Working as a dental assistant in Australia

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Do you have experience working as a dentist or dental assistant? Are you seeking to apply this expertise in Australia? You’ve come to the right place!

Australians take dental care seriously. That’s why the dental services market is worth a whopping $8.4 billion. Hence, as a dental expert moving to Australia, you can explore the exquisite scenery. But more interestingly, there are several part-time and casual opportunities as a dental assistant that’ll always put cash in your pocket! And the best part? The requirements for certain professions – like dental assistants – are minimal.

This post will explore all you need to know working as a dentist or dental assistant in Australia.

What qualifications do you need?

Dental assistants (or dental nurses) prepare and organize tools dentists require to work on a patient. They also assist with dental procedures like crowns, fillings, and extractions. Dental assistants also perform administrative tasks like scheduling appointments, reception duties, invoicing, and processing payments.

There are no formal qualifications or certifications to become a dental assistant in Australia. Most dental assistants learn on the job. However, for some procedures involving radiography, you must have completed a Certificate IV in Dental Assisting and hold a license to expose radiographs. Thankfully, overseas dental assistants can take these courses.

Getting your visa

Before moving to Australia for work, you must have a valid visa for paid employment.

Unfortunately, dental assisting is not on the skilled migration list. Hence, you cannot apply for a skilled migration visa as a dental assistant. On the flip side, dentists are eligible for the 482 temporary skilled shortage visa that allows them to stay up to 4 years in Australia.

Getting sponsorship as a dental assistant in Australia is challenging. A few examples of dental assistants from the UK and the Philippines have pulled it off, but they tend to work in a dental family business.

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What training does an Australian dental assistant undertake?

As noted earlier, dental assisting is not a registered profession in Australia. However, several dental assistants have a national basic course – Certificate in Dental Assisting. They do this merely for professional development. Completing this course allows you to be paid as a qualified assistant.

ASQA is the accrediting body for the certificate, so many are sure that you take your training with a duly accredited organization.

Once done with Certificate III, you may consider Certificate IV, which covers different specialties like oral hygiene promotion, radiography, and dental practice management. Note that Certificate III is a prerequisite for enrolling on the Certificate IV course.

Are overseas qualifications recognized?

As established, dental assisting is not a registered profession in Australia. This means there is no official recognition. However, if you can demonstrate your expertise through a certificate or transcript, it will help with your job application process. Hence, come along with any relevant certificates.

Suppose you want your overseas certificates formally recognized or mapped against the corresponding Australian certificate in Dental Assisting. You can apply for “RPL” (recognition of prior learning) with registered training organizations like DAPA and Tafe. Note that this process is expensive. It would be best if you only considered this option after careful consideration.

Can dental assistants perform most dental acts?

Dental assistants in Australia are not permitted to perform restricted dental acts. Restricted dental act in Australia include:

1) Performing an irreversible procedure on the jaw or tooth

2) Correcting malposition of the jaw or teeth

3) Carrying out restorative dental practices.

4) Performing irreversible procedures on the jaw or teeth.

Do you need a background check?

Working in the health sector in Australia requires a background check. This is because you’ll work with adults and vulnerable groups like children and the elderly. A background check allows the employer to ensure that you will provide the safety of other employees and their patients.

Police checks are a crucial part of the background check process, revealing unspent criminal offenses to the employer. The employer can then use this information to assess the risks associated with hiring you and make an informed hiring decision.

One way to get ahead is to carry out individual police checks. Background-checking organizations like Australian National Character Check (ANCC) allow you to conduct a background check on yourself. That way, you can identify potential red flags and respond effectively when applying to any dental-related job.

Finding work as a Dental Assistant

Most employers advertise vacancies through the Dental Assistants Professional Association (DAPA) website. You can also find vacancies on popular job boards like Seek and Career one.

If you’re looking for a temporary job, registering with an agency can remove all the hassles of the job application process. Temp agencies have connections with dental practices and can link you to positions in which you’re most qualified.

When choosing an employer, you can either work with a private dental practice or a public health dental clinic.

Private practitioners take considerable time to train their staff and bring them up to speed. Hence, they are usually keen on taking in long-term applicants. If you’re going to be in Australia for a short term, communicate that to the employer so they can make the best hiring decision. If you have some experience, finding work in private practice should be straightforward.

Public health dental clinics are usually more stringent in their hiring practice. For one, you will require a qualification to work. Moreover, you will need to be immunized.

Attending professional development courses, dental assistant conferences, and networking events are also great ways to connect with potential employers.

How much can I make?

As you would expect, the pay rate for dental assistants depends on several factors, like the employer, location, experience level and lots more. A dental assistant with a Certificate III in Dental Assistant is considered a level 4 employee and will receive at least the corresponding minimum wage.

In general, private practices in the city pay about $25 per hour. What’s more, more prominent cities like Sydney pay more compared to, say, Perth.


Author Since:  September 18, 2018


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