cancel
search
Search by IRC, Industry, sector, training package, IRC skills forecast or occupation.

Dental

Overview

This page provides information and data on various sub-sectors within the Dental industry.

The Dental industry provides oral health care services to the Australian population through both the public and private sectors, with businesses ranging in size from small to large.

The Dental Industry Reference Committee (IRC) is responsible for ensuring nationally recognised dental qualifications, packaged within the HLT Health Training Package, which directly relate to the following dental occupations:

  • Dental Laboratory Assistants
  • Dental Prosthetists
  • Dental Technicians
  • Dental Assistants.

Information sourced from the Dental IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast (forthcoming).

For information on other health-related training and employment, visit the Health industry page and the various sub-sectors.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The employment level for Dental Hygienists, Technicians and Therapists and Dental Assistants grew between 2000 and 2018, although this growth has not been consistent. Dental assistants have seen a significant growth, from 10,500 in 2017 to 25,800 in 2018. Employment in these occupations is projected to grow to 2023.

According to 2016 Census data, approximately 60% of Dental Hygienists, Technicians and Therapists are employed in the Dental Services industry, 28% are employed in the Medical and Surgical Equipment Manufacturing industry, and 4.5% are employed in hospitals. Nearly 90% of Dental Assistants work in the Dental Services industry and 3.6% are employed in hospitals.

Training trends

Training snapshot

In 2017 there were 6,952 program enrolments in dental qualifications and 2,262 program completions. While enrolments have increased from 2016, completions have decreased. Around two thirds of enrolments in 2017 were at the certificate III level. About 89% of program enrolments were in dental assisting qualifications with the intended occupation of Dental Assistant.

A little under half (48%) of the training was delivered by private providers and 46% by TAFE institutes. For the Advanced Diploma of Dental Prosthetics, however, 43% was delivered through universities in 2017, with the rest being delivered by TAFE institutes.   

Fifty nine percent of funding for subjects was from government, with 32% being from domestic fee-for-service and 9% international fee-for-service.

Approximately 28% of students were located in New South Wales, 22% in Victoria and 20% in Queensland.

There were 729 apprentice and trainee commencements in 2017, with commencements remaining at a similar level since 2014. Completions, at 466 in 2017, have declined by over 100 since 2016 and are at their lowest level for the period 2010–17. The main destination occupation for apprentices and trainees in 2017 was Dental Assistant. Around 38% of apprenticeships and traineeships were reported in Victoria, with about 19% in New South Wales, and a further 17% in Queensland.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

There have been a number of publications focusing on the dental workforce in recent years. These include:

Review of Dental Workforce Supply to 2020

Oral Health 2020: A Strategic Framework for Dental Health in NSW

Trends in the Australian Dental Labour Force, 2000 to 2009: Dental Labour Force Collection, 2009

Health Workforce Data Factsheets – various dental professions

Oral Health and Dental Care in Australia 2015

This body of work provides a comprehensive picture of the Dental workforce in Australia and workforce projections into the future, however there is little discussion about the implications for training, particularly regarding Dental Hygienists, Assistants, and Technicians.     

Some of the challenges affecting the dental workforce and training requirements identified in the Dental IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast include:

  • new technological and technique developments that offer cost effective services
  • registration requirements and adherence to regulations such as infection control guidelines
  • the impact of government policy and programs such as eligibility to access private or public health care which will drive service and skills demand in the sector
  • advanced digital technologies requiring digital competency and online engagement skills
  • having the right skills and knowledge to provide efficient oral health care services to vulnerable groups as per Australia’s National Oral Health Plan 2015–24
  • growing competition from overseas providers in terms of cheaper overseas dental work and also dental material and product development work that is outsourced overseas by Australian providers
  • increased accountability for quality and safety procedures for all patients and staff has implications for staff awareness, knowledge and skills in quality and safety
  • shortage of workers in regional and remote communities
  • retention of dental assistants due to salary levels and limited opportunities for career progression.

Two skill gaps have also been identified in the training for Dental Assistants:

  • orthodontic dental assistance
  • assisting in implant and surgical dental procedures.

The top skills areas for Dental Assistants mentioned in the Skills Forecast and sourced from Job Outlook include:

  • active listening
  • reading comprehension
  • speaking
  • critical thinking
  • service orientation.

Consistent with this the top generic skill identified in the Skills Forecast and in the job advertisement data was communication. Job vacancy data reports the top occupations in demand are Dental Assistant and Dental Officer.

 

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSIC 4 digit Dental Services industry, employment projections to May 2023
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 4112 Dental Hygienists, Technicians and Therapists
    • 4232 Dental Assistants.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1st November 2018 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument>

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit occupations, 2000 to 2018, May quarter
    • 4112 Dental Hygienists, Technicians and Therapists
    • 4232 Dental Assistants.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 4 digit ANZSIC industries, and 4 digit level occupations (4112 Dental Hygienists, Technicians and Therapists and 4232 Dental Assistants) to identify the distribution of the occupation across industries.                                                      

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET students and courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • HLT Health Training Package
  • Advanced Diploma of Dental Prosthetics
    • HLT60407 - Advanced Diploma of Dental Prosthetics
    • HLT60412 - Advanced Diploma of Dental Prosthetics
    • HLT65015 - Advanced Diploma of Dental Prosthetics
  • Certificate III and IV in Dental Assisting
    • HLT31802 - Certificate III in Dental Assisting
    • HLT31807 - Certificate III in Dental Assisting
    • HLT31812 - Certificate III in Dental Assisting
    • HLT35015 - Certificate III in Dental Assisting
    • HLT43007 - Certificate IV in Dental Assisting
    • HLT43012 - Certificate IV in Dental Assisting
    • HLT45015 - Certificate IV in Dental Assisting
  • Certificate III in Dental Laboratory Assisting
    • HLT32707 -  Certificate III in Dental Laboratory Assisting
    • HLT32712 - Certificate III in Dental Laboratory Assisting
    • HLT35115 - Certificate III in Dental Laboratory Assisting
  • Diploma of Dental Technology
    • HLT50507 - Diploma of Dental Technology
    • HLT50512 - Diploma of Dental Technology
    • HLT55115 - Diploma of Dental Technology.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document. 

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

HLT Health Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2017 commencements
  • 2010 to 2017 completions 
  • 2017 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2017 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Dental IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018, <https://www.burning-glass.com>.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

ANZSCO occupations have been used as industry filters because they provide more relevant job vacancy data for this sector.

  • Generic skills/Occupations/Employers
    • 4112 Dental Hygienists, Technicians and Therapists
    • 4232 Dental Assistants.
Updated: 18 Dec 2018
To Top