There are plenty of reasons to consider a career as a dental assistant. The job is in high demand, there is a good deal of room for upward mobility, and there is often a high degree of flexibility. Many people work as dental assistants while training to become dentists or dental hygienists. While requirements vary from state to state, becoming a dental assistant usually requires little or no formal training or certification.
According to US News and World Report, a dental assistant in the United States can expect to earn anywhere from $23,550 to $47,580. The median salary for a dental assistant is $34,500.
The projected salary for dental assistants increases very little with experience. According to Salary.com, the estimated salary for someone with less than one year of experience is between $31,500 and $33,700, while the average salary for someone with 10 years of experience is between $33,700 and $35,900.
Dental assistants aid dentists and hygienists in a variety of tasks, often involving a combination of clerical work and patient care. A dental assistant may conduct initial patient interviews and take vital statistics such as pulse and blood pressure, take dental x-rays, assist in procedures, schedule appointments, and more.
People that make good dental assistants will have excellent communication skills, the ability to perform basic scheduling and bookkeeping, and an aptitude for working with their hands.
Becoming a Dental AssistantAnyone with the traits listed above can be a dental assistant. There is a very low bar of entry. While many practices prefer candidates with a high school diploma and some college classes, others will accept applicants with only a GED and a desire to excel.
Many community colleges offer courses and programs for dental assistants. These can be valuable in developing your skills or getting your first job as a dental assistant. There are also certifications, such as the one offered by the Dental Assisting National Board, recognized on a state by state basis that can help demonstrate competency and seriousness to potential employers.