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The Complete Guide to a Career as a Dental Assistant

A dental assistant has many duties that they are responsible for performing in the dentist’s office. Their responsibilities include everything from caring for patients to taking care of daily office duties. They sometimes even work in the laboratory assisting the dentist. Most people confuse them with a dental hygienist however they are two completely different jobs. Dental hygienists are licensed and able to perform many procedures independently while assistants must work with patients only under the close supervision of the dentist.

Most of the duties of a dental professional can be learned through on the job training, however in some instances there are training programs available at community colleges or trade schools. Specific requirements and licensing varies from state to state. Anyone interested in pursuing this career would benefit from taking courses in areas of science including biology, chemistry, and health. High school students can even work through co-op programs to start gaining training and experience as a dental assistant.

One interesting aspect of a career as a dental professional is that the daily duties are always changing. While some days you may spend most of the time updating patient records and booking appointments, the very next day you could spend all of your time working directly in the exam room. While dentists are performing procedures dental assistants work alongside them assisting in sterilizing and prepping equipment, handing them needed instruments, and instructing patients on proper oral healthcare practices.

A dental assistant can work directly with patients helping them feel more at ease in the sometimes scary dentist’s chair. This is especially important for children who may be visiting the dentist for the very first time! Dental assistants can help reassure these apprehensive patients and reward them for being so brave with small toy of sticker.

As a dental professional there can be opportunities to advance your career. This is a great entry level career that provides basic experience and training for advancement into a career as a dental hygienist, office manager, or sales representative. Most of these career advancements will require additional schooling and certification but will result in a nice pay raise.

The salary of a dental assistant on average ranges from $25,000-$35,000 depending on where you live and how many hours you put in weekly. Many dental professionals are able to work flexible hours or even work part-time. This can be very helpful for working moms and those attending school. Dental assistants have a fairly easy time finding jobs and the number of available jobs is expected to increase in the coming years. This is extremely important in today’s bleak economy and oversaturated job market!

A career as a dental professional can be very exciting. There is not a lot of schooling or training needed which means you can start earning money soon after high school. The hours are usually quite flexible which can allow opportunities for career advancement or time at home with a family. Anyone interested in pursuing this career should check out the specific standards for their state so that they can begin taking the proper steps towards finding employment.

The salary for a dental assistant varies from state to state. Find out what dental assistants in the U.S. get paid from: