So, you’ve done the hard part and now you’re a qualified oral health therapist – what next?

Here’s some information and links to assist you to take the steps from graduation to registration to employment.

We’d like to take this opportunity to heartily congratulate you, welcome you to the profession and wish you the best of luck in your career as an oral health professional.

Let’s take a look at where you need to go next ……

  • Registration

    • Overview
    • Guidance
  • Being in Practice

    • Handbook for working as an oral health practitioner
    • Professional relationships associated with the practice of Dental Therapy (including the professional agreement between a Dental Therapist and a Dentist)
    • Professional Indemnity Insurance
    • Public Service Association and the MECA
    • Inland Revenue
  • Finding a job

    • Career planning
    • CV’s and cover letters
    • Interview preparation


The first thing to do after you’ve recovered from your final exams is register and apply for an Annual Practicing Certificate (APC). The Dental Council of New Zealand is the regulatory authority for all things dental. You have to register with them before you can practice and, as it’s name suggests, you’ll have to apply every year before 31st March for your APC.

Please note: if you wish to register in both Dental Therapy and Dental Hygiene only one registration fee applies – the one which is higher of the two. The same applies to your Annual Practicing Certificate (you pay only one fee). There’s a reduced fee if you apply after graduation, see the Schedule of Fees.

You can register after graduation until 31 March using this form and apply for your APC.

Here’s a couple of links to information contained on the Dental Council website.

  • This first is a very basic Registration Overview.
  • The second is a more comprehensive look at Registration and Guidance. It includes Codes of Practice, Scopes of Practice, legislation and Dental Council policies and guidelines among other things.

Being in Practice

The Dental Council have produced a Handbook for working as an oral health practitioner full of everything you need to know about being an oral health practitioner, including Codes of Practice, relevant legislation and other conditions of practice. It’s available to purchase from their website or there’s a downloadable PDF version.

And, back to the Dental Council for a document called Professional relationships association with the practice of Dental Therapy – this one includes the Professional Agreement between a Dental Therapist and a Dentist. There’s a downloadable PDF version.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

One thing requiring your consideration is professional indemnity insurance. The Dental Association of New Zealand have an agreement with Dental Protection to provide professional indemnity insurance to oral health practitioners in New Zealand. There’s more information at


If you’re working at a DHB you’ll be employed under the Allied Health, Public Health and Technical Professions MECA.

What’s that? we hear you cry. The MECA is the Multi-employer Collective Agreement which is negotiated by an organiser from the Public Service Association (PSA) on your behalf. The PSA, Te Pukenga Here Tikanga Mahi, is New Zealand’s largest union and represents 58,000 workers in central government, state-owned enterprises, local councils, health boards and community groups. You can find out more about them and become a member here.


And, last but not least, let’s not forget IRD. If you haven’t already got one you’ll have to apply to the Inland Revenue Department for an IRD Number – your personal income identifier.


If you’re planning to work in both Therapy and Hygiene Scopes and have to take on two or more jobs you will have to pay secondary tax. Make sure you’ve got all the information you need for finding out your correct tax code. If you’re planning to work as a contractor instead of an employee don’t forget check out the income level at which you need to register for GST.

You’ll have to find out about KiwiSaver (it’s compulsory unless you opt out) and Student Loan repayments too if they affect you.


Finding a job

Phew, we’ve arrived at the good, though difficult, part.

Career Planning

It’s probably a really good idea, if you haven’t already done so, to sit down and have a think about the career you’re about to embark on. Where are you going? and how are you going to get there? Health Workforce New Zealand provides specific career planning guidelines for those working in the health sector.


As part of your career planning taking a look at the geographic, demographic and statistical information of each of the DHBs in New Zealand might help you to decide where you’d like to work. This map will give you all the information you need.

The job search

Job hunting, cv writing, cv styles, cover letters, interview preparation – Careers New Zealand provides information on all of these.


Here are some of the things you might expect to talk about in an interview –

  • Working as a team – how have you managed this, what are the difficulties, how do you deal with conflict?
  • Understanding of informed consent
  • DCNZ Codes of Practice
  • Health and Disability Code of Rights
  • Requirements for registration and APC
  • Understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi and how it relates to oral health
  • Understanding of the inequalities which exist in New Zealand

The following are links to websites which include Dental Therapy and Dental Hygiene vacancies

NZ Dental & Oral Health Therapists Association

NZ Dental Association

Kiwi Health Jobs (a listing of job vacancies in all 20 DHBs)

LANZ Recruitment (recruitment and placement of health professionals)

Jobseeker (job vacancies posted on sites across New Zealand)

Job Rapido (search job vacancies placed on career sites across the world)

Trade Me (vacancies around New Zealand)

Seek (vacancies around New Zealand)

Henry Schein Schalfoon (vacancies around New Zealand)

Lumino the Dentist (vacancies around New Zealand)