Dental Assistants prepare patients for dental examination and assist Dental Practitioners, Hygienists and Therapists in providing care and treatment.
Also known as: Dental Chairside Assistant, or Dental Nurse.
Formal qualifications are not essential to work as a Dental Assistant. Although some workers have a certificate III or IV in dental assisting.
receiving and preparing patients
arranging and handing instruments, medication, and other dental requisites to Dental Practitioners
preparing dental materials and processing X-rays
using suction devices and water sprays
performing routine maintenance on equipment
sterilising and preventing cross infection of equipment
may advise patients on dental health education and post-operative care and procedures
may act as receptionist for Dental Practitioners
may perform billing and other clerical tasks
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Informal or on-the-job
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers:
- is expected to grow moderately
- is likely to reach 38,100 by 2026.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 46% of people employed as Dental Assistants work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 20 percentage points below the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 40 hours per week in their main job. This is 4 hours less than the all jobs average (44 hours per week).
Median full-time earnings are $1,102 per week, this is much lower than the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $914
- 1 in 4 earn more than $1,162
Median hourly earnings are $29, this is lower than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Dental Assistants||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
Most Dental Assistants work in the Health care and social assistance industry.
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Dental Assistants||All Jobs Average|
Around 41% of Dental Assistants live outside of capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 38%.
The regions with the largest share of workers are:
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Dental Assistants is 31 years. This is younger than the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 25 to 34 years.
Females make up 98% of the workforce. This is 50 percentage points above the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Dental Assistants||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||0.8||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
Formal qualifications are not essential to work as a Dental Assistant. Although some workers have a certificate III or IV in dental assisting.
- My Skills to compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes.
- AAPathways website to explore Health Industry VET training pathways.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Dental Assistants||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||2.2||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||6.9||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Dental Assistants who are hardworking and communicate well with others.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
Reading work related information.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
Talking to others.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
Teaching people how to do something.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Looking for ways to help people.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
41%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Talking people into changing their minds or their behaviour.
39%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
39%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Bringing people together and trying to sort out their differences.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
32%Quality control analysis
Doing tests and checking products, services, or processes to make sure they are working properly.
30%Management of personnel resources
Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, and choosing the best people for the job.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
66%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
61%Medicine and dentistry
Diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities, including preventive health-care measures.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
48%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.
39%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change.
37%Sales and marketing
Showing, promoting, and selling including marketing strategy, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
36%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
33%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
32%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
31%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
30%Therapy and counselling
Diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and career counselling and guidance.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
29%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
24%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
Plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, how they rely on and work with each other and the environment.
22%Sociology and anthropology
Group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Listen to and understand what people say.
Communicate by speaking.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Keep your hand or arm steady.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
Read and understand written information.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
Write in a way that people can understand.
Put together small parts with your fingers.
Come up with different ways of grouping things.
Quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
Quickly move your hand to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
43%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
See details that are far away.
Come up with a number of ideas about a topic, even if the ideas aren't very good.
Use your arms and/or legs at the same time while sitting, standing, or lying down.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
74%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
72%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
70%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
70%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
68%Helping and caring for others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, or emotional support.
67%Handling and moving objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, moving and manipulating objects.
65%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
62%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
58%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
57%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
56%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
56%Documenting or recording information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
56%Working with the public
Greeting or serving customers, clients or guests, and public speaking or performing.
56%Assessing and evaluating things
Working out the value, importance, or quality of things, services or people.
54%Collecting and organising information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or checking information or data.
54%Working with computers
Using computers to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
53%Checking for errors or defects
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.
49%Explaining things to people
Helping people to understand and use information.
47%Estimating amounts, costs and resources
Working out sizes, distances, amounts, time, costs, resources, or materials needed for a task.
46%Making sense of information and ideas
Looking at, working with, and understanding data or information.
Interests and demands
Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
100%Wear common protective or safety equipment
Wear equipment like safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets.
99%Physically close to people
Work physically close to other people.
98%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
97%Disease or infection
Be exposed to disease or infections.
Work with people in a group or team.
94%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
Talk with people face-to-face.
90%Using your hands to handle, control, or feel
Spend time using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls.
Be exposed to radiation.
87%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
85%Making repetitive motions
Spend time making repetitive motions.
85%Contact with the public
Work with customers or the public.
82%Exposure to contaminants
Be exposed to pollutants, gases, dust or odours.
81%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
80%Health and safety of others
Take responsibility for the health and safety of others.
79%Lead or coordinate a team
Lead others to do work activities.
Talk on the telephone.
77%Bending or twisting your body
Spend time bending or twisting your body.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
74%Impact of decisions
Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 31-9091.00 - Dental Assistants.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.