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Dental Assistant

Dental assistants work with health care professionals and related agencies in any or all of the following capacities: chairside assistant, intra-oral assistant, administrative assistant, community health assistant, treatment co-ordinator, dental sales and insurance, sterilization assistant, dental education and research assistant.

  • Avg. Salary $50,168.00
  • Avg. Wage $27.13
  • Minimum Education 1 year post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 3,400
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Health Care Assistant, Medical Assistant

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

68%
68%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Dental Assistant is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Dental Assistants
NOC code: 3411
METHODICAL

Interest in copying information to record dental procedures performed, order dental and office supplies, prepare dental instruments and filling materials, and to invoice patients; and in taking preliminary impressions for diagnostic casts

SOCIAL

Interest in assisting dentists in patient care and treatment; and in educating patients concerning oral hygiene

OBJECTIVE

Interest in operating equipment to sterilize and maintain instruments and equipment; in taking and developing X-rays, polishing teeth and clinical crowns and applying fluoride and sealant, and to fabricating temporary crowns and restorations

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Dental assistants with appropriate education and registration may:

  • receive and prepare patients for treatment
  • sterilize, prepare and set out dental instruments and materials
  • process x-rays
  • assist dentists during dental procedures
  • record dental procedures performed
  • educate patients
  • polish clinical crowns and apply fluoride
  • apply dental dams, pit and fissure sealants, desensitizing agents, topical anaesthetic, acid etch materials and cavity bases and liners
  • take preliminary impressions for diagnostic casts
  • apply and remove matrices and wedges
  • remove sutures
  • place and fabricate temporary crowns and restorations
  • expose radiographs (x-rays)
  • perform dental probing
  • place and remove gingival retraction cords
  • perform specialized orthodontic procedures
  • perform limited scaling procedures.

As administrative assistants, dental assistants may:

  • answer telephone calls
  • co-ordinate appointment schedules
  • keep records of bank transactions, treatment plan procedures and payroll
  • use and maintain dental computer software
  • maintain an inventory of supplies
  • co-ordinate treatments for patients.

Dental assistants work as part of a dental health care team that may include dentists, dental hygienists, dental lab technicians and denturists.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Most dental assistants work in office environments. They often are required to work some evenings and weekends to accommodate the needs of the public.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Dental assistants need the following characteristics:

  • the ability to pay close attention to detail 
  • the ability to put patients at ease
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
  • steadiness, the ability to remain calm under pressure and in emergencies
  • critical thinking skills
  • good organizational and time management skills
  • the ability to co-operate and work as part of a team.

They should enjoy dealing with people, having clear guidelines, and operating and maintaining equipment.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

In Alberta, dental assistants may:

  • take a dental assistant training program and then look for related work
  • find employment and take distance education courses while they are working.

Graduates of programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada are able to register for practice upon successful completion of the National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) written exam. Graduates of non-accredited programs must successfully complete the NDAEB Clinical Practice Evaluation in addition to the NDAEB written exam.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Academy of Learning - Calgary NE

Academy of Learning - Calgary South

Academy of Learning - Edmonton Downtown

Academy of Learning - Edmonton South

Academy of Learning - Edmonton West

Academy of Learning - High River

Academy of Learning - Medicine Hat

Academy of Learning - Red Deer

Bow Valley College

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary North

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton City Centre

KDM Dental College International Inc. - Calgary

KDM Dental College International Inc. - Edmonton

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

Vancouver Community College

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Dental Assistant

Dental assistants provide supportive dental care services to maintain and promote oral health.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and Dental Assistants Profession Regulation, registration with the College of Alberta Dental Assistants (CADA) is mandatory if you meet identified competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public, teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Registered members, who are authorized by the College, provide restricted activities specified in the Regulation. Only registered members may call themselves dental assistants or registered dental assistants or use the initials DA or RDA. Other dental office staff who are not registered may perform basic chairside dental assisting tasks.

What You Need

Registration requires successful completion of: (1) an approved dental assistant program of studies or equivalent, and (2) an approved examination. Applicants who have been out of practice for a period of time also may have to demonstrate that they are currently competent to practice. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the CADA website or contact the CADA.

Working in Alberta

Dental assistants who are registered and in good standing with a dental assisting regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if dental assistants in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated dental assistants, see Dental Assistant Registration Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Contact Details

College of Alberta Dental Assistants
166, 14315 - 118 Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada  T5L 4S6
Phone number: 780-486-2526
Toll-free phone number: 1-800-355-8940
Fax number: 780-486-2728
Website: www.abrda.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Most dental assistants are employed in private practice dental offices. Some are employed by community health agencies, hospital clinics, dental insurance companies, dental and denture labs and dental supply companies.

Advancement opportunities for dental assistants are limited. With additional training, they may transfer into other dental occupations or become dental assistant educators.

In Alberta, 98% of people employed as dental assistants work in the Health Care and Social Assistance (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 4,800 Albertans are employed in the Dental assistants occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.9% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 187 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.   

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

Dental assistants
NOC code: 3411

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.25 $29.00 $23.29 $24.00
Overall $18.00 $34.00 $27.13 $27.50
Top $23.60 $38.00 $31.76 $32.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

68%
68%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

52%
52%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

16%
16%

2015 Vacancy Rate

4%
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
    • Human and Social Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

College of Alberta Dental Assistants (CADA) website: www.abrda.ca

Canadian Dental Assistants Association (CDAA) website: www.cdaa.ca

Edmonton Dental Assistants Association (EDAA) website: www.edaa.ab.ca

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website: www.hsaa.ca

National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) website: www.ndaeb.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 20, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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