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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.

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) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Dental Assistants

2006 NOC: 3411

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

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

Traits & Skills
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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Dental assistants

2016 NOC: 3411

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 36 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Dec 01, 2021 and Nov 28, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Prepare patients for dental examinations
Sterilize and maintain instruments and equipment
Record dental procedures performed on patients
Prepare dental instruments and filling materials
Take and develop X-rays
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Perform intra-oral duties
Educate patients concerning oral hygiene
Personal Suitability: Accurate
Personal Suitability: Team player
Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016
  • Minimum Education 1 year post-secondary

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
Calgary College of Dental Health
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

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Dental Assistant.

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.

Note
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 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.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Dental assistants

2016 NOC: 3411
Average Wage
$29.84
Per Hour
Average Salary
$50,403.00
Per Year
Average Hours
32.3
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3411 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $16.22 $30.00 $24.15 $23.38
Overall $21.06 $34.00 $29.84 $30.94
Top $27.03 $38.96 $35.48 $36.92

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
75%
75%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
61%
61%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
11%
11%
Vacancy Rate
3%
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: secure.abrda.org

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

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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