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5 Best Ways to Finance Your NDEB Canada Exams for Internationally Trained Dentists

By Karen Nunez

Even without the current political turmoil, international events causing refugees, and a global pandemic, there is still that desire inside each of us for a brighter, more reliably stable future life.

That is probably why so many people consider Canada an excellent option for moving. The annual immigration in Canada is around 300,000 new immigrants every year - one of the highest rates per population of any country in the world.

The simple truth is that Canada has been and probably will always be viewed as a culture of kind-hearted individuals.

Sure, Canadians have their challenges just like any other country, but the overall quality of life is relatively high. That is why so many internationally trained dentists seek a new career in the land of the maple leaf.

Canada’s dental equivalency process is a significant opportunity for ITDs. The current pay rate is higher than most other countries, and the social benefits far outweigh the challenges of getting across the border.

The only downside is that the costs of making this transition from an internationally trained dentist to a fully certified Canadian dentist are high.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $10K CAD to $15K CAD, and that is just for exam costs and registration fees. There is also the price tag of actual immigration and any schools or prep courses you may take to make it through the NDEB Canada process.

That is why we have decided to put together this little guide.

We want to ensure all ITDs seeking a brighter future as fully certified Canadian dentists get all the help they can get.

Here are our financial suggestions for getting you through the NDEB Canada Exams and into a solid career.

1 - Get a Transitional Job

While you may not be a full dentist in Canada, odds are you have dentistry experience and can use those same skills in a similar capacity by working in a different role.

There are many dentistry-related jobs that are high in demand and pay well enough to support a basic living while saving up or paying for your NDEB exam process.

Dental Assistant

 There are a lot of openings for dental assistants in Canada because the demand for dentists is so high, and they need support staff. The average salary is between $38,000 to $48,000 CAD and is a great stepping stone to being a dental hygienist or researcher.

Essentially, you are the jack-of-all-trades that works closely under the dentist’s supervision.

Of course, every clinic will be different, and some provinces have laws that govern specific roles, but for the most part, you are the “gopher” for the practice.

This is a great opportunity for ITDs who need extra help with language requirements for immigration or downtime to study for their NDEB certification process.

To be a dental assistant in Canada, you will need to be certified through the National Dental Assisting Examining Board, which requires an exam.

You are supposed to have 10 months of education or formal training, but those requirements can be waived based on your previous experience as an ITD, depending on your country of origin.

Dental Assistant Salary per Region

Canadian ProvinceAve. Hourly Salary in CAD
British Columbia
Nova Scotia

Dental Hygienist

This is a popular option for many ITDs immigrating to Canada because many of the skills you use while performing this job are parallel to being a full-time dentist.

You will be working closely with patients, checking for oral cancers, preventing cavities, examining gums, and overall getting more experience with on-the-job reinforcement.

To be a dental hygienist in Canada, you need one of three options:
  • A 2-3 year advanced diploma.
  • A bachelor of dental hygiene.
  • A private college program for dental hygienists.

Your background as an Internationally Trained Dentist with a formal degree and experience may allow you to waive these educational requirements, but again, that requires speaking with a board or school to know if you qualify.

The really good news is the pay bump. The average salary for a dental hygienist in Canada is over $70,000 CAD, which sets you up nicely to afford the immigration process and pay for the NDEB equivalency process.

All the resources you need to become a qualified dental hygienist are available on The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association website.

Dental Hygienist Salary Canada

LocationAverage Wage
$ per hr
British Columbia42.00
Manitoba 40.60

Dental Technician


While this can be an extremely lucrative transitional job for an ITD, it also requires a specific set of skills that may or may not be related to your educational background.

 For example, most dentists have not spent a great deal of focus on repairing the devices used in crowns, bridges, dentures, or orthodontics. A lot of this activity requires the use of specific instrumentation that an ITD may have only a cursory understanding of using.

The good news is almost every province in Canada has a severe dental technician shortage, so finding help to get started in this career is fairly easy.

The average salary is about $53,000 CAD - $96,000 CAD depending on the clinic and province. The work environment tends to be relaxed because you are not dealing with patients directly, but usually fulfilling orders from other dentists.

To work as a dental technician in Canada, you will need to be:

  • A recipient of a dental technician degree or equivalent study from a recognized institution.
  • Provided services equivalent to a dental technician for at least 5 years and can prove your training, experience, and educational background.

Every province will be different, but you can get a solid understanding of the specifics of being a Dental Technician by checking out the British Columbia process here.

Average (Median) Hourly Wages for Dental Technicians in Canada

Average Wage
$ per hr
British Columbia22.00

Dental Office Administrators

We wanted to mention this transitional job for ITDs preparing for the NDEB exam and certification process not because it pays extremely well.

 In fact, it is on the lower end of the spectrum at around $28-$52,000 CAD. Rather, this is a great job to learn the backend office skills necessary to run a full practice.

As a dental office admin, you will get to see the ins and outs of the Canadian healthcare system as well as solidify your understanding of the language and culture. This is excellent training for those ITDs with little to no experience with Canada.

