The employment requirements for a dental hygienist in Canada include completion of a two to three-year dental hygiene program. The program must be approved by the provincial or territorial governing board where you intend to settle. As well, you must have a licence from the provincial or territorial regulatory body (see links in section five). Dental hygienists belong to a regulated profession in Canada, so you must also register with the appropriate regulatory body to use the title of dental hygienist. If you are interested in continuing your career in Canada, learn more about the licensing process, dental hygienist job search techniques and more!
Before You Move to Canada
These steps can help you to research your profession and improve your chances of continuing your career in Canada.
- Attend the What to Know About the Canadian Job Market webinar to learn more about job search strategies.
- Contact the regulatory body for dental hygienists in the province or territory where you plan to settle to learn about the:
- Licensing process
- Specific procedures to follow
- Language requirements
- Potential licensing costs
- Time required to become licensed.
- Assess your language skills by taking an online self-assessment on the Canadian Language Benchmarks website.
- Improve your language skills and enrol in language classes while you are in your home country and continue them after moving to Canada.
- Gather and organize your official education, work and identity documents while still in your home country. Find out what documents you need to bring for employment purposes or to continue your education. Verify if any documents need to be translated. You may need to use a professional translation service in Canada.
- Understand how the dental hygienist profession is practiced in Canada and familiarize yourself with the procedures, laws, and legislation that govern your profession in the province where you’ll settle.
- Know the name of your job in Canada and example titles to assist with your job search.
1. Understanding Dental Hygienist Job Requirements
It’s important to research your profession before you arrive in Canada. Ideally, you want to have a general overview of what you require to work in Canada and how your international qualifications will be assessed. It’s also helpful to understand the Canadian labour market and what the demand is for dental hygienists.
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) provides a general overview and standard definition of the dental hygienist role in Canada. The five-digit NOC code 32111 applies to dental hygienists and dental therapists. Revies this information to understand main duties and employment requirements.
2. Employment for Dental Hygienists in Canada
To explore future job prospects by province and territory, you can get check out future prospects for the next three years. You can even get local information for each province. This information can help you choose a city based on the expected job prospects.
Credential Recognition in Canada to Meet Dental Hygienist Employment Requirements
All foreign-trained dental hygiene graduates should contact the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board (NDHCB) for credential assessment. You can contact as well the appropriate regulatory body directly to find out about assessment procedures, but note that most are not set up to assess foreign credentials before you arrive in Canada. The standards for entry into the profession and for registration of qualified practitioners are set by the regulatory bodies of dental hygienists.
Some regulatory bodies have made arrangements with evaluation services which offer expert advice on how qualifications obtained abroad are compared to Canadian credentials.
Credentials Assessment Services
If you are planning to enrol in a college or university program to upgrade your skills, contact the institution in which you plan to study and find out the steps you should take and the credential assessment agency you should use.
Be sure to highlight your international education and skills. Build on existing knowledge and skills and explore university and college options thoroughly before you decide if it’s necessary to return to school. You might be able to get advanced standing, transfer some of your credits and benefit from prior learning assessment options by using your international credentials and experience. If you can get course credits or exemptions, you can complete your program faster and save money if you don’t have to repeat the education you already have.
The NDHCB uses the following foreign credential assessments, which are advisory only and do not guarantee recognition of your qualifications for employment or licensure in Canada.
To find more organizations and agencies providing credential evaluation, assessment and qualification recognition services click here.
Best Locations for Dental Hygienist Jobs
There is currently a growing need for dental hygienists and dental therapists in Canada mainly because of the increased public awareness about oral health and dentists’ preference for dental hygienists over dental assistants. This trend is expected to continue, with the number of hygienists and dental therapists continuing the sharp rise over the next few years.
Most Canadian cities have job opportunities for dental hygienists. However, when looking for jobs, broaden your geographic area to include smaller cities and towns close to your target city. For example, if you intend to live in Toronto, you might find a job opportunity in nearby Markham, Richmond Hill, or Hamilton. All of these cities are within an hour’s drive from Toronto.
Research and find out where there is a good demand for dental hygienists in Canada to help you decide where you would like to settle in Canada.
In Canada, dental hygienists are employed in dentists’ offices, hospitals, clinics, educational institutions, government agencies and private industry.
