Becoming a dental assistant can be done in two ways. It can be done through on the job training or through accredited training. Most states require accredited training but some states allow for on the job training. In the article below we will cover what the steps are to become a dental assistant and what the process will entail. Lets not waste anymore time, lets get started!
According to bls.gov the field of dental assisting is growing at 19% which is above the national average. Plus, dental work is a field that does not get smaller due to population growth, so growth is very consistent and sustained.
What does a Dental Assistant do?
Dental assistants are really important to the dental office and to the dentist. There are many tasks that they are responsible for. Below we cover them in detail.
Dental Assisting Job Duties
Dental assistants typically do the following:
Greet and make all patients feel comfortable
Prep all patients for treatments/procedures
Prep work are for procedures/treatments
Sterilize all necessary dental equipment and instruments
Hand instruments to dentists during procedures
Keep mouth of patient dry with suction
Show patients proper oral hygiene
Process any x-rays and lab tasks
Maintain records of dental work
Handle Patient billing and payments
It is common for some dental assistants to be able to do some higher level procedures in some states and with extra certifications. These are procedures like fluoride treatments and sealants.
What is the process to become an Dental Assistant?
In some states it is mandatory to take accredited training before employment as a dental assistant. In other states you can learn on the job to be a dental assistant with on the job training by the dentist. Below we will show you the path with accredited training since the on the job training speaks for itself.
STEP 1 – Have or get your H.S. diploma or GED
You cannot even start down the path without step 1 being completed.
STEP 2 – Take accredited Dental Assistant Training Classes
Most states in the nation do actually require all their dental assistants to complete an accredited program and pass a certification exam. You will find that most programs are offered at local community colleges, but they are also offered at vocational/trade or technical schools. Most dental assistant programs are 1 year in length and culminate with a certificate or diploma. The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), part of the American Dental Association accredited nearly 300 dental assisting training programs in 2017. Click on the link below to search their database of accredited programs.
About Online Dental Assisting classes
Online education is available in the dental assistant field. Be sure to check with your school to see what their availability is for online dental assistant training. Most schools and programs allow general education courses online at the minimum.
Step 3 – Complete the program
Successful completion of your accredited training is critical to advancing to the next step in the process to becoming a dental assistant.
Step 4 – Get your Dental Assisting Certification
At the end of your program there is a certification exam. Passing this test gets you right on the doorstep of success! You are as close as you can be to your goal once you do this!
Similar Careers in Allied Health
Dental Assisting Information by State
About Dental Asst. salary
With tremendous expected growth in the field as a whole, becoming a dental assistant seems smart. But with above average pay it is an even better idea!
What is the average salary for a Dental Assistant?
According to the latest government statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), the median salary is $37,630 per year and $18.09 per hour. Both are above average for allied health positions.
Dental Assistant Salary by State
|Area Name||Employment #||Hourly Avg. Wage||Annual Avg Salary||Employment per 1K jobs|
What is the job outlook for Dental Assistants?
There were 332,000 jobs in 2016 for dental assistants and most of those jobs are in dental offices, As you can see from the table below.
Dentists Office 91%
Government Office 2%
Physicians Office 2%
As we wrote about above, the current job outlook is great at a 19% growth over the next decade!! Becoming a dental assistant is an outstanding choice for a medical field career.