2 - Get a Loan

Many ITDs immigrating to Canada for the NDEB equivalency process seek out private or public funding via loans. We always advise our readers to take a practical approach to this kind of situation. You do not want to be on the line for a large sum of money as you are immigrating without some source of income potential in the near future.

.There are many qualified lenders in Canada that will work the internationally trained dentists. This is because banks and private institutions are fully aware that the demand for dentists is high, and they are extremely likely to earn a small profit by lending to those going through the NDEB Canada exam process.

FCR Loan Programs

Foreign Credential Recognition or FCR programs are backed by provinces and the Canadian federal government. They offer incredibly low-interest rates of price + 1-2% and max out at around $15,000. You pay them back like you would any other normal loan.

To qualify for FCR loan programs, you must be:
  • NDEB registered with the approval
  • PR/Approved Refugee/Canadian Citizenship verified
  • Under a Study, Plan to take your NDEB certification process exam

Government Approved Private Lending

Many private institutions want to get in on the lending opportunities to ITDs. That is why Canada has created a microlending arm backed by their currency rates with interest rates of around prime plus 1-2% and a maximum amount of $15,000. These are good options to grow your credit rating in Canada.

To be eligible for government-approved private lending, you must be:
  • NDEB registered with the approval
  • PR/Approved Refugee/Canadian Citizenship verified
  • Under a Study, Plan to take your NDEB certification process exam

Private Banks ITD Bundle Programs

These bundled programs are designed to essentially fund you through the entire ITD to Canadian certified dentist process. You will get the funding you need if you have:

  • NDEB registration approval
  • Permanent Residency / Canadian Citizenship
  • 650 or above credit score
  • Study plan

That means you will have needed to already have moved through the immigration process to qualify and have a credit history in Canada. You are also going to be on the line for a lot more money and that can get overwhelming quickly.

Windmill Microlending

They are committed to transparent lending practices based on reasonable rates and terms that can enhance your ability to fund the NDEB dentistry exam process.

To date, Windmill Microlending has approved more than 805 loans for newcomers in the field of dentistry. To learn more about Windmill Microlending programs, check out their website.

3 - Start a Side Hustle

It may seem strange for ITDs to check out social media for a business idea, but if you go on TikTok, Pinterest, or Reddit, you will find endless suggestions for starting a side hustle.

This could be anything from being a freelance writer to building a print-on-demand coffee mind business.

There is a lot of risk and reward to be had due to the digital age.

You can make a decent amount as an Uber driver in the right setting or build an Etsy shop with handmade products from your country of origin.

Like anything else in life, the possibilities are endless and require dedication and time to perfect.

Some suggestions for side hustles include:

  • Starting a dropshipping business
  • Wholesaling through Amazon/eBay
  • Freelancing online
  • Building an Etsy shop
  • Print on Demand
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Blogger/YouTuber
  • Selling informational digital precuts
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Social Media Consultant
  • And plenty more programs.

4 - Secure a Job Ahead of Time

There is an often overlooked aspect ITDs rarely try because of fear or anxiety, and that is to reach out to dental practices ahead of time.

Building a solid network of peers within Canada is a great way to ensure you will have some kind of financial opportunity in the future. We highly recommend reaching out to practices, schools, and dentists in the provinces you wish to practice in after you have passed your certification process.

Sometimes they will have jobs you can perform while waiting for your NDEB exam. Always keep your communication polite and professional as these could be your peers in the future.

5 - Find a Job in an Unrelated Field

It may not be the most glamorous, but Canada is hiring for practically every municipal position you can imagine.

 Like most of the world, Canada went through a job loss for a short period due to the pandemic. That created a lot of job openings in government, city, and municipal careers.

Many of these jobs pay well and offer you the opportunity to live in the country while you are working towards your NDEB exam.

Update your CV and cover letter so you can apply to any local organization, government, or business, and you may be surprised with how easy it is to secure a job.

Special Note for 2022 and Beyond

We wanted to point out that the NDEB equivalency process is currently under review. Because Canada is in such need of dentists, they are reevaluating the NDEB by reducing certain test requirements and lifting the restriction on how many times you can attempt the exam.

This story is still unfolding, but it looks like it will be even easier to immigrate to Canada as an ITD. We will keep you posted as new information is released, but we wanted to give you the heads up now.

You will see many prep schools and colleges changing their curriculums to meet these new requirements. This is good news for ITDs everywhere!

Also, Check Out

 ♦   5 Best NDEB Canada Review Centers for Internationally Trained Dentists (ITD)
 ♦   How to Prepare for TOEFL Test in Canada

Wrapping it Up

Canada is a wonderful country to move to, with plenty of opportunities for internationally trained dentists. The potential job market is wide open, and the earning salary range is excellent at an average of $126,750 CAD per year.

We highly recommend you review our site's other information about the immigration process and requirements for your NDEB exam or equivalency process.

Our goal is to help you and all the other ITDs find a new home in the relaxing, naturally bountiful, and friendly culture of Canadian life.


Karen Nunez was born in Valenzuela, Philippines. She received her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Centro Escolar University in Manila.

Karen currently is a practicing oral health care professional based in Alberta, Canada; and runs a Blog where she writes a slew of articles to empower internationally trained dentists to integrate into Canadian dentistry.

Read more of her blogs here.

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