Exploring a Dental Assistant Career in Australia

Considering a career as a Dental Assistant (DA) in Australia?

Wondering if it’s the right path for you?

Let’s unpack what a Dental Assistant does, the key responsibilities involved, and how to kickstart your journey in this rewarding and often overlooked profession.

As a Dental Assistant, sometimes referred to as a Dental Nurse, your main job is to help Dental Clinicians provide quality care to patients. Working as a crucial team member in a dental practice, Dental Assistants have various responsibilities. Whether you’re considering this career early on, thinking about a change, or returning to work, it’s vital to understand the role and skills needed.

Knowing the tasks involved in Dental Assisting is essential when deciding if it’s the right career for you. Dental Assistants play a key role in keeping a dental clinic running smoothly, handling various important duties. Let’s explore what Dental Assistants do in a typical practice and how you can enter this interesting and exciting career.

What Dental Assistants (DAs) Do:

As a DA, your primary task is to support Dental Clinicians providing services to people seeking dental care. DAs help prepare patients for examinations and assist Dentists, Specialists, Hygienists, and Oral Health Therapists with instruments, treatments, X-rays, and infection control procedures.

Typical Duties of a Dental Assistant.

While specific duties can vary between practices, common responsibilities include:

  • Working collaboratively in a team environment with other DAs and support staff
  • Welcoming and preparing patients for dental procedures.
  • Ensuring treatment rooms are well-prepared with necessary instruments.
  • Recording oral examination results using dental-specific software.
  • Providing necessary instruments and materials during appointments.
  • Offering empathetic support to patients throughout their visit.
  • Communicating pre- and post-operative procedures to patients.
  • Utilising suction units and triplex – air and water systems for patient comfort.
  • Cleaning and sterilising instruments following infection control processes.
  • Processing and filing digital radiographs (x-rays).
  • Managing dental supplies, organising, and restocking.
  • Booking appointments, scheduling reminders, and collecting payments
  • Undertaking general reception duties like phone calls and admin.

What are the personal qualities required to be a Dental Assistant?

To thrive as a Dental Assistant, employers seek individuals with:

  • A genuine interest in dentistry or health care
  • A caring and positive attitude, along with empathy and understanding
  • Strong interpersonal skills, enjoying interaction with diverse people.
  • Organizational and time management proficiency.
  • Ability to follow instructions and attention to detail.
  • Excellent communication skills with patients, team members, and professionals.
  • A curious mindset, a desire to learn, and a proactive approach.

What are the long-term work prospects for Dental Assistants?

Dental Assistants are currently in high demand worldwide, presenting abundant opportunities for securing positions in the field.

Dental Assisting offers diverse long-term career opportunities including roles such as:

  • Senior DA
  • Clinical coordinator
  • Patient/Treatment coordinator
  • Reception/Front office coordinator
  • Practice manager

If you think this may be the career for you, how do you become a Dental Assistant?

No formal qualifications are required to start your DA career. Two common pathways include:

  • Dental Assistant Traineeship: On-the-job training with a Certificate III in Dental Assisting, possibly through TAFE.
  • Vocational Training: Completing either a Certificate III or IV in Dental Assisting at an accredited TAFE institution.

Employment Opportunities?

While most DAs work in private general dental practices, various employment options exist, including:

  • Specialist practice – Orthodontics, Endodontics, Oral Surgery, Prosthodontics and Periodontics
  • Dental supply company sales representatives.
  • Statewide government clinics
  • School Dental clinics
  • Mobile clinics both private and govt.
  • Rural and special needs outreach services.

Dental Assisting as a pathway.

Gaining experience as a DA and completing Certificate III and IV in Dental Assisting can pave the way for further studies, leading to careers such as Dental Hygienist, Oral Health Therapist, or even becoming a Dentist.


To explore current Dental Assistant jobs in Australia, search for ‘Dental Assistant’ listings on our website or upload a resume tailored to showcase your enthusiasm for a Dental Assistant role. Many employers actively seek their next team member through our platform. Your journey in the dental industry starts here!

This involves preparing patients for examinations, assisting during treatments, managing instruments, aiding with X-rays, and ensuring infection control processes are followed diligently.