There are plenty of career opportunities in the dental field outside of becoming a dentist. For instance, training to become a dental assistant allows you to work one on one with patients, without needing to spend many years in school. Read on to find out more about what a dental assistant does, what kind of formal training is required, and what to expect in terms of salary and career growth.
What Does A Dental Assistant Do?
The title "dental assistant" makes perfect sense when it comes to explaining the role. Dental assistants are responsible for working with dentists to complete procedures safely and efficiently, all while making sure patients are as comfortable as possible. Specific job duties may include sterilizing dental instruments, providing dentists with tools during procedures, taking x-rays, and the like. Some dental assistants can even perform certain procedures themselves, such as tooth polishing and fluoride treatments, but this can vary by state.
What Kind Of Schooling Or Training Is Required?
A diploma or certificate program in dental assisting will teach you what you need to know to practice in the field. Most community colleges offer a program for dental assisting. If done on a full-time basis, most students can finish such a program in about a year. Some students choose to pursue an associate degree; this takes closer to two years.
On-the-job training usually takes a few weeks and is typically conducted by the dentist, hygienists, and other dental assistants. During your hands-on training, you will learn the specific ways in which the office operates, where instruments and materials are kept, and other applicable information. Once you are confident in your abilities, you will be "cut loose" and allowed to work more independently.
Salary Expectations And Career Outlook
Dental assistants make about $38K annually, though this varies depending on where you are practicing and how much experience you have. The nice thing about working as a dental assistant, aside from the salary, is the flexible scheduling. While many dental assistants work full time, offices are open to hiring on a part-time basis, making this a great option for busy people trying to balance work and family life.
The career outlook for dental assistants is great; there is much demand for people who know how to perform this job well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for dental assistants is expected to grow 19 percent over the next few years, making this a viable career option for those who want stability and peace of mind wherever they live. Overall, working as a dental assistant is a rewarding and relatively well-paying career, especially considering how quickly you can go from school to the field.
Start Working Soon
Dental assisting gets you into a solid career quickly. You’ll get to work in a clean, comfortable workplace and meet all sorts of people every day. The career is low in stress and high in satisfaction. If you’d like to begin your education now, find a school near you.