Working as a dentist in Canada is a good career choice and a profession that will face labour shortages in the coming years. Dentist salaries can be lucrative, but you must undergo extensive training to earn an attractive dentist salary. Dentist job requirements in Canada typically require one to four years of pre-dentistry university studies and a university degree from a recognized dental program. Also, you must obtain a license from a provincial or territorial regulatory body to practice in Canada. To continue your successful dentistry career in Canada, you must research the profession to understand the job requirements. Get the information you need to navigate job requirements for dentists with international experience.
- How to Immigrate to Canada as a Dentist
- What to Expect When Pursuing a Dentist Career in Canada
- Dentist Career Requirements in Canada
- Upgrading Your Skills to Meet Dentistry Job Requirements
- Bridging Programs for Dentist Careers in Canada
- Dentist Schools in Canada
- Dentist Associations in Canada
- How Much Do Dentists Make in Canada?
- Best Provinces for Dentist Careers in Canada Based on Salary & Lifestyle
- Major Employers for Dentistry Jobs in Canada
- How to Find Your First Canadian Dentist Job
How to Immigrate to Canada as a Dentist
It’s vital to research the dentistry profession in Canada before you arrive. Your thorough research will help you to understand what you require to continue to work as a dentist in Canada. Dentists belong to a regulated profession in Canada. And, it can take a great deal of time, money, and effort to obtain a license to d to practice dentistry in Canada. However, when you know the licensing process, you can prepare in advance.
Each province and territory has its own regulatory body to grant a license to practice dentistry within its jurisdiction. These regulatory bodies recognize the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) certificate.
Before You Move to Canada to Pursue a Dentist Career
These are some steps you can take before you move to Canada:
- Attend the What to Know About the Canadian Job Market webinar to learn about the labour market.
- Visit the Canadian Dental Association for general information on dental occupations in Canada.
- Contact the Provincial regulatory body to learn about the licensing process, and the steps that you can take before and after you arrive in Canada (see section 5: Dentistry Associations). Find out what documents you need to bring and if they need to be translated. You may need to use a professional translation service in Canada.
- Take an online self-assessment on the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks website to assess your language skills.
- Improve your language skills and enroll in language classes while you are in your home country and continue them when you arrive in Canada. You will need to prove your English or French (depending on your destination province) language competency or be tested.
- Gather and organize your official education, work, and identity documents while still in your home country.
- Complete a “Certificate of Standing” form that is required by Canadian provinces and territories. Your current (and any previous licensing body or governing authority such as the Ministry of Health must complete the form. You can get the form from the Canadian regulator’s website or from them directly.
- Research dentist salary and benefits information
What to Expect When Pursuing a Dentist Career in Canada
Dentistry is a regulated profession in Canada, so you must be a licensed member of a provincial or territorial regulatory body to practice or use the title of dentist or dental surgeon. With this license, you can work in private practice, hospitals, clinics, public health facilities, or universities. It’s also important to understand how dentistry is practiced in Canada and to become familiar with the legislation that governs dentistry in the province where you’ll settle.
Employment Outlook for Dentist Jobs in Canada
Understanding the demand for dentists in Canada can help you determine what the job prospects will be like. To find out more about job prospects, wages, jobs, requirements, and skills, you can visit the Canada job bank. With this information, you can research the national, provincial, and regional job forecasts for dentists.
According to current data for the period of 2022-2031, employment growth for dentists is above the average for all occupations. There are expected to be about 13,500 new opportunities. This is due to industry expansion as well as many existing dentists retiring in the coming years. However, there is a shortage of dentists to fill these roles, creating an opportunity for internationally trained dentists.
Start Your Research with the NOC Code for Dentist Jobs in Canada
If you have international qualifications, it’s important to know what you require to work in Canada and understand the Canadian labour market. The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is a great place to start your research. Here, you’ll find general information about the job profile, example dentistry titles, duties, and job requirements. Using the 5-digit NOC code 31110 for Dentists you can use this information to help with your job search.
Dentist Career Requirements in Canada
To practice as a dentist, you need to have a license in Canada regardless of your education or experience in another country. So, it’s important to contact the provincial or territorial regulatory body (links provided below) that governs the dental profession in Canada before you arrive in Canada. They can tell you what documents you will require as well as the cost of assessment fees. The licensing process can be lengthy and expensive. So you need to prepare for this reality and ensure that you afford both the time and cost. Take your time to learn about the licensing process and what the dental regulatory body will expect of you.
All regulatory bodies recognize the certificate of the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB). However, to write the exam, you must be a graduate from an accredited program in Canada or the USA – and with some conditions, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.
If you have graduated from a dental program outside of the mentioned countries, you will be considered an internationally educated dentist and have to take a two-year qualifying program to sit for the exam. In addition to the application and document verification processes, the NDEB assessment process includes three assessments:
- Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge
- Assessment of Clinical Judgement
- Assessment of Clinical Judgment
You need to successfully complete all three steps before you can write the NDEB exams. Once you pass these exams you may apply to the dental regulator in your province to get licensed.
