About the job

Nature of work:

Community pharmacists and hospital pharmacists compound and dispense prescribed pharmaceuticals and provide consultative services to both clients and health care providers. They are employed in retail and hospital pharmacies, or they may be self-employed. Industrial pharmacists participate in the research, development, promotion and manufacture of pharmaceutical products. They are employed in pharmaceutical companies and government departments and agencies.

Job duties:
Community pharmacists and hospital pharmacists perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Check prescriptions for proper dosage.
  • Compound prescribed pharmaceutical products by calculating, measuring and mixing the quantities of drugs and other ingredients required and filling appropriate containers with correct quantity.
  • Dispense prescribed pharmaceuticals to customers or to other health care professionals and advise them on indications, contra-indications, adverse effects, drug interactions and dosage.
  • Maintain medication profiles of customers including registry of poisons and narcotic and controlled drugs.
  • Ensure proper preparation, packaging, distribution and storage of vaccines, serums, biologicals and other drugs and pharmaceuticals.
  • Order and maintain stock of pharmaceutical supplies.
  • Advise customers on selection and use of non-prescription medication.
  • May supervise and coordinate the activities of other pharmacists, pharmacy assistants, pharmacy technicians and other staff.
Industrial pharmacists perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Participate in research for the development of new drugs.
  • Formulate new drug products developed by medical researchers.
  • Test new drug products for stability and to determine absorption and elimination patterns.
  • Coordinate clinical investigations of new drugs.
  • Control the quality of drug products during production to ensure that they meet standards of potency, purity, uniformity, stability and safety.
  • Develop information materials concerning the uses, properties and risks of particular drugs.
  • Evaluate labelling, packaging and advertising of drug products.
  • Promote pharmaceutical products to health professionals.
Sample job titles:
  • clinical pharmacist
  • dispensary department supervisor - hospital
  • hospital pharmacist
  • pharmacist
  • pharmacist consultant
  • retail pharmacist

To work as a pharmacist, you should have an interest in helping people in a healthcare environment. You should have an interest in chemistry and an aptitude for detail, precision, and accuracy. Effective communication, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills are essential. You must be patient and able to deal with people in a mature, tactful, and empathetic way.

Job requirements:
  • A Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy is required.
  • Pharmacists also require practical training under the supervision of a pharmacist.
  • Licensure is required in Nova Scotia for community and hospital pharmacists.
Other considerations:


Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Fair

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “average”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is comparable to the average for all occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a fairly large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities occur fairly regularly. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow moderately over the next few years, which will likely provide some additional opportunities for employment. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Pharmacists most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common.

The median employment income for 65% of Pharmacists who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $93,446. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Pharmacists1,280Moderate growth105Low
Minimum: $17.80
Median: $44.50
Maximum: $52.00
Minimum: $12,012
Median: $85,230
Maximum: $112,489
Occupations in Health36,515Strong growth4,385Low
Minimum: $16.38
Median: $25.50
Maximum: $41.00
Minimum: $10,740
Median: $43,853
Maximum: $88,944
PharmacistsCompared to: Occupations in Health
Percent employed full-time81%77%
Percent self-employed13%10%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentPharmacistsCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton15%$105,15613%$32,974
Annapolis Valley7%$87,85613%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgePharmacistsCompared to: All Health
% Employed% Employed
Median Age4044
GenderPharmacistsCompared to: Occupations in Health
% Employed% Employed
EducationPharmacistsCompared to: All Health
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high schoolN/Ax1.1%$27,581
High school0.7%x6.9%$24,119
Trades certificateN/Ax5.0%$31,728
College certificate or diploma1.1%$31,35139.4%$36,693
University certificate or diploma0.7%x4.8%$50,769
Bachelor's degree81.2%$76,75727.6%$57,186
University advanced certificate or diploma9.1%$74,6062.3%$61,833
Master's degree1.1%$63,4735.1%$87,808
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometry2.5%x7.2%$83,000
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

Right to Title and Practice:This job is regulated and the job title is protected in Nova Scotia (you may not use this job title without holding a provincial licence). A licence shows that the holder has met provincial requirements and is required to work in this job.
Regulating body:
Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists
1559 Brunswick Street, Suite 200
Halifax, NS B3J 2G1
(902) 422-8528
(902) 422-0885 
Useful contacts:
Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists, Nova Scotia Branch
Halifax, NS
Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia
170 Cromarty Drive, Suite 225
Dartmouth, NS B3B 0G1
Tel: (902) 422-9583
Fax: (902) 422-2619
Health Care Human Resource Sector Council
380 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2L4
Tel: (902) 461-0871
Fax: (902) 461-9572
Canadian Pharmacists Association
1785 Alta Vista Drive
Ottawa, ON K1G 3Y6
Tel: (800) 917-9489
Fax: (613) 523-0445

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry (MSc, PhD)
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the university graduate level (Masters, PhD)
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the application of chemistry to the study of biologically and clinically active substances, biological and pharmacological interactions, and the development of associated research methods, techniques, and clinical trial procedures. These programs include courses in organic chemistry, biochemistry, molecular graphics, rational drug design, toxicology, molecular biology, pharmacology, enzyme mechanisms, receptor theory, neurochemistry, drug metabolism, drug synthesis, biological mechanisms of drug action, research tools and techniques, and laboratory safety.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
Program Name:Pharmacy (PharmD [USA], PharmD or BSc/BPharm [Canada])
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals for the independent or employed practice of preparing and dispensing drugs and medications in consultation with prescribing physicians and other health care professionals, and for managing pharmacy practices and counselling patients. These programs include courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacognosy, pharmacy practice, pharmacy administration, applicable regulations, and professional standards and ethics.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
Additional resources: