There are three schools in the state of Mississippi that offer accredited dental care assistant programs. All are community colleges, established to serve their respective communities with two-year educational programs. They are Pearl River Community College in Hattiesburg; Hinds Community College in Jackson; and Meridian Community College, which is named after the city where it is located. Accreditation of their programs come from the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Hinds Community College in particular offers its program through its Forrest County Center.
Dental Assistant Schools in MississippiEach of the schools previously mentioned provides a certificate program in dental assisting. Hinds also has an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Dental Assisting for people who want a more advanced level of training. Instead of the one year that it takes to complete the certificate program, the A.A.S. degree requires two years. Core courses cover subject areas such as oral anatomy; pharmacology and medical emergencies; dental radiography; dental office management; coronal polishing; and sealant, fluoride, and topical anesthetics application. The A.A.S. degree is buttressed by general educational requirements that are meant to sharpen the skills of the aspiring dental care assistant even further. The courses include English composition, public speaking, mathematics, microcomputer applications, and humanities or fine arts electives. After graduation, students are eligible to sit for the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam, thus increasing their chances for employment in dental offices or clinics.
SALARIES FOR DENTAL ASSISTANTS IN MISSISSIPPIThe U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2012 that dental care assistants in Mississippi make an annual mean wage of $29,710, which is translated into $14.28 per hour. It is slightly above that of states like South Dakota, but is far less than the national mean wage for the field — at $35,080 ($16.86 per hour). However, dental care assistants at Jackson tend to make more than the state average, with a yearly mean wage of $32,470. About 2,690 dental assistants live in Mississippi. The BLS expects that number to increase by 18 percent between 2010 and 2020.
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