Dentistry Apprenticeships

Get your teeth into our guide on dentistry apprenticeships and find out what all the fuss is about.

Dentistry Apprenticeships

Teeth play a huge role in our everyday lives. They tear, grind, crunch and chew. If we’re not careful, they can become a breeding ground for bacteria too - leaving us with cavities that will eventually need sorting. Uh oh.

Luckily for us, the world is full of dentists. These tooth fairies (as they might as well be known) protect our teeth and teach us how to care for our oral health.

As a dentist, you’ll clean and add fillings. Take measurements for dentures and treat dental injuries like root or enamel fractures. In some cases, you’ll have to perform minor surgeries too, such as tooth extractions - if a wisdom tooth becomes infected.

There are tons of areas to specialise in within dentistry. Whether it’s endodontics, orthodontics, periodontics or prosthodontics, an apprenticeship in dentistry will pave the way for a successful career in the industry. 

Ready for a new and exciting chapter? Get your teeth into our guide on dentistry apprenticeships and find out what all the fuss is about. 

Can I become a dentist through an apprenticeship?

To become a dentist, you’ll need a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS). This is a five-year degree programme for undergraduates at UK universities. While a degree apprenticeship isn’t currently available in dentistry, that’s not to say dentistry apprenticeships won’t be in the future!

If you want a dentistry-related career without going to university, you’ll still be able to do an apprenticeship in the following areas:

  • Dental Nursing

  • Dental Hygiene 

  • Dental Technician

With over 100,000 students applying to study dentistry at UK universities in 2021, a career in this industry is set to be bright.

How do dentistry apprenticeships work?

Dentistry apprenticeships are structured training programmes that allow you to split your time between working for your employer and studying towards nationally recognised qualifications at college. 

Your schedule will depend on your employer. However, you’ll usually spend four days a week at work and one day at a training provider.

Want to know the best part? You’ll get paid too. 

Apprenticeships are a lottery ticket to victory. A passport to riches. Doing one makes you more employable as it shows employers that you have the right skills to carry out your role effectively.

What apprenticeships are there in dentistry?

Dentistry apprenticeships come in levels - not quite as many as you might get in a game of Candy Crush, but a good three. Your apprenticeship level depends on your career journey. 

If you’re just getting started, you’ll do a level 3 apprenticeship in dental nursing. Once you’ve gained experience, you can work your way up to a level 4 apprenticeship in dental hygiene. Or a level 5 apprenticeship and become a dental technician.

Dental nurse apprenticeships 

Dental nurses are superheroes. A bit like Doctor Who sidekicks. Only they work in dental care. And not a tardis. Their job is to support dentists, hygienists and technicians in providing first-class care to patients.

As an apprentice, you’ll meet patients from all walks of life. Some who are coming in for their routine check-ups. Others who’ll be getting treatment for complicated conditions like gum disease. So you’ll need to make them feel at ease.

Your responsibilities include:

  • Decontaminating instruments

  • Updating patient records

  • Ensuring equipment and supplies are available for use as and when needed.

Find out what this student had to say about their dental nurse apprenticeship at the NHS.

"“My day-to-day role includes setting up the surgery each morning, setting up the chair and the instruments for the first patient and cleaning the worktops. I have to assist the dentist by passing instruments, preparing materials and taking notes during appointments. I welcome patients into the surgery and assist in administration on reception.”" Dental Nurse Apprentice, NHS

Find a level 3 apprenticeship in healthcare →

Qualification: Level 3

Duration: 18 - 24 months

Entry Requirements: 

  • Four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent - including English and Maths for T-Levels.

Did you know your apprenticeship can lead you to some incredible places? Like the Apprentice of the Year Awards in Greater Birmingham. 

Imagine that!

Launch your career as a dental nurse. Watch this video to learn what it's like to train at Bupa.

Dental hygiene apprenticeship 

Dental hygienists are the glue that keeps everything together. They work with dentists, advising patients on how to take care of their teeth and gums. 

