Cavity Training Diploma versus Apprenticeship course in Dental Nursing

14th Nov 2022
Graduation vs online course picture

The growing demand in dental nurses has led an increasing number of courses to appear on the market.  This is very exciting because it means that dental nurses are supported now better than ever. If you’re interested in becoming a dental nurse and have researched the process online, you might have noticed that it can be quite a bit to take on. We are hoping that this article will help you sieve through the information much easier.

What are the different types of courses?

There are three types of dental nursing courses: Apprenticeships, Diploma in dental nursing and the NEBDN Course. All three will enable you to register with the General Dental Council (GDC) upon successful completion of the course. Here are the differences between our course and apprenticeships.

Entry requirements

Diploma with Cavity Training Apprenticeship
No formal entry requirements GCSE Grade 4/C in Maths and English or completion of Level 2 Functional Skills
16 years or older 16 years or older
Employed as a trainee dental nurse Employed as a trainee dental nurse
Hepatitis B vaccinations Hepatitis B vaccinations
Disclosure barring service checks Disclosure barring service checks

In order to enrol on either if the courses you need to meet the entry requirements. Whilst both require you to be 16 years or older and work in a dental practice as a trainee dental nurse, there are differences in the school grades they require. The Diploma does not ask for formal entry requirements, but suitability of the candidate will be checked. A GCSE at grade 4/C is required for the apprenticeship courses otherwise you may need further Functional Skills English and Math’s. As you’ll be working with vulnerable populations you will need a Disclosure barring service (DBS) check performed. You will also need to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B to work as a trainee dental nurse.

Course duration

Diploma with Cavity Training Apprenticeship
18-24 months 18-24 months

The length of courses tends to be similar and during this time you’ll gain the knowledge and skills necessary to become a qualified dental nurse.


Diploma with Cavity Training Apprenticeship
2 hours live webinar with a subject specialist tutor (Wednesday evenings) 1 full day/per week at college or weekly live webinars
Interactive learning (presentations videos/quizzes, videos) 20% off work for study time
Better support – Regular Assessor Visits and weekly Assessor / Tutor contact Assessor contact
2-6 hours/week for studying/assignments
Exclusive Health and wellbeing support offered to all Cavity students
Exclusive E-library with course resources

Although both involve teaching and self-directed studying both courses have different features. The Cavity training diploma delivers its content via weekly live webinars usually in the evenings, which means that valuable surgery time is not lost, and that students can study from the comfort of their own home. The apprenticeship course will require attendance at college or live webinars every week during the day. Students on the apprenticeship course must be allocated 6 hours each week for off-the-job studying as part of a government requirement. Both courses will require commitment to additional hours of learning at home to complete assignments and study content delivered. The Diploma course offers the flexibility to study from home on your own. This might be useful for those having various personal commitments and need to save all the time that they can.

In contrast the apprenticeship course might be useful for students that prefer a designated day learning to keep them engaged. In either course a tutor will be assigned to you to answer questions and guide you. The diploma offers better support through the digital platforms whilst apprentices might have less assessor contacts. As well as that the Cavity training course offer a health and wellbeing platform which is on hand to support you along the way. It will supplement your study with tips and help to achieve and healthy study/work-life balance. This is in addition to exclusive access to the Cavity e-library which has only the best resources to support you to complete your qualification.


Diploma with Cavity Training Apprenticeship
(1) Weekly assignments (1) Weekly assignments
(2) observation assignments (in practice visits) (2) observation assignments (in practice visits)
(1) +(2) builds mandatory portfolio (1) + (2) builds mandatory portfolio
No interview
EPA : An assessment taken at the end of the course. This includes a multiple choice exam, an EPA Portfolio of evidence, an observation with an Independent End Point Assessor and an Interview with an Independent End Point Assessor.
One multi-choice exam paper

For both courses, you’ll complete weekly assignments on various topics of the dental nursing course curriculum. These could be anything from infection control to fillings or extractions for example. Its purpose is to allow you to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfil your job responsibilities. On both courses you will have an assessor to support you. Additionally, you can ask questions and get opinions from other colleagues on your course. In some weeks a workplace assessor will come in and observe how you carry it out a task. This can be daunting to many of us, but he/she is not there to catch you out only to observe if you know how to carry out your job safely. Other methods of assessment including professional discussion and simulation. These are included in the Cavity training course and can be used to tailor assessment to the learner’s needs.

Together the assignments and observations will represent your mandatory portfolio of evidence. Once the portfolio of evidence is completed, you’ll be able to sit the final exam.

Cost of course and salary

Diploma with Cavity Training Apprenticeship
Cavity Diploma £2500 Government funded scheme
Higher starting salary (trainee aimed). Minimum wage salary starting rate (age dependent) Lower starting salary (trainee aimed). Minimum apprenticeship wage
Paid holidays Paid holidays

The diploma cost can be paid in full or in instalments which helps to spread the costs. The apprenticeship courses are government funded schemes that help employers to employ trainee within the dental practice without having to pay the costs of the course. Apprenticeships encourage trainees to think about the job as a career and thus stay in the company for longer. This offers opportunity to train to the standards and practices of the workplace.

Trainees on the diploma course have the benefit of starting at a higher rate (minimum wage salary). Whereas an apprentice could be paid at just the apprentice rate. By being employed both trainees benefit from paid holidays.

When can you join?

Diploma with Cavity Training Apprenticeship
Regular intakes a year 2,3 times a year depending on provider
Cavity training courses have monthly intakes and there is not limit on student intakes

The diploma courses tend to have more start dates throughout the year. The Cavity training course offers has new intakes every First Wednesday of the month. Apprenticeship schemes generally only offer 2,3 intakes per year.

Dental nursing is an amazing career which fosters body knowledge and clinical skills to help patients in their dental health journeys. There are numerous career progressions including Oral Health Education, Dental Radiography, Orthodontic therapist, treatment coordinator to name a few. Whichever option you decide to take we wish you the very best of luck in your journey and we hope to see you aboard!