Everything you need to know about becoming a dental assistant in Australia – Part 2

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Education and training requirements for dental assistants in Australia

To become a qualified dental assistant and begin working in this field, you would first need to obtain a Certificate III in Dental Assisting.

These are some of the organizations that offer dental assistant courses in New South Wales:

  1. TAFE NSW Open Training and Education Network
  2. The NSW Dental Assistants’ Association, Stanmore 
  3. TAFE NSW, Randwick College

A pre-dentistry student on her dentistry work experience placement in Tanzania You can also choose to complete a dental assisting training programme through the Australian Defence Force. The training is offered free of charge but there are certain conditions attached.  

In addition, several dental practices provide on-the-job training programs to get you started.

Students who have obtained supervised dental assisting experience in any professional setting as well as practicing dental assistants can apply for the Certificate III qualification. If you fall in to either of these categories, your prior learning or work experience will be taken into consideration and you will be given exemptions so that you do not repeat what you’ve already learnt before.

If you are keen on pursuing a career as a dental assistant, it is a good idea to explore your options for starting some of this dental assistant training while you are still at school. Your career advisor will be able to help you with this. Some states also offer school based traineeships in this field. This is approved across New South Wales.

 

Getting work experience in this field

One of the best ways to experience what it would be like to work in this field is through work experience.

Start by asking your local dentist for a shadowing opportunity. Another great way to obtain valuable work experience in dentistry is by spending some time at a dental placement in a developing country. Dental placements have helped many pre-dental students get a feel of the job before they actually start at dental school.  

 

Desirable traits for dental assistants

There are a few traits that are considered desirable in a dental assistant. You should:

  • Be interested in the delivery of oral healthcare
  • Be interested in learning new skills
  • Like working with your hands
  • Be of responsible and reliable character
  • Have good time management and organisational skills
  • Enjoy working with others in a team environment
  • Be able to follow instructions
  • Enjoy assisting others
  • Be an excellent communicator as you will be responsible for informing and educating patients across all demographics
  • Be sensitive to the needs of others
  • Be able to work efficiently and precisely in a fast-paced environment

 

Specialty options for dental assistants

Dental assistants can complete further education to advance their career within the dental workforce. With further study, qualified dental assistants can also advance through several other dental roles including that of a dental technician, dental prosthetist or dental hygienist.  

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