If you’re immigrating to Quebec, you have three years to meet the mandatory requirement for French language proficiency. If you wish to work in a dental specialty, you will need additional training.
Credentials Assessment Services
If you plan to enroll in a university program to upgrade your skills, contact the school that you plan to attend to learn what credential assessment agency you should use. You can use these credential assessment services for more information:
To find other credential evaluation, assessment and qualification recognition services click here.
Upgrading Your Skills to Meet Dentistry Job Requirements
In addition to accreditation, upgrading your skills through a bridging program or other courses and workshops is an important part of your journey to becoming a dentist in Canada. As a dentist, you must continually update your knowledge and skills on new dental procedures and practices. You can benefit from ongoing learning and professional growth offered through continuing education courses and seminars.
You may have strong technical skills, but often that is not enough to get a job or maintain it afterward. As a dentist, you must have skills that include:
- Providing emergency care or other treatment
- Assessing conditions through exams or diagnostic testing
- Using special instruments and equipment, and more.
You may need more training or skills upgrading, especially your soft skills.
If you would like to be a self-employed dentist, you may require advanced business skills as well as financial resources to establish and maintain the dental practice.
Improving Your Language Skills for Dentistry Jobs
Dentistry requires advanced language abilities in reading, writing, and speaking. Having strong skills in one or both of Canada’s official languages – English or French – is extremely 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. Read more about the importance of communication skills.
You may be eligible for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Otherwise, you can find other free or affordable 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 if you are located in Ontario, Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT). You may already speak one of Canada’s two official languages at a high level, and learning the other one is a good option for better job opportunities.
Bridging Programs for Dentist Careers 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. Learn more about bridging programs to find one that’s suitable for you:
This centre provides internationally educated health professionals with the necessary tools to become successfully licensed in their Health Care Profession in Alberta/Canada. Participants will be assigned a dentist Career Coach who will guide them through the licensing and employment process.
University of British Columbia
This program is offered to graduates of international dental programs that are not accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada. This two-year program will lead to the awarding of the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree.
University of Manitoba
This program is offered to graduates of international dental programs not accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada.
University of Toronto
This program is for graduates of non-accredited dental programs that have not been recognized by The Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada. It prepares them to take the NDEB examinations. After successful completion of this 5-month program, students are fully integrated into the third year of U of T’s four-year Doctor of Dental Surgery Program (DDS), leading to the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery.
Held over two academic years beginning in May/June, the Program leads to a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree (DDS). Upon successful completion of the ITD Program and the NDEB Written and Objective Structured Clinical Examinations, candidates will be eligible for licensure/registration as a dentist in all Canadian provinces (a French proficiency exam is required for licensure in Quebec).
Dentist Schools in Canada
If you plan to continue your education, there are 10 dental schools in Canada. Each one has specific programs and specializations. You can research different schools to determine which one is best for you based on your career goals:
Dentist Associations in Canada
The following associations can provide more information about licensing, certification, professional development, education, and networking opportunities.
National Dentistry Associations in Canada
Provincial/Territorial Dental Regulatory Bodies
Alberta Dental Association and College (ADAC)
New Brunswick Dental Society (NBDS)
Newfoundland and Labrador
Professional immigrant networks (PINS): These volunteer associations or networks are created by and for immigrant professionals and seek to create a forum to contribute to and enrich their respective communities. They also provide opportunities for their members to find meaningful employment and achieve their professional goals.
PINS offers activities that include networking events, mentoring, information sessions, professional development opportunities, and connections to job opportunities.
For example, in Nova Scotia there is isans: Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia: isans helps newcomer professionals to integrate economically and socially in the province of Nova Scotia.
How Much Do Dentists Make in Canada?
Dentist salaries can span a wide range depending on your experience and level of specialization. According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, dentist salaries can range from approximately $30,000 to about $350,000 annually. The province with the highest average dentist salary is Alberta ($127, 890). The province with the lowest average dentist salary is British Columbia ($104,055).
Dentist Salary in Canada
Here are the most recent dentist salary (November 2022) numbers in Canada. At this time, data is not available for all provinces and territories.
Best Provinces for Dentist Careers in Canada Based on Salary & Lifestyle
There is an increasing demand for dentists in Canada because of population growth, an aging population, and technological advancement in diagnosis and treatment. Though the demand for dentists is throughout Canada, you may want to consider the fast-growing provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and rural areas throughout the country. Large cities such as Toronto, are also a good option. A dentist’s salary will vary based on your location and the job prospects.
Also, it is important to consider the availability of bridging or other educational qualifying programs in dentistry when researching and choosing your destination city. Visit Choosing a City to discover cities across Canada and learn about the local employment market, the housing market, newcomer support, and more.
