Dental assistants are in high demand in Canada. The shortage of these specialists is becoming a serious issue for the country. Experts worry that if new dental assistants don’t start coming to the market at a faster rate, the dental care situation in Canada can worsen.
The high demand for these professionals regulates the dental assistant salary in Canada. The average hourly salary is $24.02. Meanwhile, the average annual pay is $46,830. Entry-level dental assistants can earn around $40,000.
Becoming a dental assistant in Canada is an excellent way to ensure a high salary, career opportunities, and fast employment. Experts believe that the shortage is likely to continue, fueling the demand and making this profession highly appealing.
Understanding the Dental Assistant Profession in Canada
To become a dental assistant in Canada, you need to acquire relevant knowledge and skills by taking dental assistant courses. These courses can vary from one college to another but usually include the basic set of subjects, such as:
- Dental anatomy
- Infection control
- Dental materials
- Dental radiography
- Dental procedures
- Clinical skills
You may also find courses that teach communication skills and patient management. The duration of education depends on the institution and the type of program you choose. You can usually get a certificate in 6 to 12 months. However, diploma programs can take up to two years while degree programs take up to four years.
After completing dental assistant courses, you can take a certification exam. During the exam, you will demonstrate your knowledge in dental radiography, dental dam application, oral hygiene, taking preliminary impressions as well as application of topical anesthetics, desensitizing agents, treatment liners, bonding materials, and more.
The exam is arranged by the National Dental Assisting Examination Board (NDAEB(. After passing the exam, you are licensed to work as a dental assistant in certain provinces. You would need to check your province’s licensing requirements to ensure you have all the right certifications to begin working at a local clinic.
When you get a job as a dental assistant, your responsibilities are likely to include:
- Maintain and update patients’ dental records in the clinic
- Assist dentists with complex dental procedures
- Perform routine procedures, such as dental cleanings
- Take x-rays and share them with the dentist
- Schedule appointments and send reminders
- Educate patients about regular oral hygiene
- Take billing and insurance information from patients
Skills and qualifications that dental offices usually expect assistance to have are:
- Excellent communication and customer service skills aimed at making the patient feel comfortable when receiving dental treatment.
- Ability to work with software in the dental office
- Knowledge of dental instruments
- Attention to small details to ensure seamless assistance during dental procedures.
- Experience with dental X-rays
The demand for skills and responsibilities can vary from clinic to clinic. After gaining sufficient experience as a dental assistant, you may decide to become a dentist. This would require additional education and certification. Experience as a dental assistant can be highly valuable for those who are considering a career as a professional dentist in the future.
Average Salary of a Dental Assistant Across Canada
The salary of a dental assistant can vary from city to city and from province to province. As the demand grows, the salary can change. It also depends on many other factors, including your experience and the clinic you choose to work in.
- Dental assistant salary in BC – $32.6 per hour
- Dental assistant salary in Toronto – $24.48 per hour
- Dental assistant salary in Alberta – $29.84 per hour
- Dental assistant salary in Ontario – $24.57 per hour
- Dental assistant salary in Calgary – $27.25 per hour
- Dental assistant salary in Winnipeg – $24.00 per hour
- Dental assistant salary in Montreal – $21.28 per hour
- Dental assistant salary in Manitoba – $23.80 per hour
- Dental assistant salary in Vancouver – $30.32 per hour
- Dental assistant salary Nova Scotia – $25.53 per hour
- Dental assistant salary in Ottawa – $26.36 per hour
- Dental assistant salary in Mississauga – $24.06 per hour
- Dental assistant salary in Saskatchewan – $27.12 per hour
The highest dental assistant salaries are in British Columbia. The lowest are in Montreal. The salaries of dental assistants usually correspond to the cost of living in the province or city that the dental offices are in.
Factors Influencing a Dental Assistant’s Salary in Canada
If you are searching for a job as a dental assistant, you may need to explore several factors that may affect your salary. They include:
Location is one of the key factors that influence your salary as a dental assistant. As you can see from the above averages, the difference between hourly salaries can be as big as 30%.
When comparing locations and related salaries, make sure you check the cost of living in the province with high salary options. Most likely the cost of living is also much higher than in other locations.
Typically, a dental assistant who works in a big city earns more than an assistant who works in a smaller town.
Experience plays a major role in the dental assistant salary. As a beginner, you can make as little as $19 per hour. As you gain knowledge and experience, the salary can increase to $25 or $30 per hour. It may take as long as 10 years of work as an assistant to achieve the highest possible salary in this position.
When you are just starting, it’s imperative to focus on gaining experience not pursuing the highest salary. The more experience you gain, the more opportunities you can take advantage of.
Specialization of the practice
The type of practice you choose can also define your dental assistant salary. For example, if the practice specializes in complex dentistry, the salary can be higher than in practices that provide general dental services.
Skills required for work in specialized dental offices are usually more diverse. If you are just starting, you may not have an opportunity to work in such a clinic. As you gain experience with general dental procedures, you could find a job in a higher-paying dental office.
How Dental Assistants Can Increase Their Earnings
If you’d like to increase your salary, you can do it in several ways, including:
- Change the location – you can move to a province or a city that has higher dental assistant salaries. However, you have to remember that the cost of living can increase as well. You may be able to commute from an urban area to the city to reduce living costs while enjoying a higher salary.
- Continue your education – if you decide to continue your education and earn additional diplomas and certificates, employers may be willing to pay more money for your new skills. Many schools offer remote learning opportunities to support students who are already working.
- Focus on specialties – general dental practices are common and easy to find a job in. However, dental offices that specialize in complex procedures are likely to pay more money. You may need to work in general dentistry for a while to earn experience. Then you can switch to a specialty that interests you the most.
- More responsibilities – if you want to increase the pay, you may ask for more responsibilities. Dental offices have a lot of administrative work they need to handle daily. If, besides assisting with procedures, you take on such work as managing patient records or ordering supplies, your pay may increase.
The best way to increase your salary is to demonstrate how valuable you are to the practice. The harder you work and the more you learn, the easier it will be to ask for a raise when the time is right.
Comparing Dental Assistant Salaries to Other Dental Professions
While the demand for dental assistants is one of the highest in the industry, other dental professionals usually have higher salaries. For example, dental hygienists make around $80,000. That’s around $40 per hour.
Dentists, dental surgeons, orthodontists, and other dental professionals pay up to $150 per hour. Many dental assistants who achieve excellent results in dentistry and gain significant experience choose a higher-paying profession in the dental care industry.
Final Thoughts: How Much Does a Dental Assistant Make in Canada?
The salary of a dental assistant can vary from $21 to $32 per hour. The figure depends on several important factors, including location, experience, specialty, and certification. As dental assistant gains experience, they can count on a higher salary and have an opportunity to move to specialty dentistry or explore other dental industry professions.