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Dental Assistant

Dental assistants work with dental health professionals and related agencies as chair-side assistants, intra-oral assistants, administrative assistants, community dental health assistants, treatment co-ordinators, dental reception and insurance co-ordinators, sterilization assistants, or dental education and research assistants.

  • Avg. Salary $51,546.00
  • Avg. Wage $29.29
  • Minimum Education 1 year post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 4,500
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Registered Dental Assistant

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Dental Assistants (3411) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Dental Assistants (D311) 
  • 2011 NOC: Dental assistants (3411) 
  • 2016 NOC: Dental assistants (3411) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Dental Assistant is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Dental Assistants

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


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


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

Updated Dec 19, 2016

With the right education and when registered, dental assistants may:

  • receive and prepare patients for treatment
  • sterilize, prepare and set out dental instruments and materials
  • process x-rays
  • assist dentists when treating patients
  • record dental treatments performed
  • teach patients
  • polish clinical crowns and apply fluoride
  • apply dental dams, pit and fissure sealants, desensitizing agents, topical anaesthetic, acid etch materials, place bonding agents, and cavity bases and liners
  • take initial impressions for diagnostic casts
  • apply and remove matrices and wedges
  • remove stitches
  • place and make temporary crowns and restorations
  • expose x-rays
  • perform dental probing (if they have attained the probing module)
  • place and remove gingival retraction cords
  • perform specialized orthodontic procedures
  • perform limited scaling procedures (if they have attained the scaling module)

As administrative assistants, they may:

  • answer telephone calls
  • schedule appointments
  • keep records of bank transactions, treatment plans and payroll
  • use and maintain dental computer software
  • maintain an inventory of supplies
  • co-ordinate patient treatments
  • contact insurance companies to authorize treatment
  • perform some in-office dental lab procedures

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

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Most dental assistants work in offices. They often need to work some evenings and weekends.

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

Dental assistants need to possess:

  • the ability to pay close attention to detail
  • the ability to put patients at ease
  • good communication and people skills
  • the ability to remain calm under pressure
  • critical thinking skills
  • the ability to be organized and manage time well
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • knowledge of disease transmission and infection control

They should enjoy dealing with people and having clear guidelines. They should also enjoy 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 work and take courses while they are working

Graduates of programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada may register for practice when they pass the National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) written exam. Graduates of non-accredited programs must also pass the NDAEB Clinical Practice Evaluation.

Related Education

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

ABES (Alberta Business and Educational Services) - Calgary

Academy of Learning - Calgary Central

Academy of Learning - Calgary NE

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

Academy of Learning Airdrie

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

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

NorQuest College

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Peerless Training Institute

Reeves College - Calgary North

Reeves College - Edmonton

Reeves College - Lethbridge

Reeves College Edmonton South

Risio Institute for Digital Dental Education

Robertson College - Calgary

Robertson College - Edmonton

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.


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 learn about certification for internationally educated dental assistants, see Dental Assistant Registration Process.

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Most dental assistants work in private practices. Some work for community health agencies or hospital clinics. Others work for dental insurance companies, dental and denture labs, and dental supply companies.

Dental assistants have few opportunities to advance. With more training, they may move into other dental roles or teaching.

In Alberta, 98% of people employed as dental assistants work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

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

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

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

In Alberta, the 3411: Dental assistants occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.3% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 188 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the 188 new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

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.

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $20.00 $30.00 $24.68 $25.00
Overall $24.00 $35.72 $29.29 $29.35
Top $27.00 $39.00 $32.91 $33.00

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

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:

Canadian Dental Assistants Association (CDAA) website:

Edmonton Dental Assistants Association (EDAA) website:

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website:

National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 15, 2018. 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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