Frequently Asked Questions


Once you have met the required prerequisites and have submit an application form, you are either admitted or placed on the waiting list, usually for the following year. Please check the Vancouver Island University, dental assistant calendar page for prerequisites.

Applications are processed on a first-qualified, first-served basis. If you are currently working on a prerequisite and know the expected completion date, please contact the program Chair to discuss your options.

Your name will be kept on the waitlist governed by your date of application.

Registration will inform you of your acceptance. They try to give you as much notice as possible, but sometimes, for various reasons, students decide at the last minute not to attend. If this should happen, you may get a phone call at the last minute.

General Questions

A Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) works very closely with the dentist providing directed clinical care and promoting oral health with a holistic approach. He/she provides technological and administrative support to the dental team as a whole. The CDA can assist the dentist at chair side, applying rubber dams, preparing and manipulating dental materials, performing infection control procedures and instructing patients in oral health care. The CDA may also expose, process and mount X-rays, polish teeth, apply topical fluoride and topical anesthetic, take impressions of teeth and apply fissure sealants, among other duties.

The CDA holds one of the most diverse and interesting positions in a dental office. This position requires both versatility and responsibility.

Costs range from $2000 to $2500 for books, supplies, uniforms, lab coats, shoes, and miscellaneous necessities. Fees are subject to change without notice.

There are three practicum placements over the course of the 10 months. These may involve travel outside of the greater Nanaimo area, therefore causing an added expense. Other expenses around graduation may also be incurred. Students are required to pay a student membership fee to the regulatory body in the province where they will work in order to gain access to the association website. Once program requirements have been met, students are eligible to write a National Board exam (NDAEB) and register with the British Columbia College of Oral Health Professionals (BCCOHP). There are fees for both of these activities which must be incurred in order to practice as a Certified Dental Assistant in BC.

Yes. You can apply for the government student loan and grant program. You may also qualify for institutional scholarships and bursaries. As well, you could contact Human Resources Development Canada and the Employment Centre office regarding sponsorship. Check with the Financial Aid & Awards office, located in Building 200 at the Nanaimo campus, or call 250.740.6423.

In order to practice as a Certified Dental Assistant in BC, the graduate must successfully complete the National Dental Assistants Examining Board exam. Prior to employment, a one-time registration fee and an annual license fee must be paid to the British Columbia College of Oral Health Professionals (BCCOHP).

It is not possible to ladder into any other programs from this one. However, students may choose to further their careers with post-graduate courses, e.g., the Prosthodontic or Orthodontic Module.

Program Format

Students attend school Monday to Thursday, with variable hours. There is a one-hour lunch break daily. Some weekend sessions may be scheduled, but students are given prior notice of these.

This full-time program requires that the student be in class for 28 hours per week; however, this may vary during practicum weeks

Of the 41-week program, five and a half weeks are practicum weeks. These are broken into half-week, two-week, and three-week sessions. The student may be required to travel outside of the Nanaimo area for each of the practice experiences and will be expected to work the posted hours of the office he/she is placed in.

Employment Outcomes

Certified Dental Assistants can find employment in a number of venues. Most practice in a general practice dental office, but others find employment in specialized dental offices, community and/or institutional health facilities, hospital dental clinics and educational institutions.

No. When you graduate from this program and, after attaining registration and licensure from the British Columbia College of Oral Health Professionals (BCCOHP), you are fully-qualified to enter the job market.

Wages of Certified Dental Assistants can vary depending on the area of the province you choose to practice in. The average wage for newly graduated CDA's range from $17 - $22 per hour.

Career opportunities in Nanaimo alone may be somewhat limited; however, if you are prepared to relocate, your chances will be enhanced.

Ninety to 95% of our students complete the program and 85-95% find full-time employment. Approximately 5-15% of our students find part-time employment, often by choice.