Major Employers for Dentistry Jobs in Canada
Dentists in Canada work in private practices or may be employed in hospitals, clinics, public health facilities, or universities. Some are employed by local, provincial, and federal health authorities or choose to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces.
If you want to explore possible dental career opportunities outside the dental practice, you may consider working as a dental educator, researcher, administrator, or sales representative. These options also offer competitive dental salaries. You can also visit Canada’s Best Diversity Employers website. This special designation recognizes Canada’s best employers for diversity and inclusion.
How to Find Your First Canadian Dentist Job
The Canadian job market is competitive, so you must prepare and understand the steps to gain employment. You must register to practice as a dentist in the province or territory where you intend to work and look for jobs in that region. Take your time to research job requirements in the region and develop a plan to find work.
There are many ways to search for a job in dentistry for example:
- Broaden your search and include alternative dentist careers.
- 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 dentistry job-finding or networking clubs through immigrant-serving agencies.
- Attend healthcare or dentist career/job fairs and regularly check online job boards.
- Visit dental college websites and view their job bank. As well, hospitals and other health institutions generally post vacancies on their websites.
For more information on job search techniques, click here.
Use Immigrant Settlement Agencies
Finding a job in Canada may be different than in your home country. Most settlement agencies and other immigrant-serving organizations offer help to find job vacancies, update your resume, write cover letters, prepare for interviews and understand what Canadian employers are looking for.
Click here to find immigrant services in your area.
Network with Dental Professionals
Networking is a critical activity that involves building relationships with other professionals to expand your connections. When done effectively, you can find job leads, gain advice and information about the dental profession, and expand your network. Networking can also help you discover jobs that go unadvertised in what is known as the “hidden” job market. Making connections with other dentists and others in your field can help you discover jobs.
Good places to meet new people and network with others include conferences, associations, and schools.
LinkedIn is another important professional tool for networking. It is great to connect with former colleagues and employers, search by company or jobs, and get introductions and recommendations. You can also connect with people in the dental field and join related professional groups.
Conduct Informational Interviews with Practicing Dentists
While the job outlook is good for dentists, landing that next opportunity, requires effort and outreach. Informational interviewing is an effective way to practice your communication abilities, research skills, and networking talents to work for your own benefit.
An informational interview is a brief, 20–30-minute meeting that you schedule with a person who is currently working in dentistry in Canada. The purpose of the interview is to learn more about the profession in Canada and gain insights.
Your goal should not be to get a job but rather to learn more about dentistry in Canada and industry trends and issues. An informational interview with a contact from your network can be an excellent source of dentist career information because, in addition to basic information about the dental field, you’ll also gain from hearing directly about your contact’s first-hand experience and impressions.
To identify possible people to meet with, use your existing network to identify people that you would like to speak to. Create 15-20 or so open-ended questions that will yield useful information about dentistry in Canada.
Resume Writing Tips for Dentist Jobs in Canada
All dentists have degrees, but where they separate themselves is in their experience, expertise, and special training. You can stand out and create an effective resume by highlighting your special skills and experience. Consider these tips when preparing your resume:
- Emphasize your clinical skills and education if you’re applying to a large general dental practice.
- Highlight any experience you have with the business administration side of the profession.
- List any certification or proficiency in specific dental skills (oral surgery, anesthesia, pediatric dentistry, etc.).
- List your professional organizations and publishing experience, if any. Even if it’s just been writing advice columns for your community newspaper, an employer will look favourably at a dentist who keeps a good public profile.
- Limit the length of your resume to two pages.
Interview Techniques for Dentistry Jobs in Canada
Practice is key before you attend an interview and it can make the difference between a job offer or a job decline. To prepare for an interview for a role in dentistry, here are some questions that an interviewer may ask you:
- How would you describe your educational experience?
- What type of personality types do you work best with?
- How would you handle an unhappy or uncomfortable patient?
- What do you like most about dentistry? Least?
- What would you say is your dental philosophy?
- How would you describe your knowledge of current dentistry technology and procedures?
- What professional development have you done in the last year to enhance your skills and knowledge?
- What experience do you have with the business and administrative side of running a dental practice?
Questions You May Want to Ask in a Dentistry Job Interview
- How is your dental practice changing? Is it growing?
- Do you actively market or depend on referrals?
- What are your goals for the practice?
- What role would I play in this practice?
Avoid asking questions about dentist’s salary and benefits until the time is right or the subject is brought up by the interviewer. It’s helpful if you have a portfolio of your work. Obviously, respect the anonymity and privacy of your patients, but you can impress a prospective employer when you can show the quality of your work (before and after photos, case histories, etc.).
Regardless of the type of dental practice you work for, make sure that you convey value to your next boss. How much did you produce? Yes, you are highly trained, qualified, and skilled, but at the end of the day, this is about operating a profitable small business. A dental practice wants to know that you are going to contribute as least as much and hopefully more to your next practice than you have to your current employer.
Interested in learning more about working in Canada? Check out our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. We can help you achieve your career goals in Canada.