Sink teeth into lucrative career
JOB OPPORTUNITY: More dentists, dental assistants needed
AS AUSTRALIA’S population grows and ages, employment in the dental sector is increasing.
Everybody needs dental care but intensive procedures become more common with age.
The Employment Department forecasts about 900 extra dental practitioners and 900 extra dental assistants will be needed between 2015 and 2020, providing opportunities for university and vocational graduates alike.
Those wishing to go down the university path typically study a Bachelor of Dental Science, which takes five years with a full-time subject load, but about a third follow that up with a postgraduate qualification.
A Doctor of Clinical Dentistry, for example, requires an extra three years of full-time study and allows a dentist to specialise in areas such as orthodontics (teeth straightening) or periodontics (gum disease and dental implants).
PayScale data reveals the average salary for an Australian dentist is about $96,000 but can reach upwards of $190,000.
On the other hand, those wishing to go down the vocational education and training path can become a qualified dental assistant in about nine months with a Certificate III in Dental Assisting.
This is the standard qualification for such a role, however longer diploma options are available for those wishing to specialise as dental technicians or therapists.
PayScale shows the average salary for a dental assistant is $40,000 but can reach beyond $56,000 with experience.
Dimiti Andresen, a finalist for the 2016 Australian Training Awards School-Based Apprentice of the Year Award, studied a Certificate III in Dental Assisting and Certificate III in Business and works full-time for the Northern Territory Government’s Oral Health Services branch.
She used her training to gain confidence in communicating effectively with health clinic staff and patients of different cultures and ages and hopes to one day work overseas in the health care sector.
“Being able to complete on-the-job training while in high school gave me an insight into the working world while still allowing me to enjoy my high school education,” she says.
SMILE: Dimiti Andresen completed her Australian School-Based Apprenticeship while attending Centralian Senior College in Alice Springs. She has a Certificate III in Dental Assisting and Certificate III in Business.