The dental assistant profession is growing faster than most other occupations. Demand is high, and there are lots of dental assistant jobs across the country. People who become dental assistants find consistent and stable employment at a good wage.
If you’re considering a new career, you might wonder how to become a dental assistant. This article will give you all the answers you need. Read on and learn if this is the profession for you.
What is a Dental Assistant?
The first step to becoming a dental assistant is to understand their role. A dental assistant works with a dentist to prepare patients, assist with procedures, and perform office duties like scheduling appointments and filing records.
A dental assistant is an integral part of the dental office. They take blood pressure readings before a dentist performs a procedure, sterilize the dental equipment, and develop x-rays.
Where Do Dental Assistants Work?
Dental assistants work in many different types of offices, and most offices employ more than one. The most common workplace is a private dental practice, but you may also find work in the office of an oral surgeon, orthodontist, or reconstructive dental office.
Some hospitals employ dental assistants, and many dental training schools and facilities need trained dental assistants.
What Is the Average Salary for a Dental Assistant?
Salaries range based on your location and experience, but the average median salary for a dental assistant is around $40,000. Some dental assistants earn $60,000 or more per year.
You can increase your salary by taking on more responsibilities in your office, improving your experience, or getting your Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) certification. DANB-certified professionals earn more and may be eligible for benefits like paid time off and paid holidays.
How to Become a Dental Assistant – Education Requirements
In some states, you can become a dental assistant with only a high-school diploma. Some dental offices will train you on the job. Check with your state’s Board of Dental Examiners to learn the requirements where you live.
Many dentists are looking for candidates who have earned a certificate or diploma from a trade school. This ensures you have the requisite skills and capabilities to perform the work. Candidates who complete a training program may have a better chance of getting the job they want or have an easier transition into a busy dental office.
If you want to give yourself the best chance at getting a great job, consider applying to a training program. The Ultimate Medical Academy Dental Assistant program, for example, provides training in preventative dentistry, radiology, CPR, and other essential skills.
The good part is that you can complete some of this training online—for instance, you can get your CPR certification by completing an online course and being one step closer to becoming a dental assistant. You can be ready to enter a dentist’s office in as little as 12 months.
Find Out if Your State Requires Certification
While some states allow dental offices to train dental assistants in the office, other states require certification or license. You can check each state’s requirements to see what is needed.
If your state requires licensing or certification, you will likely sit for a dental assisting exam. Exam requirements vary by state, but most will require a high school diploma (or equivalent) and graduation from an accredited program. Some states require up-to-date CPR training.
Seeking Your First Dental Assisting Job
Now that you’ve decided this is the career for you, and you’ve completed your education, training, or certification, it’s time to find that first job. Because there is such high demand for dental assistants, many offices post job openings on career websites. Browse the career websites to see if there are jobs available in your area.
You can also look for work through a temporary placement agency. Some “temp agencies” specialize in medical and dental staffing. They usually have a large client base that is looking for new talent.
Some new dental assistants volunteer in an office to gain practical experience. This isn’t always possible for people looking for stable employment, but many offices hire people who started as volunteers. Think of it as an unpaid internship.
Changing Dental Assisting Jobs
Like most careers, your first job is not likely to be your last job. Sometimes there are interpersonal relationships that aren’t a good match for your personality. Other times a dental office may change locations or implement schedules that are good for your lifestyle.
Whatever the reason, there are times when you’ll want to change jobs. The good news about dental assisting is there is a high demand for your skills. Finding a new place to work is possible.
The adage is true – find a new job before you leave your old employment. If you’re not happy with your current position, start looking. Network with other dental assistants or dentists to learn about new opportunities.
A Career Path
Some people who start their career as dental assistants move into other roles over time. If you like working with patients but want to expand your role and responsibilities, you can continue your education and become a dental hygienist. Hygienists earn up to twice as much, depending on your location and experience.
If you want to transition into a role that doesn’t work directly with patients, there are other options, too. Many dental assistants choose to become dental lab technicians or office administrators. There are educational requirements for both, but dental assistants make great candidates for these roles because they have a working knowledge of how a practice functions.
As a dental assistant, you have a great job and an opportunity to expand your options over time.
The Future Looks Bright
Learning how to become a dental assistant is the first step toward a promising job opportunity. The demand for dental assistants is high, and the profession is growing each year. Some states allow you to receive training on the job, but your state may require formal education, training, and certification.
Dental assistants play a vital role in patient care, and it can be a fulfilling job. It’s also a job that allows for growth and advancement as you gain experience. If you’re looking for stable and rewarding work helping others, dental assisting may be right for you.
To learn more about dental assistant careers and training for other medical jobs, please explore the rest of our site.