One career field that is experiencing faster than average job growth is dental assistants. This rapid growth is expected to continue to increase as the need for preventative dental work grows in the general population. But what does it take to become a dental assistant? How difficult is it? Many people get turned off exploring a dental assistant career because they think it requires the years of intense schooling that a dentist has to complete. If you are interested in starting a career in dentistry, look no further. We have put together the complete guide for your on how you can become a dental assistant.
How Is Being a Dental Assistant Different from a Dental Hygienist?
People often confuse dental assistants and dental hygienists. Both positions serve as support roles to the dentist, but that is where the similarities end. Some of the main differences include the level of training required, job responsibilities, and salary. Dental hygienists usually have more responsibilities directly related to dental care, while dental assistants do not typically perform any dental work on the patient’s teeth directly.
Requirements Needed to Become a Dental Assistant
Do you have what it takes to become a dental assistant? Are you curious as to how long it would take for you to become a dental assistant? These are important questions to ask before you get started on your journey to becoming a dental assistant.
Unlike a dentist or dental hygienist, some states make it so that you are not required to have a college degree to become a dental assistant. This makes becoming a dental assistant a viable career path for those who never went to college or did not complete their degree. However, no matter where you live, you most likely will need to earn a certification before getting hired as a dental assistant. To become a dental assistant, you typically have to take a state certification test. This is a Registered Dental Assistant certification exam. Attending an established school to help complete your dental assistant certification can help boost your chances of being hired as a dental assistant.
Choosing a Specialty
Before becoming a dental assistant, there are several different specialties you can choose to pursue. These specialties include endodontics, orthodontics, and periodontics. By choosing a specialty, you can earn significantly more money. There are different training levels to specialize in, which could add to the training time before you can become hired.
What Are the Job Responsibilities of a Dental Assistant?
A dental assistant’s daily routine can cover a range of duties and job responsibilities. One of their primary responsibility is to provide patient care. In this case, patient care means prepping the patient to see the dentist or hygienist, setting up appointments, and more. Another major role of a dental assistant includes taking x-rays of a patient’s mouth. If a dental assistant works in a hospital or office where surgery is performed, another of their responsibilities is assisting during surgery. They are responsible for handing the dentist the right equipment and making the process as smooth as possible. Additional responsibilities of a dental assistant can also include filling whitening trays and creating mold impressions of a patient’s teeth.
What Is a Dental Assistant’s Salary?
A dental assistant can earn an excellent salary, again depending on where you live. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a dental assistant as of 2019 is about $40,080. This averages to almost $20 an hour. However, if you specialize in one of the areas of focus mentioned above, you make significantly more. The average orthodontist assistant can make over $80,000.
Where Do You Work As a Dental Assistant?
Dental assistants will usually work in dentists’ offices. There are opportunities to work in hospitals, and depending on where you live, dental assistants can also be hired to help teach in a dental school. Dental assistants are usually full-time positions, working Monday through Friday.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Dental Assistant?
There are so many benefits to becoming a dental assistant. It is a relatively easy career because it does not require a lot of formal schooling or training. The salary also has a good starting point with room to grow. Being a dental assistant offers a fair amount of stability as well. The hours are regular. Many dentist offices are smaller in size, meaning dental assistants can build a long-term working relationship with the practice. Being a dental assistant can also be a fulfilling job. As a dental assistant, you help make the process easier for patients as well as the dentist. It is a good career choice for those who enjoy working with people. Dental assistants are also in high demand. Even if you move somewhere new, it will be easier than not hiring a dental assistant at a new dentist’s office.
Contact Us to Start Your Dental Career Today
Dental assistants play a crucial role in the dentistry field. They have the ability to make a lasting impact on the overall care of a patient. If you are ready to jump into this rapidly growing career, there is no better time to start than right now. Reach out to our dedicated team of career and education specialists. We can help you organize your intro into a career as a dental assistant.