You can visit the Canada’s Best Diversity Employers website to check for immigrant-friendly corporations and organizations which you might be interested in. This special designation recognizes Canadian organizations that are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
3. Upgrading Your Skills to Meet Dental Hygiene Job Requirements
Canadian employers put a high emphasis on soft skills, which are personal attributes that enhance your interactions, job performance, and career prospects. Unlike your hard skills, you can apply your soft skills broadly.
Soft skills, such as oral communication, decision-making, and critical thinking are important for dental hygienists. In addition, Canadian employers expect you to have the following skills and attributes:
- Strong English language and communication skills
- Excellent interpersonal skills
- Ability to assess patient needs, explain procedures and make patients comfortable
- Excellent organization skills
- Ability to solve problems and make decisions
- Enjoy working with people and working as part of a team.
If your hard skills get you an interview, most probably it is your soft skills that will allow you to succeed in the job.
Though not a must, upgrading your education and skills through a bridging program or more education may be an important part of your journey to becoming a successful medical radiation technologist in Canada. Therefore, it is important for you to participate in lifelong learning and demonstrate your professional growth.
You may have strong technical skills, but often that is not enough to get a job or maintain it afterward. Other skills are equally important such as your language skills, communication skills, and interpersonal skills. This may require additional skills upgrading.
Upgrading Your Language Skills
You need to have strong English or French (depending on your destination province) language competency and you may be tested. Even if you speak fluent English or French, it’s helpful to improve your language skills. Having strong communication skills in one or both of Canada’s official languages, English or French, is important for your future in Canada. Whether you choose to focus on learning or improving English or French will depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you intend to live.
Find out about language requirements if you have completed your dental hygienist education in a language other than English and French. Contact the dental hygienist regulatory body in the province where you will settle to find out about specific language requirements to work. If your professional training was in English or French, they may require you to send confirmation from your training institution that the language of instruction and assessment in your program was English or French.
You may be eligible for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Otherwise, you can find other free or affordable classes in English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) classes through school boards or settlement agencies. There are even language courses to teach you professional terminology, such as job-specific language training and Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT) in Ontario. And, if you already speak one of Canada’s two official languages at a high level, learning the other one is a good option, as it may offer better job opportunities.
Many immigrants take further education after coming to Canada. Some even want to change careers or enhance their careers with a Ph.D. or MBA.
In most Canadian provinces and territories, dental hygienists are required to take a certain number of continuing education courses every year. Read more about higher education in Canada.
Bridging programs are a good way to transition from your international experience and training to the Canadian workplace. Many colleges, universities, and immigrant-serving agencies offer bridging programs or workshops. You may be eligible for one. Do some research to find a program that’s suitable for you.
4. Job Search Techniques for Dental Hygiene
The demand for dental hygienists in Canada is good, however, the Canadian job market is very competitive, so be prepared and understand each of the steps needed to gain employment. As well, finding a job in Canada may be very different than in your home country.
You must look for dental jobs in the region where you will settle. Therefore, take your time to research job requirements in that region and develop a plan to find work.
Here are some tips to help you search for a dental hygienist job:
- Broaden your search and include alternative careers and sectors.
- Seek out a mentor in the dental sector who would give you valuable insight and advice and probably introduce you to their professional network.
- Join dental-related job-finding or networking clubs through immigrant-serving agencies.
- Attend industry job fairs and regularly check online job boards. Some colleges or associations may maintain a job bank or suggest a commercial job site.
Immigrant Settlement Agencies
Finding a job in Canada may be different than in your home country and you may need help with your job search efforts. Most settlement agencies provide job search services that include helping you to find job vacancies, update your resume, write a Canadian-style resume, and prepare for interviews.
Click the link to find immigrant services in your area.
Writing Your Resume for a Dental Hygienist Job
Writing a strong resume is important because it’s the first impression that you present to potential employers. This is your first chance to market yourself and shine. Having said that, it is important to include in your resume only the details that are important to the position you are applying for.
Here are a few tips to get your resume noticed by employers:
Briefly explain what you are looking for and what you have to offer. The position you are applying for is for dental hygienist so be brief and specific.
For example, rather than stating that you are seeking full-time employment at a great dental office, you could state “I am look forward to being part of a dynamic pediatric dental team”. You need to be specific and tailor each resume that you send.
