Are you thinking about working as a dental hygienist in Canada? It’s a popular career path that pays well within the dental field. Job prospects are good in most provinces and there is the opportunity to specialize in other areas within the dental field as you acquire more experience.
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. Also, you must have a license from the provincial or territorial regulatory body. 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 dental hygiene career in Canada, learn more about the licensing process, dental hygienist job search techniques, and more! Prepare to work in a dental hygienist job in Canada by reading this helpful overview.
- How to Immigrate to Canada as a Dental Hygienist
- What to Expect When Pursuing a Dental Hygienist Career in Canada
- Requirements for Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Canada
- Upgrading Your Skills to Meet Dental Hygiene Job Requirements
- Bridging Programs for Dental Hygienist Careers in Canada
- Dental Hygienist Schools in Canada
- Dental Hygiene Associations in Canada
- How Much Do Dental Hygienists Make in Canada?
- Best Provinces to Work in Canada as a Dental Hygienist Based on Salary & Lifestyle
- Pursuing a Dental Hygienist Career in Canada
- How to Become a Registered Dental Hygienist in Canada
- How to Find Your First Canadian Dental Hygienist Job
How to Immigrate to Canada as a Dental Hygienist
Before You Move to Canada to Pursue a Dental Hygienist Career
It’s important to take the time to research dental hygiene careers in Canada before moving to the country. 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 enroll 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.
What to Expect When Pursuing a Dental Hygienist Career in Canada
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.
Employment Outlook for Dental Hygienist Jobs in Canada
There are more than 30,000 registered dental hygienists in Canada. Close to half work in Ontario. About half of all job posts for this job are in Ontario, followed by other heavily populated provinces such as British Columbia, Quebec, and Alberta.
Even though the job market is competitive, dental hygienists are always in demand. With more immigrants moving to Canada and with a growing population, the demand for dental care continues to increase. The demand for dental care is also increasing because of the aging population and companies and government programs offering more dental insurance coverage. The aging population is also creating job opportunities as a portion of existing hygienists are retiring. Since about one-third of hygienist jobs are part-time, there is flexibility to work full or part-time.
The overall employment outlook for dental hygienists is good, with the most opportunity for jobs being in Ontario.
Start Your Research with the NOC Code for Dental Hygienist Jobs in Canada
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) provides a general overview and standard definition of the dental hygienist’s role in Canada. The five-digit NOC code 32111 applies to dental hygienists and dental therapists. Review this information to understand the main duties and employment requirements.
Requirements for Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Canada
Dental hygiene job requirements vary depending on where you live in the country. Licensing and requirements are set at the provincial level.
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. Below we explain the steps you will need to take to work as a Dental Hygienist in Canada:
Credential Recognition in Canada to Meet Dental Hygienist Employment Requirements
All foreign-trained dental hygiene graduates should contact theFederation of Dental Hygiene Regulators of Canada (NDHCB) for credential assessment. You can contact 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 registration of qualified practitioners are set by the regulatory bodies of dental hygienists.
Some regulatory bodies have arrangements with evaluation services that offer expert advice on how qualifications obtained abroad compare to Canadian credentials.
Credentials Assessment Services
If you are planning to enroll 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.
Get more information here: How do Education Evaluation and Credential Recognition Differ? (Infographic)
Upgrading Your Skills to Meet Dental Hygiene Job Requirements
Skills Upgrading to Qualify for Dental Hygienist Jobs in Canada
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.
Though not necessary, 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, you need 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 language skills, communication skills, and interpersonal skills. This may require additional skills upgrading.
Language Training for Dental Hygienists in Canada
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 terminologies, 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.
Bridging Programs for Dental Hygienist Careers in Canada
Bridging programs are an effective 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.
The Canadian Dental Hygiene Association provides a list of schools that offer credit and transfer agreements between Canadian dental hygiene programs and international universities. See the list for more information.
Dental Hygienist Schools in Canada
There are 35 accredited dental hygiene programs in Canada. Ontario has the most with 12 schools. We’ve included links to some of the dental hygiene programs across Canada.
Dental Hygiene 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
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.
For example, Nova Scotia has the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia that helps newcomer professionals with their full economic and social integration in the province of Nova Scotia. Ontario has the Professional Immigrant Networks.
