If you have an interest in healthcare, enjoy helping people, and are organized and detail-oriented, then a career in dental assisting could be for you! Dental assistants work with dentists and dental hygienists to prepare patients for consultations and procedures, take x-rays, and carry out administrative tasks. People who work as dental assistants get satisfaction from their job by assisting others and comforting patients. Dental assistants often have strong interpersonal and communication skills, which helps them better attend to patient needs. They also are organized and are able to perform administrative tasks with ease. Furthermore, those with good manual dexterity who are also reliable and responsible are more likely to succeed in this career path.
One of the perks of becoming a dental assistant is that interested candidates can become certified and graduate with a degree in much less time than students who choose to attend traditional 4-year universities. There are a variety of options available, and where you will need to go will depend both on your state’s requirements and what schools near you are offering.
Two Year Associate’s Degree
People who choose to pursue a longer degree course will end their studies with an associates of applied science, often in dental science or health science. These programs covered all the areas in which dental assistants will need to be knowledgeable and offer thorough and comprehensive coverage of material. These extensive training programs cover areas such as the dental sciences, dental materials, radiography, preventive dentistry, and infection control. Courses are also offered in areas of administrative skill, such as database management, customer service, and communication. Many of these degree programs also allow students to get hands-on experience and participate in short externships. The exact length of the program will vary depending on how many classes you take at once and whether you go all year long or take the summer off. Generally, you can earn your degree in 18 months to two years. You often have the benefit of flexible scheduling and the opportunity to choose between day or evening classes.
One Year Certificate Programs
Some people may wish to get started on their career in dental assisting in a shorter period of time. If you have the flexibility to go to school full time and your state does not require that you have an associate’s degree, you have the option of completing a shorter certificate program often lasting around one year. These programs instruct students in all the needed aspects of dental assisting but do not offer as many general classes. Instead, they focus on more technical training. By completing such a program, you will be qualified for all the credentials and licenses you need to succeed in this career. You will also be prepared to pass a state exam if necessary. Sometimes this option is preferable for people who have been in school before and have taken general classes, and are returning to their education in order to make a career change.
Shorter, Accelerated Programs
These programs are sometimes as short as nine weeks and train students in all the major aspects of the profession. You will learn all the essential skills and responsibilities you need to succeed as a dental assistant. Upon graduation people will receive a certificate and have the knowledge to obtain certifications in other areas, such as radiology or CPR. These programs are sometimes more affordable than longer education tracks because of their brevity. They often, however, require students to have the flexibility to attend school full time.