If you’re trying to decide about the future of your education or are looking for a change in career path, you might want to consider becoming a dental assistant. The good news about this profession is that you can get a job without a degree from a four year institution. The requirements vary from state to state, and in some cases a dentist may hire you without any sort of degree or certification, in which case you will instead receive on the job training. At the most, you will need to attend a trade school and receive accreditation through a one or two year program. Both are available at many community colleges. At the end of a one year program you will receive a certificate, and at the end of two year programs you will receive an associate’s degree. In some states you may also be required to pass a state exam that will test you on areas in which you must be knowledgeable as a dental assistant, such as how to care for the teeth, gums, and jaws.
There are a number of benefits you may want to consider as you decide if dental assistant school is right for you. These include:
- As of 2011 there were 285 dental assistant training programs in the United States. That means you’ll have a lot of options when it comes to your education!
- Dental assistant on average make over $33,000 a year. This is nearly $10,000 more than the average for all healthcare support professions. It is also on par with the average income across all professions, which means that you can earn good money after going to school for less time than people who go the traditional route.
- Depending on where you work, your schedule will be flexible. Not all dental assistants work 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Nearly 40% work part time, and some work later in the day or on Saturdays and Sundays.
- In the period from 2010 to 2020, this profession is expected to see 31% growth. This is significantly faster than the 14% projected as an average across all occupations. This means that you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job and can also expect to have adequate career security!
- You will get to experience both the healthcare and administrative sides of the dental office, Sometimes you might work behind a desk, while in other situations you might be helping a patient prepare to see the dentist or assisting during examinations.
What Dental Assistants Do
In conventional dental assisting jobs, you can expect to work in a dentists’ office, where the dentist or another dental assistant will be your boss. Typical duties of dental assistants include taking x-rays, sterilizing instruments, handing the instruments to the dentist during an examination or surgery, writing down information in, and keeping track of, patients’ dental records, taking patient histories and vital signs, scheduling appointments, and helping with billing and payments.