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How to Become a Dental Assistant - Career Salaries, Job Stats & Education

How to Become a Dental Assistant - Career Salaries, Job Stats & Education

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/ How to Become a Dental Assistant - Career Salaries, Job Stats & Education

Dental Assistant Career Profile & Dental Assistance Certification

Dental career certification is a crucial part of becoming a Dental Assistant in Australia. Becoming a certified worker in this profession is a great way to hone your skills in the dental health field, while working alongside patients and colleagues to get the best outcomes for your business. Here’s everything you need to know about your education, including prospected salary, age profile, certification requirements and more.

Dental Assistant Career Job Outlook

dental-assistant-jobotlook-chart                  

The graph shows historical and projected (to 2020) employment levels (thousands) for this occupation. Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Employment trend data to November 2015 and Department of Employment projections to 2020.

It’s great news for this profession. According to the Department of Employment, up until 2019 the number of job openings for Dental Assistants will be between 10,001 and 25,000.

Job openings occur due to employment growth and job turnover, for example workers leaving this occupation.

This is a popular career choice. Employment for people in this profession remained relatively steady for the last 10 years. Looking forward, employment for Dental Assistants to November 2020 is expected to grow moderately. This is a medium sized occupation with 18,400 at the last census, suggesting that opportunities may be limited in some regions.

Dental Assistant Salary: Hourly, Weekly & More

 dental-assistant-salary-chart                

The chart above shows the median weekly earnings for workers in the dental industry when compared with the median across all occupations. These figures are indicative and cannot be used to determine a particular wage rate. Source: ABS Characteristics of Employment Survey cat. no. 6333.0.

A full-time Dental Assistant will earn $846 per week before tax while a part-time worker will earn an average of $705.

According to Payscale.com, a Mid-Career Assistant earns an average wage of AU$24.13 per hour which translates to between $41,818  and $58,473 per annum. Please note: For roles in Dental Assistance, rates of pay will vary depending on the type of business and the type of environment.

Dental Assistant Weekly Work Hours

 dental-assistant-work-hours-chart                           

The graph above shows the average weekly hours (by gender and full-time and part-time) worked for people in this profession, compared with all occupations. Source: ABS Labour Force Survey.

Men in this profession worked an average of 38.8 hours full-time, and 18 hours part-time. Women in this profession worked an average of 35 hours in full-time Dental Assisting roles, while part-time women worked for 17.9 hours per week on average.

There may also be casual and contractor roles within this profession meaning that a certified worker in this profession will have many career options for weekly hours worked.

Being a Dental Professional: Age Profile

 dental-assistance-age-profile-chart                            

This chart shows the share of employment by age group for this profession, compared with all occupations. Source: ABS Labour Force Survey.

The most popular age bracket for people in this profession is between 20 and 44 years old, with around 70% of workers. Just over 20% of workers are aged between 45 and 54 and 4.6% of workers are below the age of 20. The median age of this profession is 31.

Dental Assisting: Education Levels

 dental-assistance-education-levels-chart                     

The data in the chart above shows the highest educational attainment achieved by workers. Source: ABS Survey of Education and Work (SEW).

The most typical qualification for a Dental Assistant to hold is a Certificate III or a Certificate IV. Nearly 58% of workers in this profession hold a certificate qualification.

5.3% of people hold a bachelor degree while 25.4% hold a Year 12 qualification only.  

Trends and Facts in the Dental Assisting Industry

According to the Australian Department of Employment, Dental Assistants prepare patients for dental examination and assist Dental Practitioners, Hygienists and Therapists with providing care and treatment for patients. The most common type of educational attainment achieved by workers is a Certificate III. People in this profession are nearly all employed in Health Care and Social Assistance.

According to the Australian Dental Board the types of roles within this profession are Dental Hygienist, Dental Prosthetist, Dental Therapist, Oral Health Therapist and Dentist. The majority of workers work in New South Wales.

