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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 relate to the following dental occupations:

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

Information sourced from the Dental IRC Industry Skills Forecast.

For information on other health-related training and employment, visit the Health industry page and the various 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 has grown between 2000 and 2016, although this growth has not been consistent. These occupations are projected to grow to 2022.

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 2016 there were 6,549 program enrolments in dental qualifications and 2,630 program completions. Around 70% of qualifications were at the certificate III level. Over 86% of program enrolments are in dental assisting qualifications. Nearly 50% of training is delivered by TAFE institutes and 43% is delivered by private providers.  

57% of training is government funded, with 31% domestic fee for service and 12% international fee for service.

Approximately 27% of students are located in New South Wales and 23% are located in Victoria.

There were 733 apprentice and trainee commencements in 2016, with a slow decline in apprentice and trainee commencement numbers between 2010 and 2016. Around 35% of apprentices and trainees are located in Victoria and 21% are located in New South Wales.

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

Infographic title: Priority skills: 2017 skills forecast,, Infographic data,, Title: Top priority skills,,Communication, Dental technology, Clinical leadership, Leadership in a dental setting, Customer service "Title: Top generic skills,,Communication,Virtual collaboration,Social intelligence,,Learning agility,Information literacy,Intellectual autonomy and self-management,,Customer service,Marketing,,Language, Literacy and Numeracy,,Technology " Infographic title: Skills and occupations in demand: job vacancies,, Title: Top generic skills in demand,,Communication Skills, Organisational Skills, Team Work and Collaboration, Multi-Tasking, Computer Skills Title: Top 5 occupations in demand,,Dental Assistant, Dental Officer, Dental Assistant/Receptionist, Dental Nurse, Oral Health Therapist Title: Top 5 locations,, Top 5 Locations, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia Title: Top employers,,Top Employers, New South Wales Ministry of Health, Government of Queensland, Pacific Smiles Group, Queensland Health, Australian Department of Defence Infographic source, Priority skills source: Dental IRC Skills Forecast and Schedule of Work 2016-17, Job vacancy occupations in demand source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight Real Time Labor Market Information tool

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 in regards to Dental Hygienists, Assistants, and Technicians.     

Some of the challenges affecting the dental workforce and training requirements identified in the Dental IRC Industry Skills Forecast 2017 include:

  • Attracting and retaining workers in regional and rural areas
  • High turnover of Dental Assistant staff
  • Changing nature of duties, whereby mid-level staff are increasingly expected to take on more responsibilities
  • Need for greater leadership and management skills
  • Higher levels of customer interaction requiring stronger customer-service skills
  • Ongoing advancements in dental technologies means training products and professional development need to be kept up to date
  • Changing and emerging models of dental care mean there is increasing utilisation of lower-level workers and other health care professionals.

In order to address these challenges, the Dental IRC has identified the following skills as a priority for the Dental workforce:

  • Communication
  • Dental technology
  • Clinical leadership
  • Leadership in a dental setting
  • Customer service.


Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2017, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSIC 4 digit Dental Services industry, employment projections to May 2022
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2022
    • 4112 Dental Hygienists, Technicians and Therapists
    • 4232 Dental Assistants.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), sex, state and territory, August 1986 onwards 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1 September 2017 <>

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit occupations, 2000 to 2017, 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
    • HLT31802 - Certificate III in Dental Assisting
    • HLT31807 - Certificate III in Dental Assisting
    • HLT31812 - Certificate III in Dental Assisting
    • HLT32707 - Certificate III in Dental Laboratory Assisting
    • HLT32712 - Certificate III in Dental Laboratory Assisting
    • HLT35015 - Certificate III in Dental Assisting
    • HLT35115 - Certificate III in Dental Laboratory Assisting
    • HLT43007 - Certificate IV in Dental Assisting
    • HLT43012 - Certificate IV in Dental Assisting
    • HLT45015 - Certificate IV in Dental Assisting
    • HLT50507 - Diploma of Dental Technology
    • HLT50512 - Diploma of Dental Technology
    • HLT55115 - Diploma of Dental Technology
    • HLT60407 - Advanced Diploma of Dental Prosthetics
    • HLT60412 - Advanced Diploma of Dental Prosthetics
    • HLT65015 - Advanced Diploma of Dental Prosthetics.

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 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 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 2016 commencements
  • 2010 to 2016 completions 
  • 2016 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2016 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Dental Industry Reference Committee’s 2017 Industry Skills Forecast.

Burning Glass Technologies: Labor insight – real-time labor market information tool. <>. 2017.

  • Job advertisements from all of Australia from January 2014 to August 2017 are included in the analysis. Data shown is the top five advertised VET-related occupations (4112 Dental Hygienists, Technicians and Therapists and 4232 Dental Assistants) and the top five locations and employers according to job advertisements.
  • Skills data has also been extracted from the Burning Glass Labour insights job vacancy data tool. Data shown is the proportion of job advertisements which request generic skills for VET-related occupations in the industry and occupations listed above.
Updated: 04 Oct 2018
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