Dental Assistants prepare patients for dental examination and assist Dental Practitioners, Hygienists and Therapists in providing care and treatment.

A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job. Around two in five workers have a Certificate III or higher Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification. Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification.

Tasks

  • receiving and preparing patients
  • arranging and handing instruments, medication, and other dental requisites to Dental Practitioners
  • preparing dental materials and processing X-rays
  • using suction devices and water sprays
  • performing routine maintenance on equipment
  • sterilising and preventing cross infection of equipment
  • may advise patients on dental health education and post-operative care and procedures
  • may act as receptionist for Dental Practitioners
  • may perform billing and other clerical tasks

Job Titles

  • Dental Assistant, Dental Chairside Assistant, or Dental Nurse

    Fast Facts

    • $893 Weekly Pay
    • 21,900 workers Employment Size
    • Stable Future Growth
    • Lower skill Skill level rating
    • Average unemployment Unemployment
    • 55.1% Full-Time Full-Time Share
    • 37.7 hours Average full-time
    • 29 years Average age
    • 98.4% female Gender Share

    The number of Dental Assistants grew very strongly over the past 5 years and is expected to stay fairly stable over the next 5 years:
    from 21,900 in 2017 to 21,900 by 2022.
    There are likely to be around 11,000 job openings over this time from workers leaving and new jobs being created.

    • Size: This is a medium sized occupation.
    • Unemployment: Unemployment was average in 2017.
    • Location: Dental Assistants work in many regions of Australia. Many work in Queensland.
    • Industries: Most work in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry.
    • Earnings: Full-time workers earn around $893 per week (lower than the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
    • Full-time: More than half work full-time (55.1%, similar to the all jobs average of 68.4%), but there are many opportunites to work part-time.
    • Hours: Full-time workers spend around 37.7 hours per week at work (compared to the all jobs average of 40.0 hours).
    • Age: The average age is 29 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years). Many workers are under 25 years of age (26.2%).
    • Gender: 98.4% of workers are female (compared to the all jobs average of 46.7%).

    Employment Outlook

    Number of Workers

    Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Jobs and Small Business trend data to May 2017 and Department of Jobs and Small Business projections to 2022.
    YearNumber of Workers
    200717600
    200818300
    200914800
    201020900
    201121400
    201218100
    201324300
    201417300
    201522500
    201623000
    201721900
    202221900

    Weekly Earnings

    Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)

    Source: Based on ABS Characteristics of Employment survey, August 2015, Cat. No. 6333.0, Customised Report. Median earnings are before tax and do not include superannuation. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
    EarningsDental AssistantsAll Jobs Average
    Full-Time Earnings8931230

    Main Industries

    Main Employing Industries (% Share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
    Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
    Health Care and Social Assistance98.8
    Education and Training0.5
    Professional, Scientific and Technical Services0.4
    Financial and Insurance Services0.3

    States and Territories

    • NSW

    • VIC

    • QLD

    • SA

    • TAS

    • NT

    • ACT

    Employment by State and Territory (% Share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
    StateDental AssistantsAll Jobs Average
    NSW27.331.6
    VIC17.326.2
    QLD32.519.7
    SA6.36.7
    WA12.210.8
    TAS1.92.0
    NT1.01.1
    ACT1.41.8

    Age Profile

    Age Profile (% Share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
    Age BracketDental AssistantsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
    15-196.3-5.25.2
    20-2419.9-9.99.9
    25-3438.9-23.623.6
    35-4413.1-21.721.7
    45-5414.0-20.820.8
    55-594.9-8.88.8
    60-640.0-6.06.0
    65 and Over2.8-4.04.0

    Education Level

    Highest Level of Education (% Share)

    Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
    Type of QualificationDental AssistantsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate0-8.68.6
    Bachelor degree10.3-17.917.9
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma10.3-10.110.1
    Certificate III/IV29.9-18.918.9
    Year 1245.5-18.718.7
    Years 11 & 104-17.717.7
    Below Year 100-8.18.1

    A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job.
    Around two in five workers have a Certificate III or higher Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification. Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification.

    Before starting a course, check it will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need.

    • Compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes on the QILT website.
    • Compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes on the My Skills website.
    • You might be interested in Health Industry VET training pathways on the AAPathways website.

    The course listings on this page are provided by Good Education Group.

    Employers look for Dental Assistants who are hardworking and communicate well with others.

    Knowledge

    These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.

    1. Medicine and Dentistry

      89% Important

      Diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.

    2. English Language

      85% Important

      English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

    3. Customer and Personal Service

      81% Important

      Customer and personal services. This includes understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.

    4. Education and Training

      67% Important

      Teaching and course design.

    5. Psychology

      62% Important

      Human behaviour and performance; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioural and affective disorders.

    Occupational Information Network
    O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
    The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 31-9091.00 - Dental Assistants.

    Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.

    Activities

    These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.

    1. Assisting and Caring for Others

      95% Important

      Providing personal assistance, medical attention, or emotional support to people such as co-workers, customers, or patients.

    2. Checking Compliance with Standards

      91% Important

      Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.

    3. Getting Information

      91% Important

      Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.

    4. Building Good Relationships

      85% Important

      Building and keeping constructive and cooperative working relationships with others.

    5. Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge

      84% Important

      Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.

    Occupational Information Network
    O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
    The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 31-9091.00 - Dental Assistants.

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