they’re still refining course details or if you're in luck; no textbook purchase is required this term.

You are responsible for any additional expenses related to your practicum, including pre-practicum requirements outlined by the program and relocation costs to practicum sites outside of Calgary.

Required personal protective equipment (PPE)

You are required to wear scrubs to your labs. Scrubs must be cleaned and pressed.

All lab equipment will be provided, and a lab fee will be charged to you at the SAIT Bookstore.

Additional fees

  • There is a fee associated with obtaining a Police Information Check, including a Vulnerable Sector Check and is payable to the Police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
  • A fee of approximately $50-$100 is associated with an Electronic Student Permit Checking submission required for clinical practicum placements, payable to Synergy Gateway through the Verified software platform.
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Financial aid

Paying for your education may feel overwhelming, but we have resources and programs that can help, including information about payment options, student loans, grants and scholarships.

Learn more
Canada Alberta Job Grant icon

This program is eligible for Canada Alberta Job Grant funding.

Application process

Ready to apply?

Follow our step-by-step guide to submitting a successful application.

Learn how to apply

Communication during admission

Email is the primary source of communication during the admission process. Ensure your personal email account is managed appropriately to receive our emails, files and communications. 

We recommend you add hps.info@sait.ca domain to your safe senders' list or you risk missing critical email messages. 

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Begin your application

Apply now using the online application portal. 

Ensure you have a valid Visa or Mastercard to pay the non-refundable application fee of $120 for domestic applicants or $150 for international applicants. 

Apply now

Information sessions

Prepare for a strong start in your chosen program or get the details you need to decide your future path.

Our expert staff and faculty are ready to answer your questions and provide information about the following:

  • What sets SAIT apart
  • An introduction to the program and area of study
  • Admission requirements
  • Future career paths
  • Information on the earning potential and graduate employment rates.

Contact us

School of Health and Public Safety Advising

Phone
403.284.8500
Email
hps.info@sait.ca