Are you thinking about going into the dental industry? It seems like more and more people are interested in the career of a dental assistant.
You get to help people and make good money without a lot of schooling. This is great because you don’t have to spend years in school and accumulate student loan debt.
We’ll break down everything you need to know about becoming a dental assistant.
What is a Dental Assistant?
A dental assistant can be considered the backbone of any successful dental practice. They may share different responsibilities depending on the office that they work at.
The core of their work is patient care. They prepare patients for examinations and procedures or they work with a dentist to examine and treat patients.
They also help run the office itself. They do a lot of administrative duties like scheduling and confirming appointments, greeting patients, updating patients’ records, and ordering dental supplies and materials.
They can work in private dental offices, group practices, hospitals, insurance companies, dental suppliers, dental manufacturing companies, armed services, educational institutions, and public health facilities.
What Does It Take to Be One?
You will have to take a post-high school program to become a dental assistant. You find these programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes, universities, or dental schools. You will usually get a certificate. The program takes 9 to 11 months to complete.
Some programs even offer accelerated training, part-time education programs, or training via distance education.
Some employers will want people who have certifications from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). These certifications include Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA), Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA), and Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA).
The certifications are built from component exams. Dental assistants are often required to take one, some, or all these component exams.
Some assistants pass state-specific exams to perform certain duties or to work as a dental assistant. There are 38 states that recognize or require DANB national exams.
Beyond the requirements, people who have earned DANB credentials are able to get higher salaries and more job opportunities.
CDAs also enjoyed more benefits.
Courses That You Will Take in These Programs
If you are thinking about going into a dental assistance program, these are the courses that you will take. If you really like these subjects, then that is a positive sign that this could be the career for you.
What are a Dental Assistant’s Tasks?
As mentioned before, there are a lot of tasks that a dental assistant has to do daily. Here is a list of things they have to do.
Why a Private Practice?
A private practice is an independently owned practice, instead of one being owned by a corporation. Most of the time, dental assistants will work with the owner of the practice who is usually a dentist, though this is not always the case.
Private practices usually come with more freedom to move around and work. Because you know who your boss is, you can talk to them about any potential changes that need to be made. Depending on the practice, it could have a more casual atmosphere as well.
You also get to be more personal with your patients because you don’t need to churn them out like with corporate practices. In fact, the closer you are to patients, the more likely that they will keep coming back and refer you to their loved ones.
It will also be a friendlier, trusting atmosphere. Because you all work closely together, you and your colleagues can be there for each other during tough times. If you need extra time off for an aging parent, for example, you will more likely get your request approved at private practices.
This isn’t to say that a corporate office wouldn’t do this, but it could be harder to get that time. It may feel more awkward to ask.
Corporate dentistry does have an advantage when it comes to benefits. Because they are so large, they are able to give good benefits compared to someone who owns their own business.
This is not to say that private practices can’t offer good benefits, it just may be harder to find.
Average Dental Assistant Salary
The average dental assistant salary is around $36,341 a year. The range can be anywhere between $32,161 to $40,069. At a minimum, a dental assistant would make $18 an hour.
This salary can change depending on your education, experience, and location.
Top 10 States with the Highest-Paying Dental Assistant Salary
If you are thinking about moving to a new place while entering a new career, you should look into these states to get the most money for your work.
- 3North Dakota—$43,661
- 4North Carolina—$43,194
Dental Assistant Job Benefits
There are a variety of benefits that come with the job. One of the many benefits is that you will never be bored. Every day is different and you will have a variety of tasks that you will have to do at the same time.
You have the option of a flexible schedule. This job is in high demand so you can choose between part-time or full-time. Either one would give you a good dental assistant salary because of how high the demand for this job is.
You also get to meet new people and are able to grow closer to your patients. You can develop a relationship with them. This can make the work you do feel less monotonous, even though you do the same kind of work every day.
There are more helpful benefits like
It might hard to ask about these things, but you should definitely ask potential employers about what benefits they offer. Make sure you feel comfortable with the potential dental assistant salary and benefits that you will get before saying yes.
Sink Your Teeth into This Job
Being a dental assistant is a great job for those who are looking for a job that doesn’t require a lot of schooling to be qualified. You can become a dental assistant within a year and then start the job hunt.
It’s a high-demand job that is probably only to grow more as the years go on. Dental health is important and is recession-proof. People always need help to keep their teeth and mouths healthy.
This will give you a sense of security. Even if the private practice that you worked at went out of the business, you would be able to get another job fairly quickly and easily.
If you like people, are organized, and don’t mind sticking your fingers’ in someone else’s mouth, then this could be the job for you. Being a dental assistant in a private practice lets you be able to comfortably work and get to know your patients.
You have more freedom and feel more important than you would in a corporate dentist office. You are not a number in a private practice, you are a person.
This is a career that you can make a living of, as a dental assistant salary is good and increasing each year. Plus, you get any of the benefits that come with the job.
If this sounds like a good fit for you, then you should jump into this career. You can have a lot of fun with this job and you’ll never be bored.