Australian dentistry is at the forefront of the world. According to the Australian Dental Association, a recent move has been made that might potentially reduce the need for surgery or antibiotics for people suffering from severe gum disease. Recently, scientists based at Melbourne University's Oral Health CRC have developed a vaccine that works to prevent and reduce periodontitis, a world first initiative.

Dental Assisting Certification: What Dental Qualification Do You Need?

Certificate III in Dental Assisting 

This nationally recognised qualification equips you with the knowledge and skills to efficiently support a dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist during healthcare procedures, maintain high standards of infection control and assist with practice administration. Your studies will include cleaning and sterilising as well as helpful administrative skills.

Certificate III in Health Services Assistance

This course could be your pathway to a career as a nursing assistant. Careers in the health sector are regarded as fulfilling, stable and interesting and the HLT33115 Certificate III in Health Services Assistance is a nationally recognised qualification and could enable you to find entry-level work as an assistant in nursing or nursing support worker.

Certificate III in Health Services Assistance (Assistant in nursing work in acute care)

The HLT33115 Certificate III in Health Services Assistance (Assistant in nursing work in acute care) is a nationally recognised qualification and could enable you to find entry-level work as an assistant in nursing or nursing support worker. It has been designed to provide you with an orientation to the health sector and to assist nursing teams in an acute care environment.

Why Study Dental through Open Colleges?

Your dental career and education starts here! Open Colleges health courses are a combination of online learning and a work placement, giving you the flexibility of organising your study around your life. You can enrol anytime of the year and study at your own pace. Your course includes comprehensive student support to help you throughout your study. Read a real student story: Dental dynamo has course to thank for exciting national career prospects.

Among other things, you'll learn how to efficiently support a dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist during healthcare procedures, maintain high standards of infection control and assist with practice administration. You’ll also learn how to manage quality customer service, ensure team effectiveness, manage people performance and recruit, select and induct staff. Here's a visual snapshot of the Health industry (infographic) which shows statistics about this career category: Your Career In Health [Infographic]

Read a real student story: Finding new direction after life throws you off the path: Liz’s story.

Liz Charlton

Dental Assitance Student @Open Colleges

Online course with work placement 

What inspired you to study Dental Assisting?

One of my best friends growing up, her dad was our dentist, so I was never scared of the dentist, I was just always kind of interested. I had braces when I was younger, and when I got sick I also suffered several oral health issues, so dentistry has always fascinated me.

How did you choose your qualification?

I thought the Certificate III would be a good stepping stone, it would give me a taste of it, and if I hated it I hadn’t wasted a large HECS debt. And it was online, and the thing was, I essentially had to spend three months in bed doing nothing (due to sickness), so with it online I could do the first three components in bed.

How did you motivate yourself to study Dental Assisting online?

I got a little reminder earlier this year that my course was due to expire, and after two years off I had returned to work in music admin, and I wasn’t enjoying it. I thought I’ll do the placement and who knows what will happen. I’ll just get it done and then I’ll have the certificate and I won’t have wasted my energy. I did one day a week with them and continued working my day job, but my brain was just loving dental assisting.

What was it like changing careers into Dental Assisting?

Usually, in my other job, I’d get to 11 o’clock, I’d eaten my lunch and I’d think ‘oh, there’s still so much more to do, but I’m ready to go home now’. I didn’t find that with dental assisting. I would come home excited. You know that you enjoy something when a day disappears.

What duties do you focus on?

I started off doing duties in the sterilisation room and when I had mastered that, I was tasked with observing how the assistants were helping the dentists. Then one day they said, ‘okay it’s your turn’. I knew all the procedures, I knew I had the information, it was just trusting myself that I had done it once, and ‘Oh I can do this’. I never felt in the deep end. The study periods had given me enough information to make a start.

Are You Ready to Launch Your Career?

There are so many reasons to make this the year you begin to study Dental Assisting. Open Colleges courses can be started on any day of the year and are delivered at your own pace, so many students continue with work and family commitments while studying for a new career. If you’ve always wanted to work as a Dental Assistant, fill in the form below for a free course guide and an Enrolment Consultant will be in touch.

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