Dental assistant was ranked #22 in the category of Best Healthcare Support Jobs. There are over 30,100 openings with an average salary of $38,600.
This in-demand career is perfect for those who want to help patients. It also has a range of advancement opportunities.
Read our guide to learn five things you should know about becoming a dental assistant.
1. How Can You Become a Dental Assistant?
The first step is to find a school that offers a dental assistant program. Look online and check social media. Check its accreditation requirements and optional certifications and schedule a tour of the campus.
The program will take around a year. Before you graduate, you’ll need to complete an externship where you’ll work with patients in a dental office. After that, you can start looking for a dental career.
2. What Are Your Duties?
A dental assistant works with patients of all agents and demographics, from children to the elderly. They help the dentist with all aspects of patient care. These include:
- Preparing patients and the work area
- Sterilizing dental instruments
- Handing instruments to the dentist during procedures
- Instructing patients about proper oral hygiene
- Processing X-rays
They can also handle behind-the-scenes tasks that keep the practice running smoothly. These include:
- Keeping records of treatments
- Scheduling appointments
- Working with billing and payments
3. What Skills Do You Need?
Dental assistants need to understand allthe equipment in the office and how to use it. This requires manual dexterity.
Dental assistants need customer service skills because they’re the first face that patients see. 75% of adults fear the dentist and 5-10% have severe dentophobia. You’ll need to clearly and calmly communicate with them and the rest of the team.
Emergencies and long strings of appointments happen often, which means juggling multiple tasks at once. You’ll need to work independently and keep paperwork and tools organized.
4. Where Will You Work?
91% of dental assistants work in a dental practice. A small percentage of others work with the government or at a physician’s office. Most work full-time, but part-time options are also available.
You don’t have to work at the same practice every day. There are also advancement opportunities in the profession where you can go beyond general dentistry and earn a specialization.
5. What Are Your Career Opportunities?
Your possible career pathways as a dental assistant are numerous. You can start there and move on with a bit of experience., networking, and extra schooling.
Passing the DANB Certified Dental Assistant exam lets you work in all fifty states and earn a higher salary. Becoming an EFDA or Expanding Function Dental Assitant allows you to perform more functions chairside.
Being a DLT or Dental Laboratory Technician is perfect for those who would rather work in the lab than the chair. You’ll need to complete a post-secondary certificate program and pass an exam.
A dental hygienist is not the same as a dental assistant. They need to complete a different program through the CODA or Commission on Dental Accreditation that takes two to four years.
A dental assistant program is an easy step to becoming a dentist. If you have at least two years of experience, you can become a dental assistant instructor and teach others.
Where Can You Find a Dental Assistant Program?
Being a dental assistant is a rewarding career where you help patients every day. It’s a useful stepping stone in the healthcare field with plenty of advancement opportunities.
Healthcare Career College offers a quality dental assistant training program. Apply online today!