Choosing a career can often be based on the time and financial investment necessary to achieve a desirable employment situation. When considering time and expense, a career as a registered dental assistant may be one of the most cost-effective paths to a professional career, especially when considering the return ratio. In addition, registered dental assistants can expect a salary that is at least commensurate with their skill. While being a dental assistant requires no qualifications to start, becoming a registered dental assistant will require some formal training.
EducationUnregistered dental assistant job applicants can still be hired by a dental facility, but the applicants with a solid basic education in biology and health will stand out among other applicants. Work-related experience can provide a real advantage when pursuing a formal degree or certification. Many dental schools offer a one-year certification program, as well as offering a two-year associate degree. Certifications are normally included as part of the associate. Completing the associate degree can also be the first step in continuing education to a higher professional status. Pay scales also increase as the professional achievements increase, so there is clear opportunity to improve earnings with each accomplishment.
Regional Pay RangesAs with any employment field in the United States, dental assistants tend to earn more salary in metropolitan areas. An unregistered dental assistant can earn close to the amount of a registered dental assistant in some areas, but registered dental assistants fare much better in urban areas. The national average for a standard dental assistant is approximately $21K per year. As dental assistants are paid hourly, this translates into $11-12 per hour for a standard 40-hr work week. Registered dental assistants in smaller communities average just over $23K annually. Using the California registered dental assistant pay scale for comparison, the annually earnings average is $35K, which calculates into a very significant 50% earnings potential increase.
Increased Pay with Increased EducationThere are other certified training accomplishments that work well as additional verified job skills, including dental office management and RN positions for those applicants with a dental assistant certification. Again using California as a reference, first assistant registered nurses average earning around $70K annually. This translates to double the average pay scale of a typical registered dental assistant.
It is clear that a career as a dental assistant can be reachable in a short-time format with reasonable educational investment while working your way through the process as a beginning assistant. Having a comprehensive plan for achieving that professional goal beforehand can also be a big plus when finding that first position.