How Much Do Dental Hygienists Make in Canada?
Dental hygienists are typically paid on an hourly basis. This is because many roles are part-time. The median wage is $39 per hour. The hourly range is typically from $27 to $55 per hour. In a full-time role, you would make between $51,948 and $105,820 per year. Your rates are based on your experience, specialization, job title, and your location within Canada.
Dental Hygienist Salary in Canada
Here are recent (as of Nov, 2022) Dental Hygienist wages/hour in Canada:
|Province||Low ($/hour)||Median ($/hour)||High ($/hour)|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||35.00||45.09||64.58|
|Prince Edward Island||29.00||35.00||40.00|
Best Provinces to Work in Canada as a Dental Hygienist Based on Salary & Lifestyle
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.
Ontario has the highest population, most schools, and most jobs, making it one of the best locations in all of Canada to work in dental hygiene.
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 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.
Pursuing a Dental Hygienist Career in Canada
Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Canada follows a similar path as many other careers in healthcare. You need to get the right academic credentials, relevant work experience, and a plan for where you want to work within the country.
In Canada, there is an opportunity to work in a variety of roles within the dental hygiene field. Consider this when looking for a job. Here are some of the job titles and specializations to research:
- Community dental hygienist
- Dental hygiene technician
- Dental hygienist technician
- Dental nurse
- Dental Therapist
- Expanded-duty dental hygienist
- Expanded-duty dental nurse
- Licensed dental therapist
- Orthodontic hygienist
- Periodontal hygienist
- Registered dental hygienist
- Registered dental therapist
- Restorative dental hygienist.
Major Employers for Dental Hygiene Jobs in Canada
In Canada, dental hygienists are employed in dentists’ offices, hospitals, clinics, educational institutions, government agencies, and private industry. Most employers are from local offices or regional franchises.
You can visit Canada’s Best Diversity Employers website to check for immigrant-friendly corporations and organizations you might be interested in. This special designation recognizes Canadian organizations that are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
How to Become a Registered Dental Hygienist in Canada
If you are a newcomer to Canada and don’t have formal dental hygienist training, you will need to follow the same steps as Canadians. You will need to complete the following steps:
- Research dental hygiene careers to make sure it’s what you want to pursue
- Get accepted to an accredited dental hygiene program in the province you reside
- Complete the 2 or 3-year dental hygiene program
- Write and pass the dental hygiene certification examination process
- Start your job search.
How to Find Your First Canadian Dental Hygienist Job
Searching for a dental hygienist job in Canada can be different than in your home country. The job market can in Canada is competitive and you may be up against other experienced dental hygienists.
Job Search Techniques for Dental Hygienists in Canada
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.
Work with Immigrant Settlement Agencies
Because finding a job in Canada may be different than in your home country and you may need help with your job search. Most settlement agencies provide job search services that include helping you to find job vacancies, updating your resume, writing a Canadian-style resume, and preparing 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 give 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 a 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 looking 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 hygienist program you have completed, the year of graduation, and the license obtained. If you have completed specific courses that fit some of the requirements of the dental practice, list them as well.
Use bullet points to describe your proficiency to make your dental hygienist qualification stand out. You don’t need to use a lengthy paragraph to describe everything that you know how to do, and bullet points are easy to read.
If you have unique skills that you gained while attending your dental hygienist program, list them in this section. Again, gear these skills to those 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.
Research the Dental Practice
Although most dental hygienists work in dental practices, the job duties and work requirements may not necessarily be 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, people older than 65, 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 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.
Techniques for Dental Hygienists Job Interviews
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 frequent 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 hygienist role?
- What are your salary expectations? Do some research so that you know the average wages for your level and area in Canada.
- What questions do you have? Always prepare at least two or three questions.
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 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 within the Dental Hygiene Profession
Networking is an essential tool that may give you job leads, gain 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 settings 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 must allow time to cultivate and grow the ties you establish through networking. Nothing will happen overnight, and you need to be patient.
Get more great tips for successful networking: Build Your Professional Network Before You Arrive.
Interested in learning more about working in Canada as a dental hygienist? Check out our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. We can help you achieve your career goals in Canada.