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
Schedule appointments
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.

Accredited Dental Assistant Schools

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 NameEmployment #Hourly Avg. WageAnnual Avg SalaryEmployment per 1K jobs
Alabama327016.10334901.703
Alaska130022.07459004.086
Arizona703019.03395802.600
Arkansas275016.28338602.288
California5010019.20399303.001
Colorado708018.59386602.771
Connecticut403021.06438002.437
Delaware81019.76410901.828
Florida1904018.23379202.262
Georgia990017.78369802.301
Hawaii159017.93372902.504
Idaho221016.64346203.216
Illinois1271018.76390302.143
Indiana615018.78390702.036
Iowa296019.18399001.931
Kansas286017.12356102.088
Kentucky432016.78349002.300
Louisiana431014.26296602.266
Maine119019.71409901.987
Maryland587020.10418202.203
Massachusetts838021.52447702.376
Michigan955017.54364802.234
Minnesota563023.45487701.984
Mississippi224016.04333602.004
Missouri553017.74369001.983
Montana134017.81370502.903
Nebraska213016.98353102.198
Nevada265017.62366502.024
New Hampshire131022.68471702.016
New Jersey1077020.40424402.688
New Mexico274016.77348803.422
New York2037017.87371702.212
North Carolina896019.77411302.085
North Dakota73021.93456001.741
Ohio1067018.44383601.986
Oklahoma393016.91351802.495
Oregon548020.42424702.991
Pennsylvania1093018.21378701.890
Rhode Island86019.95414901.798
South Carolina440018.32381102.188
South Dakota93018.46384102.219
Tennessee580017.35360901.990
Texas2979017.27359202.505
Utah522014.55302703.703
Vermont39021.10439001.270
Virginia4016.83350101.096
Washington802020.60428502.116
West Virginia1058020.45425403.320
Wisconsin123014.36298601.782
Wyoming586018.49384502.076
Wyoming(5600000)64016.48342802.386

Source: www.bls.gov

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.