How to become a dental assistant

24th February 2020

There is a growing demand for dental assistants all over Australia right now. We’ll explain how you can become qualified as a dental assistant over the next 12 months and take advantage of the 12,000 job roles expected to open up between 2020 and 2023.

CAREER FACTS: The average salary for dental assistants in Australia is approximately $1,116 per week and the number of available jobs is expected to grow strongly over the next 4 years.


Daily tasks

Dental assistants receive patients into the surgery, then help them relax and prepare for treatment by a qualified dentist. During treatments you’ll be using water sprays and suction devices as well as handing specific instruments to the dentist. Afterwards, you’ll be cleaning and sterilising the dental equipment to prevent cross contamination.

As a dental assistant you’ll be giving advice to patients about teeth cleaning, flossing and ongoing oral health, and how to take care of their teeth before and after dental surgery. If you have specialist qualifications you may also be taking dental x-rays and other radiographic images.


Qualifications for Dental Assistants

The following qualifications provide a direct pathway to employment as a dental assistant. They can be completed online in just a year, but require a work placement of 300 hours under a qualified dentist.

Certificate III in Dental Assisting (HLT35015)
This Certificate III is the entry level qualification for Dental Assistants and delivers basic skills in infection control, equipment cleaning and sterilisation, oral health care procedures, and dental radiography.

Certificate IV in Dental Assisting (Oral Health Promotion Specialisation) (HLT45015)
This Certificate IV delivers the basic skills you need to work in a dental practice but focuses heavily on oral hygiene. You’ll graduate knowing how to implement an oral health plan and help patients (young and old) develop good oral health through healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

Certificate IV in Dental Assisting (Radiography Specialisation) (HLT45015)
With this Certificate IV you can specialise in dental radiography. It’s a practical qualification that teaches you how to operate dental radiographic equipment and safely produce dental x-rays and radiographic images.

IMPORTANT: To graduate from your nationally recognised qualification in Dental Assisting you need to complete a current First Aid and CPR certificate with a specialist training provider.

If you have your heart set on a long term career in dental health it’s also possible to complete dual certifications, we suggest:


Career booster tips

Many dental assistants working in small clinics also take care of patient bookings, processing insurance information, and other administrative tasks. To boost your employability you might consider a supporting qualification in business administration — examples include:


Other career requirements

Because Dental Assistants are often working in close contact with children you may need a Police Clearance and Working With Children check before you will be considered for employment.

Written by Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda is a professional writer, blogger and musician. When she’s not writing she’s creating online resources that help disadvantaged kids develop English literacy and life skills.

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