Dental Assistants

ANZSCO ID 4232

Overview

Snapshot

Employed
28,600
Future Growth
6.5%
Weekly Earnings
$1,102
Full-Time Share
46%
Female Share
98%
Average age
31

Summary

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.

Tasks

  • 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

Characteristics

Job Type
Community And Personal Service Workers
Skill Level
Lower skill
ANZSCO Occupation group
Unemployment Rate
Average
Industries
Pathway(s)
  • Vocational Education and Training (VET)
  • Informal or on-the-job
Interests
  • Practical
  • Administrative
  • Helping
Physical Demand
  • Sedentary
  • Light

Outlook

Employment Outlook

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.

Projected Change
6.5%
(or 2,300 jobs)
From
35,800
in 2021
To
38,100
in 2026

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Year Employment
2011 21,500
2012 21,000
2013 24,700
2014 20,600
2015 17,200
2016 26,900
2017 27,100
2018 26,700
2019 27,200
2020 20,400
2021 35,800
2026 38,100

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.


Earnings and hours

Working arrangements

  • 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)

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.
Earnings Dental Assistants All Jobs Average
Full-Time Earnings 1,102 1,593
Total Earnings 0 0

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.


Industries

Main industries

1
Health Care and Social Assistance
98.6%
2
Administrative and Support Services
1.0%
3
Public Administration and Safety
0.3%

Regions

Employment across Australia

NSW

30.7% All occupations: 31.6%

VIC

24.4% All occupations: 25.6%

QLD

22.5% All occupations: 20.0%

SA

7.7% All occupations: 7.0%

WA

10.1% All occupations: 10.8%

TAS

2.2% All occupations: 2.0%

NT

0.6% All occupations: 1.0%

ACT

1.6% All occupations: 1.9%

Employment by State and Territory (% Share)

State Dental Assistants All Jobs Average
NSW 30.7 31.6
VIC 24.4 25.6
QLD 22.5 20.0
SA 7.7 7.0
WA 10.1 10.8
TAS 2.2 2.0
NT 0.6 1.0
ACT 1.6 1.9



Worker profile

Age and gender

Age In Years
31
All Jobs Average is 40
Female Share
98%
All Jobs Average is 48%
  • 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)

Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age Bracket Dental Assistants All Jobs Average
15-19 6.2 5.0
20-24 20.5 9.3
25-34 32.3 22.9
35-44 18.3 22.0
45-54 14.6 21.6
55-59 4.9 9.0
60-64 2.3 6.0
65 and Over 0.8 4.2
Median Age 31 40

Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.


Employment Pathways

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.

Visit

  • 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)

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.
Type of Qualification Dental Assistants All Jobs Average
Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate 2.2 10.1
Bachelor degree 11.1 21.8
Advanced Diploma/Diploma 12.5 11.6
Certificate III/IV 42.9 21.1
Year 12 20.9 18.1
Year 11 3.6 4.8
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

Skills can be improved through training or experience.

  • 46%

    Active listening

    Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.

  • 46%

    Reading comprehension

    Reading work related information.

  • 46%

    Critical thinking

    Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.

  • 45%

    Speaking

    Talking to others.

  • 43%

    Active learning

    Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.

  • 43%

    Instructing

    Teaching people how to do something.

  • 43%

    Monitoring

    Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.

  • 43%

    Serving others

    Looking for ways to help people.

  • 43%

    Social perceptiveness

    Understanding why people react the way they do.

  • 43%

    Writing

    Writing things for co-workers or customers.

  • 41%

    Complex problem solving

    Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.

  • 41%

    Persuasion

    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.

  • 39%

    Negotiation

    Bringing people together and trying to sort out their differences.

  • 39%

    Learning strategies

    Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.

  • 39%

    Operation monitoring

    Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

  • 37%

    Time management

    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.


Knowledge

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.

  • 59%

    English language

    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.

  • 47%

    Psychology

    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.

  • 37%

    Chemistry

    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.

  • 36%

    Clerical

    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.

  • 32%

    Mechanical

    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.

  • 30%

    Mathematics

    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.

  • 23%

    Biology

    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.


Abilities

Workers use these physical and mental abilities..

  • 57%

    Oral comprehension

    Listen to and understand what people say.

  • 54%

    Oral expression

    Communicate by speaking.

  • 48%

    Near vision

    See details that are up-close (within a few feet).

  • 48%

    Arm-hand steadiness

    Keep your hand or arm steady.

  • 46%

    Speech recognition

    Identify and understand the speech of another person.

  • 46%

    Written comprehension

    Read and understand written information.

  • 46%

    Problem spotting

    Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.

  • 45%

    Deductive reasoning

    Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.

  • 45%

    Inductive reasoning

    Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.

  • 45%

    Speech clarity

    Speak clearly so others can understand you.

  • 45%

    Written expression

    Write in a way that people can understand.

  • 45%

    Finger dexterity

    Put together small parts with your fingers.

  • 43%

    Categorising

    Come up with different ways of grouping things.

  • 43%

    Control precision

    Quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.

  • 43%

    Manual dexterity

    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).

  • 41%

    Far vision

    See details that are far away.

  • 39%

    Brainstorming

    Come up with a number of ideas about a topic, even if the ideas aren't very good.

  • 39%

    Multilimb coordination

    Use your arms and/or legs at the same time while sitting, standing, or lying down.

  • 39%

    Selective attention

    Pay attention to something without being distracted.


Activities

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

Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.

  • 86%

    Administrative

    Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.

  • 81%

    Practical

    Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

  • 67%

    Helping

    Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.

  • 48%

    Analytical

    Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.

  • 38%

    Enterprising

    Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.

  • 19%

    Creative

    Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.


Values

Work values are important to a person’s feeling of satisfaction. All six values are shown below.
  • 86%

    Relationships

    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.

  • 81%

    Support

    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.

  • 60%

    Working conditions

    Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.

  • 52%

    Independence

    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.

  • 48%

    Achievement

    Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

  • 43%

    Recognition

    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.


Demands

The physical and social demands that workers face most often are shown below:
  • 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.

  • 95%

    Teamwork

    Work with people in a group or team.

  • 94%

    Indoors, heat controlled

    Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.

  • 93%

    Face-to-face discussions

    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.

  • 88%

    Radiation

    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.

  • 78%

    Telephone

    Talk on the telephone.

  • 77%

    Bending or twisting your body

    Spend time bending or twisting your body.

  • 76%

    Unstructured work

    Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.

  • 74%

    Impact of decisions

    Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.

Occupational Information Network
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.


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