Download PDF


Working as a Dentist [NOC 3113]

Job Description

Working as a Dentist you will perform 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
  • Supervise dental hygienists, dental assistants, and other staff
  • Dentists may specialize

Source: NOC, 3113

Industry Overview

Employment prospects for dentists are good with a significant number of new openings through to 2022. There are currently not enough new graduates to meet employment demand. In particular, there is currently a shortage of dentists in rural areas of the province of BC.

Population growth, an ageing population, and technological advancement in diagnosis and treatment, are increasing the demand for dental services

Source: WorkBC Career Exploration

Job Outlook in BC


job outlook for dentists

Chart from WorkBC

BC’s Regional Employment Projections, 2010-2015, provides job openings projections for Dentists within BC regions:

Region 2010 Estimated Employment 2015 Estimated Employment Avg Annual % Change, 5 Years, 2010 to 2015
Vancouver Island / Coast 500 570 2.5%
Lower Mainland / Southwest 2,560 2,840 2.2%
Thompson-Okanagan 250 280 2.3%
Kootenay 70 80 3.2%
Cariboo 70 90 3.9%
North Coast & Nechako 40 50 3.2%
Northeast 30 30 4.1%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats. Projections for development regions. [accessed October 2014]

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 provincial average salary for BC dentists is between $95,000 and $125,000.

Dentists are paid directly by patients or by patient insurance companies. A dentist with an established practice can generate a great deal of money, but half or more of that money could go to pay for equipment, insurance, staff salaries, and other overhead costs such as office space. After these costs are taken into account, a dentist in general practice can earn anywhere from about $60,000 to upwards of $200,000 a year.

The highest wages are generally earned by specialists, such as orthodontists and periodontists. At busy practices in large urban areas, these specialized dentists can make more than $300,000 a year.

Salaried dentists usually receive benefits, such as health insurance, paid sick days, and retirement benefits. Self-employed dentists must provide their own benefits.

Sources: WorkBC & Career Cruising

Job Bank Canada provides hourly wages for Dentists in BC regions:

Location Low ($/yr) Median ($/yr) High ($/yr)
British Columbia 24,155 84,991 179,832
Lower Mainland – Southwest Region 24,192 75,250 164,664
Vancouver Island and Coast Region 20,786 100,221 180,111

Source: Job Bank Canada

Working Hours

Most dentists work 7 or 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Less experienced dentists who are trying to build up their practices often work longer hours.

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.

Source: Career Cruising database

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: WorkBC & 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
  • Licensing by a provincial or territorial regulatory body
  • Advanced training for specialized practice
  • Licensing for specializations.

A degree in dentistry is required. A Doctor of Dental Medicine degree is most common; however, a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree or Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree is sufficient to work in this occupation.

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 beyond a dental medicine degree or dental surgery degree is required in order to become a dental specialist.

Continuing education and professional development are required throughout your career.


This occupation is regulated in BC

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 evidence that you are engaged in continuing education on a regular basis.

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

Internationally educated dentists:

Regardless of education, licensure, or experience, you must be registered and licensed with the College of Dental Surgeons of BC to practice.

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

Online Job Postings

  • Fraser Health Authority
    Fraser Health operates 12 acute care hospitals and offers community programs in communities stretching from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope.
  • Indeed
    Find jobs posted on a multitude of company career sites and job boards.
  • Vancouver Coastal Health Authority
    Operates hospitals and community-based residential, home health, mental health, and public health service in the coastal mountain communities of Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, and Richmond.

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: NOC, 3113

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.

  • Canadian Dental Directory
    Includes dental offices by specialization, dental labs, universities, and other services in the dental sector.
    Available at the Central Library, 617.60025 C21
  • Directory of Dentists
    Contact information for dentists and specialists in British Columbia.
    Also available at the Central Library, 617.606 C69d
  • 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” or “dental” and click LOOKUP.
    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 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 and online: