Becoming a dental assistant is a popular career choice. In fact, the demand for dental assistants in the United States is “excellent,” according to the American Dental Association (ADA). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes there were 332,000 dental assistant jobs nationwide in 2016, and this figure is projected to grow 19 percent between 2016 and 2026.
Although there are many career opportunities available to dental assistants, it is important to note that becoming a dental assistant is not the right choice for everyone. Ultimately, there are several questions that an individual should consider before pursuing a career as a dental assistant. These questions include:
- What are my career goals?
Take some time to map out your career goals — you’ll be glad you did. If you consider what you want to do in your professional life, you will be better equipped than ever before to determine if a career as a dental assistant is the best choice for you.
Many people choose to become dental assistants because they enjoy helping kids and adults maintain good oral health. These individuals strive to provide outstanding care to patients and relish the opportunity to embrace new challenges every day. Thus, if you’re looking for a job that is educational, challenging, and provides opportunities for personal and professional growth, a career as a dental assistant may be a wonderful option.
- What is it like to work as a dental assistant?
A dental assistant offers support in a number of areas, including:
- Administrative: Performs assorted office management tasks and communicates with business contacts, insurers, and others.
- Patient Support: Schedules patient appointments, prepares patients for examinations, and updates patient records.
- Treatment: Helps a dentist take and process X-rays and works with a dentist during patient examinations and procedures.
For those who want to avoid a mundane 9-to-5 job, becoming a dental assistant may be a great choice. As a dental assistant, you will get to work with different patients every day. You will also have the opportunity to perform a variety of rewarding tasks. Best of all, you’ll serve as a valuable contributor in a dental practice.
- What job opportunities are available to dental assistants?
Dental assistants work in a variety of settings, including:
- Dental offices
- Dental schools
- Private and government clinics and hospitals
- State and local public health departments
As a dental assistant, you should have no trouble finding a place to work close to home, too. Dental assistant opportunities are available in cities and towns nationwide, and BLS points out the number of dental assistant jobs in the United States is projected to increase by 64,600 between 2016 and 2026. If you begin your pursuit of a dental assistant career today, you may find lots of career growth opportunities in the field in the foreseeable future.
- If I become a dental assistant, how much will I earn?
BLS indicates the median annual salary of dental assistants in the United States was approximately $37,630 — or $18.09 per hour — in 2017. Yet dental assistants may earn additional compensation as well. Salary comparison website PayScale reports some dental assistants earn up to $3,000 from annual bonuses and profit sharing benefits. PayScale also indicates about 33 percent of dental assistants receive medical and dental coverage from their employer, and one in six dental assistants receives vision coverage. Furthermore, a dental assistant’s salary may vary based on his or her geographic location, years of experience, and other factors.
Meanwhile, becoming a certified dental assistant (CDA) may be ideal for those who want to maximize their earning potential. A recent Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) survey revealed CDAs earn a median hourly salary that is nearly $2 more per hour than non-certified dental assistants. The survey also showed that CDAs often receive paid holidays, paid vacation, 401(k) or pension plans, free dental care, paid sick leave, and other perks that may be unavailable to non-certified dental assistants.
- As a dental assistant, can I work part- or full-time?
Both part- and full-time job opportunities are frequently available to dental assistants across the United States. Therefore, if you are looking to work 20 hours a week or want to work a standard 40-hour work week, you’re sure to find a dental assistant job that fits your schedule.
Becoming a dental assistant often represents a terrific option for those who have young children or want to keep their weekends and evenings free. Since many dental practices operate during traditional business hours, dental assistants often enjoy predictable schedules during the work week.
- What is the most rewarding part about being a dental assistant?
One of the best things about working as a dental assistant is that the job provides rewarding experiences every day. As such, dental assistants may find many reasons to smile after a typical work day.
Once you become a dental assistant, you may discover there are myriad reasons to enjoy going to work. Some dental assistants find the ability to help others is the most rewarding part of their job, while others enjoy the wide range of responsibilities and the challenges that come with them. And for other dental assistants, the opportunity to embrace lifelong learning experiences makes their work worthwhile.
- What training will I need to become a dental assistant?
Before you can become a dental assistant, you will need to receive the proper training. In some states, dental assistants must graduate from an accredited training program and pass an exam. Other states have no formal educational requirements for dental assistants; in these states, dental assistants learn via on-the-job training.
Of course, the more dental assistant training classes you complete, the more attractive you will become to prospective employers. And for those who want to go as far as possible in their dental assistant careers, enrolling in a dental assistant training program may be ideal.
ADA points out there are approximately 270 ADA-accredited dental assistant education programs at community and technical colleges in the United States. These programs generally require a minimum of one year to complete. Upon successful completion of a dental assistant training program, you can earn certifications that may help you stand out to prospective employers and increase your earning potential.
- Will dental assistant training fit my schedule and budget?
If you work a full- or part-time job or have kids, you may have limited time at your disposal. Fortunately, dental assistant training programs are available that offer exceptional flexibility. These programs often help those who want to transition from their current career to a new career in dental assisting. Or, the programs enable parents to sign up for dental assistant training classes without having to sacrifice time with their kids.
Dental assistant training programs that won’t force individuals to break their budgets are also available. Some individuals may even qualify for student loans, scholarships, grants, or other financial aid to help cover the costs of dental assistant training. With this financial assistance, individuals — regardless of budget — can receive the training they need to achieve their career goals.
Clearly, there is a lot to think about for those who are considering a career as a dental assistant. These questions may help you decide whether a career as a dental assistant is right for you.
If you decide you are ready to become a dental assistant, congratulations! Now, you just need to determine where to enroll in dental assistant training classes. If you choose Howard Healthcare Academy, you can sign up for dental assistant training that fits your schedule and budget. To learn more about all of our dental assistant training courses, please contact us today at (619) ACADEMY or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.