Spotlight on: Dental assisting

Dental assisting is an exciting and expanding career field.

Dental assisting is an exciting and expanding career field.

If you have an interest in dentistry but don’t have the time or inclination to complete the eight years of schooling required, you may want to consider joining the growing career field of dental assisting. Dental assistants are an integral component of any dental office, and are responsible for making sure that everything runs smoothly.

What do dental assistants do?

Dental assistants have a variety of responsibilities, many of which involve some degree of technical expertise. They generally work in dental offices and fulfill administrative duties, take x-rays, pour dental impressions and communicate with patients to help them feel at ease. The duties of a dental assistant vary by office, but in general the job requires the ability to think critically and assist with dental procedures.

What training do I need?

Although technically there are no formal training requirements for this career, you will be more likely to find employment if you complete a dental assisting program. This is because you will be able to come into the job with the knowledge and confidence necessary to be successful. Some programs will combine classroom instruction with hands-on learning so you will be fully equipped to be a quality dental assistant on your first day on the job. You may also be required to pass a national or state certification exam, depending on your location.

What is the employment outlook like?

The field of dental assisting is growing exponentially. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment of dental assistants will increase 31 percent between 2010 and 2020 – much faster than other occupations. On average, dental assistants earn $33,470 per year or $16.09 per hour. More than half of dental assistants work full time, and it is expected that the occupation will continue to grow as dental care in the United States expands.