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Working as a Dentist [NOC 3113]

Job Description

Dentists diagnose, treat and prevent disorders of the mouth.

Working as a Dentist you will perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Examine patients’ teeth, gums, and surrounding tissue to diagnose disease, injury, and decay, and plan appropriate treatment
  • Restore, extract, and replace diseased and decayed teeth
  • Perform oral surgery, periodontal surgery, and other treatments
  • Give advice on oral hygiene

Source: WorkBC Career Profile for Dentists

Industry Overview

Population growth, an aging population, and technological advancement in diagnosis and treatment, are increasing the demand for dental services.  Industry reports the current supply of new graduates is insufficient to meet demand. In particular, there is currently a shortage of dentists in rural areas of the province. As such, new graduates may find increased employment opportunities in more rural areas of the province, where employers have more difficulty finding qualified dentists.

Job Outlook in BC

JobBank Canada reports that the employment outlook will be good for Dentists (NOC 3113) in British Columbia for the 2018-2020 period.  WorkBC forecasts that from 2018-2023, the average employment growth rate will be 2.2%.

bc labour market outlook for 2018-2028: forecasted average employment growth rate, job openings, composition of job openings

You can learn more about dentists in BC from:

Types of Employers

Most dentists work in private practice, but you may also be employed in hospitals, clinics, public health facilities, or universities.


The annual provincial median salary for dentists is $104,055.

Dentists are paid directly by patients or by patient insurance companies. Much of a dentist’s earnings are used to pay for their business expenses such as equipment, insurance, and staff salaries. Self-employed dentists must provide their own benefits.

Income varies based on their level of experience, location, and specialty. Salary also depends on how many regular patients a dentist sees.

Job Bank Canada provides annual salary for Dentists in BC – only the figures for Lower Mainland (Southwest region) are published:

Annual salary for dentists
Source: Job Bank Canada

Working Hours

Most dentists work 7 or 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Dentists in private practice often have the flexibility to choose when and how many hours (full-time or part-time) they want to work. In some instances, you may be required to adjust hours to meet patients’ needs. Early evening and weekend work is becoming more common.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Dentists, Career Cruising (Profile for Dentist)

Skills, Education and Experience


  • strong interpersonal and communication skills as well as patience
  • good hand-eye coordination
  • aptitude for using mechanical equipment
  • high degree of manual dexterity
  • able to calm people who are scared or in pain
  • in control and focused, even when tired

Sources: Career Cruising database (Profile for Dentist).

Education and Experience

Dentists require:

  • One to four years of pre-dentistry university studies, and
  • University degree from a recognized dental program – a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree is most common; however, a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree or Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree may be sufficient
  • In order to practice in B.C., all dentists must be registered with the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia (CDSBC).

The Faculty of Dentistry at the University of British Columbia offers the province’s only program that leads to a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree (DMD).

Further education is required in order to become a dental specialist.


This occupation is regulated in British Columbia.

Licensing Requirements for Dentists

To practice dentistry in BC, you must:

To maintain a licence to practice in BC, the College of Dental Surgeons of BC (CDSBC) requires:

For more information on licensing and registration as a dentist, see the College of Dental Surgeons of BC website.

Internationally educated dentists:

Registration with the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia (CDSBC) is required in order to be able to practise as a dentist in B.C.

  • the path to registration depends on whether your education is from an Accredited or Non-Accredited Dental Program:

For more information see:

Additional information for foreign-trained dentists is provided on the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials website.

Finding Jobs

You may find job advertisements in trade journals, electronic sources, local newspapers, as well through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun and The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available in print at the Central Library or online at
    NOTE:  Access at VPL locations only
    See categories 2280-2479, “Health/Medical Professionals”, and Categories 6840-7079, “Health Services”

Online Job Postings

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For dentists, look for these related job titles (from NOC):

  • dental surgeon
  • endodontist
  • oral pathologist
  • oral radiologist
  • orthodontist
  • pediatric dentist
  • public health dentist

Source: Job Bank: Dentist in BC

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of dental offices and other agencies within the dental sector in BC and Canada. Contact them directly to see if there are job opportunities.

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “Dentists” and click SEARCH.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume (curriculum vitae) and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following pathfinders:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for dentists in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees are required for membership.

  • BC Dental Association
    This provincial chapter of the Canadian Dental Association is the professional association for dentists in BC, and is responsible for promoting and supporting the interests of its members.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. Examples at the Central Library: