Dentistry job requirements in Canada typically require one to four years of pre-dentistry university studies and a university degree from a recognized dental program. As well, you must be licensed by a provincial or territorial regulatory body. To continue your successful dentistry career in Canada, you must know the job requirements, how to research the dentistry profession in Canada, job search techniques, and more. Get the information to help you navigate Canadian requirements for dentists with international experience.
Before You Move to Canada
It’s vital that you research your profession in Canada before you arrive. Your careful 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 because of this, it can take a great deal of time, money, and effort to get licensed to practice dentistry in Canada. However, when you know what’s required for the licensing process, you can prepare in advance.
Each province and territory has a licensing body which grants a license to practice dentistry within its jurisdiction. These regulatory bodies recognize the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) certificate.
These are some steps you can take before you move to Canada:
- Attend the What to Know About the Canadian Job Market webinar.
- 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 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.
1. Understanding Dentistry Job Requirements
Dentistry is a regulated profession in Canada, so you must be a licensed member of a provincial/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.
Researching Dentistry 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 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.
Using the NOC for Dentists: NOC 31110
2. Employment for Dentists 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. According to current data for the period of 2019-2028, employment growth for dentists is above the average for all occupations. With this information, you can research the national, provincial, and regional job forecasts for dentists.
Credential Recognition in Canada
One of the first things to do is to find out what you require to work as a dentist in Canada. Provincial regulatory bodies that govern the dental profession in Canada can tell you what documents you require as well as assessment fees. It’s important to take this step before you arrive in Canada. You can contact the regulatory body for the province where you plan to settle (see links in Section 5).
It’s also important to take your time to learn about the licensing procedure and what the dental regulatory body will expect of you. To practice as a dentist, you need to get licensed in Canada regardless of your education or experience in another country.
All regulatory bodies recognize the certificate of the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB). However, to write the exam, you have to be graduated 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.
To find other credential evaluation, assessment and qualification recognition services click here.
Best Locations for Dentistry Jobs in Canada
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.
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.
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 career opportunities outside the dental practice, you may consider working as a dental educator, researcher, administrator or sales representative.
You can also visit Canada’s Best Diversity Employers website. This special designation recognizes Canada’s best employers for diversity and inclusion.
3. 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.
Skills Upgrading for Dentistry Jobs
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 condition through exams or diagnostic testing
- Using special instruments and equipment, and more.
You may need more training or skills upgrading, especially with regard to your soft skills.
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 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 you better job opportunities.
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.
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. Read more about the benefits of higher education for newcomers.
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:
Bredin Centre for Learning
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 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 that are 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.
University of Western Ontario – London
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).
4. Job Search Techniques for Dentists
The Canadian job market is competitive, so you must prepare and understand the steps to gain employment.
You have to 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 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 dentistry 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 finding techniques, click here.
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.
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.
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 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 for Dentistry 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?
- Once you knew you were interested in healthcare, why did you choose dental and not medical or veterinarian?
- How would you describe your knowledge of current dentistry technology and procedures?
- What have you done in the last year to improve your 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?
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.
5. Dentistry Associations in Canada
The following associations can provide more information about licensing, certification, professional development, education, and networking opportunities.
Provincial/Territorial Dental Regulatory Bodies
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
- 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.
isans: Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia: isans helps newcomer professionals to integrate economically and socially in the province of Nova Scotia.
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!