As a dental hygienist, you’ll work in a range of places like hospitals, youth centres or care homes for the elderly. Not just a dental practice. You might have to wear protective gear too - like a uniform and mask.

On a daily basis, you’ll:

  • Remove plaque

  • Apply sealants to reduce tooth decay

  • Give local anaesthetics to patients under dentist supervision.

Qualification: Level 4

Duration: 14 - 18 months

Entry Requirements: 

  • Four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent - including English and Maths for T-Levels

  • A completed dental nurse apprenticeship.

Dental hygiene apprenticeships open tons of doors. So you can always branch out and work in different areas.

You could join the Royal Navy and provide dental healthcare to the whole crew. You’ll work from the UK  - and from warships in the Caribbean (including the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier). So you’ll get a fully fitted dental surgery on board to practice in. 

How COOL is that?

If you want to stay in the UK, you could educate science students on dental hygienics. Or progress to an orthodontic role at a dental practice.

Best Student Employers

Finding the right employer can be challenging. With all hundreds of amazing companies to choose from, where do you start? With our Best Student Employers table of course! 

Here you’ll find the best of the best companies in the apprenticeship world. And best yet? The table is based on thousands of honest reviews written by apprentices just like you.

So if you want to work for a business with brilliant diversity and inclusion initiatives. Or great opportunities for career progression, don’t miss out.

Want to find out more about what it’s really like to do an apprenticeship in healthcare? Have a read of over 40,000 student-written reviews.

Browse healthcare apprenticeship reviews

Dental technician apprenticeship 

Dental technicians work in the labs, designing and manufacturing dental appliances for patients. You’ll work under the guidance of a dentist, making crowns, braces, retainers, head gears and dentures.

Your responsibilities include:

  • Constructing models of a patient's teeth and mouth based on x-rays taken by the dentist

  • Creating porcelain veneers using ceramo-metal techniques

  • Fabricating maxillofacial prostheses to replace damaged facial tissue.

Qualification: Level 5

Duration: 3 years

Entry Requirements: 

  • Five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) -  including English, Maths and Science

  • Three A-Levels at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) - including english, Maths and Science

  • Previous experience will be considered too, for example -  level 3 qualifications.

Each employer will have their own entry requirements. So make sure you read the job description carefully before applying to avoid any mishaps.

Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship, you’ll need to register with the General Dental Council. This is the UK’s statutory regulator for dental teams. And proves you are fully qualified to work as a dental professional.

Looking for an apprenticeship as a dental technician? The Woolwich College in London currently offers one. Which you can do in 2 years!

As does the NHS.

The NHS is one of the largest employers in the world. With hundreds of careers to choose from, join a team of almost 2 million employees and find your DREAM role in healthcare.

Read our guide to NHS Apprenticeships.

How much do dentistry apprenticeships pay?

Getting to earn while you learn is top notch. Luckily, dentistry apprenticeships make this possible. But how much exactly? How much do apprentices in dentistry earn?

As an apprentice, you’ll get paid for:

  • Your normal working hours

  • Any training that’s part of your apprenticeship

  • Extra courses you might take during your programme, such as Maths and English.

Your salary depends on your apprenticeship level. So the more experience you gain, the more you’ll earn. As a rule of thumb, all apprentices receive the National Minimum Wage. But some employers will pay you more. 


Dental nurse

Dental nurse apprenticeships are entry level roles for school leavers joining the industry. So your salary will naturally reflect this. You’ll start your career on around £22,714 a year and move up to £29k once you’re fully qualified.

Dental hygiene 

Dental hygiene apprenticeships are the next step up from dental nursing. These require more developed skills. So you’ll take home a bigger paycheck as a result - £24,000 a year as a starter and £37k once experienced.

Dental technician 

Dental technician apprenticeships are the crown that sits on top of the throne. The king of all kings. Salaries for this role begin at £27,000, and increase to £40kwith experience.

Working in dentistry isn’t just a job. It’s a career and a rewarding one at that. You can improve people’s lives, ease their struggles, and top up your bank balance while you’re at it.

So - what do you think? Ready to make a difference? 

GO for it!

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