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

Also known as: Dental Chairside Assistant, or Dental Nurse.

You can work as a Dental Assistant without formal qualifications, however, they may be useful. Dental Assistants often complete a certificate III in dental assisting. Traineeships may be available.

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

All Dental Assistants

  • $1,116 Weekly Pay
  • Moderate Future Growth
  • Average unemployment Unemployment
  • 26,600 workers Employment Size
  • Lower skill Skill level rating
  • 46% Full-Time Full-Time Share
  • 40 hours Average full-time
  • 31 years Average age
  • 98% female Gender Share

The number of people working as Dental Assistants (in their main job) grew strongly over the past 5 years and is expected to grow over the next 5 years:
from 26,600 in 2018 to 28,400 by 2023.
Job openings can come from new jobs being created, but most come from turnover (workers leaving).
There are likely to be around 16,000 job openings over 5 years (that's about 3,200 a year).

  • Size: This is a large occupation.
  • Unemployment: Unemployment was average in 2018.
  • Location: Dental Assistants work in many regions of Australia.
  • Industries: Most work in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry.
  • Earnings: Full-time workers on an adult wage earn around $1,116 per week (below the average of $1,460). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
  • Full-time: Around half work full-time (46%, less than the average of 66%), showing there are many opportunities to work part-time.
  • Hours: Full-time workers spend around 40 hours per week at work (compared to the average of 44 hours).
  • Age: The average age is 31 years (compared to the average of 40 years). Many workers are under 25 years of age (27%).
  • Gender: 98% of workers are female (compared to the average of 48%).

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Jobs and Small Business trend data to May 2018 and Department of Jobs and Small Business projections to 2023.
YearNumber of Workers
200818200
200914800
201020800
201121300
201218000
201323700
201417200
201522300
201622600
201723200
201826600
202328400

Weekly Earnings

Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)

Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours (cat. no. 6306.0), May 2018, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. 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 Earnings11161460

Main Industries

Main Employing Industries (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
Health Care and Social Assistance96.9
Public Administration and Safety1.1
Education and Training0.7
Financial and Insurance Services0.6
Other Industries0.7

States and Territories

  • NSW

  • VIC

  • QLD

  • SA

  • TAS

  • NT

  • ACT

Employment by State and Territory (% Share)

Source: Based on Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
StateDental AssistantsAll Jobs Average
NSW30.731.6
VIC24.425.6
QLD22.520.0
SA7.77.0
WA10.110.8
TAS2.22.0
NT0.61.0
ACT1.61.9

Age Profile

Age Profile (% Share)

Source: Based on Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age BracketDental AssistantsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
15-196.2-5.05.0
20-2420.5-9.39.3
25-3432.3-22.922.9
35-4418.3-22.022.0
45-5414.6-21.621.6
55-594.9-9.09.0
60-642.3-6.06.0
65 and Over0.8-4.24.2

Education Level

Highest Level of Education (% Share)

Source: ABS, ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). 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 Certificate2.2-10.110.1
Bachelor degree11.1-21.821.8
Advanced Diploma/Diploma12.5-11.611.6
Certificate III/IV42.9-21.121.1
Year 1220.9-18.118.1
Year 113.6-4.84.8
Year 10 and below6.9-12.512.5

You can work as a Dental Assistant without formal qualifications, however, they may be useful. Dental Assistants often complete a certificate III in dental assisting. Traineeships may be available.

Checks, licences and tickets

You may need:

  • working with children check
  • first aid certificate

Thinking about study or training?

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

  • 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.

Or check out related courses on Job Outlook.

Useful links and resources


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.

Filter Skills & Knowledge

Knowledge

These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.

  1. Customer and Personal Service

    66% Skill level

    Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.

  2. Medicine and Dentistry

    61% Skill level

    Diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities, including preventive health-care measures.

  3. English Language

    59% Skill level

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

  4. Education and Training

    48% Skill level

    Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

  5. Psychology

    47% Skill level

    Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.

Occupational Information Network
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and 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.

Filter Work Environment

Demands

The physical and social demands workers face most often are shown below.

  1. Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment

    100% Important

    How often do you wear equipment like safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets?

  2. Physical Proximity

    99% Important

    How physically close are you to other people?

  3. Contact With Others

    98% Important

    How much do you have contact with people (face-to-face, by telephone, or any other way)?

  4. Exposed to Disease or Infections

    97% Important

    How often are you exposed to disease/infections?

  5. Work With Work Group or Team

    95% Important

    How important is it to work with others in a group or team?

Occupational Information Network
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and 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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