List your work experience and emphasize your experience and the results that you achieved. This section should immediately follow your objective.
List the name of the dental hygientist program you have completed, the year of graduation, and the license obtained. If you have completed specific courses that fit some of the particular requirements of the dental practice, list them as well.
Use bullet points to describe your proficiency to to make your dental hygientist qualification stand out. You don’t need to use lengthy paragraph to describe everything that you know how to do, and bullet points are easy to read.
If you have special skills that you gained while attending your dental hygienist program, list them in this section. Again, gear these skills to those that that the dental practice will value.
List specific technology that you have worked with such as digital X-ray equipment, as well as any awards or honours you have received to show that you are hardworking and want to excel.
Investigate the Dental Practice
Although most dental hygienists work in dental practices, the job duties and work requirements may not be necessarily the same.
Take time to investigate the dental practices in which you want to work. This way you will increase your chances of being hired by one of them, and you’ll be able to target your resume to the exact job requirements of a specific practice.
Use the internet, or conduct informational interviews to get information about the practice, such as the location and size of the practice, the specialty of the dentist and even specific dental techniques that the practice offers the patients. Some of the questions you can ask include:
- What are some of the main duties of dental hygienists in this dental office?
- What are their specific hiring requirements for their dental hygienists (i.e. education, training, experience level)?
- How many patients does the dental practice have?
- What is the ratio of patient groups (i.e. children, adults, seniors, etc.) in this dental practice?
The answers to these questions will help you to decide if you would like to work there — and how you should write your resume to fit that particular dental office. Naturally, some practices may not want to give this information over the phone — in that case, wait until your job interview to ask your questions.
Interview Techniques for Dental Hygienists
Though it is impossible to prepare for every single question that you may be asked during the job interview, it is helpful to review and prepare for some of the common questions:
- Why should we hire you (what makes you right for the position)?
- What would you say are some of your strengths and weaknesses? Avoid saying that you don’t have any weaknesses!
- What did you like most about working in your previous dental hygientist role?
- What are your salary expectations? Do some research so that you know average wages for your level and area in Canada.
- What questions do you have? Always prepare at least two or three questions.
- Ask good questions
- How many active patients does the practice have?
- What is the estimated overhead cost for hygiene per hour?
- How much treatment time is allotted for hygiene patients?
During your first interview, avoid asking immediately about salary and benefits. It’s also important that you speak positively about your previous employers.
An informational interview is a 20 or 30 minute meeting that you schedule with a person who is currently working in the dental hygiene field. The purpose of the meeting is to learn more about the profession in Canada, and some of the issues affecting the profession.
You should not try to get a dental job during an informational interview but rather gain insights about the profession in Canada. An informational interview with a contact from your network can be an excellent source of career information because, in addition to gathering information about the dental field in Canada, you’ll gain your contact’s first-hand experience and impressions of the field.
Networking is an essential tool that may give you job leads, offer you advice and information about a particular dental job or practice, and expand your network. As many job vacancies are not advertised, you must make connections with practicing dental hygienists and others in your field.
Good places to network include conferences, associations, and schools. These are ideal setting to meet other people, build professional relationships, and share information.
LinkedIn is another important professional tool for networking. It is great to connect with former colleagues and employers. You can also research companies and dental jobs and get introductions and recommendations. You can also join some related professional dental groups.
But remember, that you have to allow time to cultivate and grow the ties you establish through networking. Nothing will happen overnight and you need to be patient.
5. Dental Hygienist Associations in Canada
The associations listed below provide additional information about licensure and certification and offer a variety of professional development, education and networking opportunities.
National Dental Hygienist Associations
Provincial Dental Hygienist Regulatory Bodies
New Brunswick Dental Society (NBDS)
Newfoundland and Labrador
Professional immigrant networks are organized, volunteer-run member-based associations or networks created by and for immigrant professionals that seek to:
- Create a forum to contribute to and enrich their respective communities
- Provide opportunities for their members to find meaningful employment and achieve their professional goals
These groups offer networking events, mentoring, information sessions, professional development, and connections to job opportunities. eaker events and training and connections to job opportunities.
isans helps newcomer professionals with their full economic and social integration in the province of Nova Scotia.
Professional Immigrant Networks (TRIEC)
For information, tools, free webinars, and more visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals in Canada!