Dentist | Ponder


What type of person would this field suit?

  • You need to be well educated in science
  • You’ll need great dexterity, a steady hand and good hand-to-eye coordination
  • You have to have good people skills, if you want to gain patient’s trust and put them at ease. It’s also necessary for communicating important information in a way that they can understand
  • Work in an organised, methodical manner, with attention to details
  • Have lots of patience and be able to focus for long periods
  • Work well in a team, with motivational and leadership skills highly valued
  • Stay calm under pressure in emergency situations, and have thick skin when dealing with nervous and difficult patients
  • Be trained in the use of specialist equipment, but adaptable and have good business knowledge


Industries where you find dental practitioners:

  • Health care in the fields of oral health, orthodontics, anatomy, physiology, pathology, oncology, pharmacology, radiology, cosmetic dentistry, surgery, and forensics. Working in private practises, hospitals, dental hospitals, teaching hospitals, universities, community health, schools, armed forces, prisons.
  • Teaching in communities, schools and higher learning establishments
  • Research
  • Insurance – health and dental



If you’ve got the skills, grades and commitment required to begin a career in dentistry, there are two main pathways. To apply for both you’ll need: a high ATAR, a great UCAT result, and to be successfully interviewed. Depending on the dental school, there may be other tests too.

You could apply to study a Bachelor of Dental Surgery at JCU and become a qualified dentist in 5 years.

Apply for a degree in a related field such as a Bachelor of Science, maintain a high GPA, get a high score on the GAMSAT test and successfully undertake another interview. Before completing a Doctor of Dental Medicine at the University of Sydney. This pathway takes 7 years to become a qualified dentist.

Alternatively, if you’d like to work in this industry but would prefer to start working sooner, A VET qualification through TAFE or another RTO could be perfect for you.

You could consider becoming a dental assistant with a Certificate III in Dental Assisting from TAFE Queensland. Or a dental hygienist with a Certificate IV in Dental Assisting. Perhaps a Dental laboratory technician through a Diploma of Dental Technology.



Dental Assistant

Minimum requirement Certificate III in Dental Assisting

Dental assistants have a variety of duties. From sterilising and preparing instruments, taking and developing x-rays, and helping dentists perform some procedures. To making appointments and taking patient details.

On average a Dental Assistant receives AU$25.40 per hour, or AU$51,318 per year.


Dental Assistant – Prospect, SA

Dental Assistant – Canberra, ACT


Dental Hygienist

Minimum Certificate IV in Dental Assisting

If you’d like to fast track your career, you could consider an Advanced Diploma of Oral Health or a Bachelor of Oral Health.

As a mid-level dentistry career, you’d have more responsibility than a dental assistant.  You might be carrying out oral examinations looking out for potential cavities and diseases such as gingivitis, tasked with cleaning and polishing patients’ teeth.

Depending on your qualifications and experience you could expect to earn on average between AU$40- $65 per hour, or $80,879 – $133,621 per year.


Dental Hygienist – Joondalup, WA

Dental Hygienist (Orthodontics) – Port Macquarie, NSW


General Dentist

Bachelor degree and Doctorate degree

General dentists (like a GP) see lots of patients and perform a wide variety of checks and procedures.

In their day-to-day work, the general dentist handles oral health care, disease prevention, general tooth and gum maintenance such as cleaning and fluoride treatments, as well as root canals and cavity fillings.

The average salary for a General Dentist in 2018 was AU$83,549 per year. Dentists working in private clinics, or in rural locations, or who work overtime, could earn a lot more.


Dentist in Cowra NSW

Associate Dentist – Australia wide

Rural Dentist – Narrogin, WA



Bachelor degree + Doctorate + specialisation

Orthodontists specialise in aligning jaws and positioning teeth correctly.

You need to do more training on top of the “standard” dental qualifications to become an orthodontist.

With 5-9 years of experience you could expect to earn AU$100,369, with 10-19 years of experience AU$175,000.


Orthodontist – Gosford, NSW

Hospital Orthodontist – Herston, QLD

Lecturer – University of Melbourne


Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon 

Bachelor degree + Doctorate + 4 years residency experience + specialisation. But you’ll also have to complete an MD to qualify. This pathway therefore will take a really long time, so you’ll have to be super committed and passionate.

Perform complex surgeries on teeth, jaws and facial bones.

Due to the necessary skills, experience an educational requirements, this is an elite field.

Entry level (with 3-4 years’ experience) average a salary of $226,708, with 8+ years of experience you could expect an average salary of  $444,114.


Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon – Canberra Health Services

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Resident Medical Officer – ACT


Growth in this industry is very strong and expected to remain so.

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