The push for dental assistants is one of the key dental industry trends to watch in the years to come. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 332,000 dental assistant jobs in the United States in 2016. BLS projects the number of dental assistant jobs will increase 19% between 2016 and 2026 — much faster than the average profession.
Why are dental assistants in high demand?
To better understand why dental assistants are in high demand, let’s consider the following statistics from a recent American Dental Association (ADA) survey on oral health and well-being in the United States:
- 77% of adults plan to visit the dentist within the next year.
- 82% believe straight, bright teeth can help them get ahead in life.
- 85% feel they need to visit the dentist at least twice a year.
- 95% say regular dental visits are an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
- 97% value oral health.
Oral health is a top priority for many adults, and this is one of the dental industry trends that could drive the demand for dental assistants over the next few years. As more adults prioritize top-notch oral care, dentists will need expert support to keep pace with patient requests. The large baby-boomer population is also aging, resulting in an increased need for dental care.
Individuals who want to embark on a promising career in a rapidly growing job field may want to consider dental assistant training.
What is it like to work as a dental assistant?
Dental assistants are valuable contributors at solo, group, and specialty dental practices, as well as hospital and dental school clinics. They boost a dental office’s productivity and efficiency and perform a variety of tasks, including:
- Taking and developing patient X-rays
- Checking a patient’s blood pressure and pulse
- Developing infection control protocols
- Preparing and sterilizing dental equipment and instruments
- Helping patients feel comfortable throughout a dental office visit
- Providing patients with post-treatment instructions for proper oral care
- Taking impressions of patients’ teeth
- Teaching patients how to brush, floss, and maintain good oral health
- Completing office management tasks
- Contacting patients and suppliers
- Scheduling appointments
- Keeping office records
Given this range of tasks, no two days are exactly alike for a dental assistant. Thus, for those who want a rewarding yet challenging career, becoming a dental assistant may prove to be ideal.
Reasons to become a dental assistant:
There are many reasons why individuals choose to become dental assistants. Some of these reasons include:
- Flexibility: Both part- and full-time dental assistant roles are available, so a dental assistant should have no trouble finding a job that complements his or her schedule. Dental assistants can also choose to work at one office or multiple offices to accommodate their personal schedule.
- Outstanding Work Conditions: Dental assistants work in settings where people come first. Plus, dental offices typically have great cultures where teamwork and staff engagement reign supreme.
- Job Satisfaction: No one wants a job where they dread going to work. In fact, surveys show that almost 3 out of 4 people only work for their paychecks. Fortunately, dental assistants can take pleasure in providing valuable oral care to patients every day.
- Above-Average Salary: BLS indicates the median annual salary of a dental assistant was $37,630 in 2017, with the top 10% earning over $53,000. As the demand for first-rate oral care increases nationwide, the average annual salary of dental assistants likely will rise, too.
- Medical Benefits: Dental assistants often are eligible for employer-paid medical insurance and sick leave.
Of course, it takes a special kind of person to thrive as a dental assistant. But a person who pursues the right education can take the necessary steps to become a dental assistant and accelerate his or her career growth.
Are there dental assistant training requirements?
The ADA requires dental assistants to receive formal education through programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes, universities, or dental schools. These programs generally take about nine to 11 months to complete. Accredited programs include classroom and laboratory work and supervised practical experience. During this time, students learn about teeth, gums, and jaws and the special instruments that dentists use.
Upon successful completion of a dental assistant training program, a student will receive a certificate. Some dental assistant training schools also offer a combination of accredited training, part-time education programs, or training via distance education.
Although there is no shortage of dental assistant training programs available in cities and towns nationwide, it is important to note that not all of these programs are created equal. If a person wants to receive outstanding dental assistant training, it is paramount to conduct an in-depth search for the right training program. That way, an individual can enroll in a dental assistant training program that matches his or her career goals.
What to look for in a dental assistant training program:
There are several factors that an individual should consider before enrolling in a dental assistant training program. These include:
- Industry Expertise: Programs should include expert instructors that can provide students with the skills and training they need to succeed as dental assistants.
- Extensive Course Catalog: A wide range of dental assistant training courses should be offered, including dental billing and coding, front office training, and coronal polishing classes.
- State-of-the-Art Teaching Facilities: A dental assistant training program should offer convenient access to state-of-the-art labs, classrooms, and equipment and use both the Dexter and Fletcher working models.
- Dental Board-Approved Classes: All of a dental assistant training program’s classes should be dental board-approved.
- Real World Training: A dental assistant training program should provide students with the opportunity to work in a high-tech dental office staffed by highly trained dentists and dental assistants.
- Non-Clinical Training: In addition to teaching students how to assist patients in a real-world setting, a dental assistant training program should teach students about the non-clinical aspects of being a dental assistant, such as how to create schedules, market a dental practice, perform billing activities, and manage a dental practice’s accounting.
- Single Location: Dental assistant students should be able to go to a single location for all of their training.
- Interview Practice: A dental assistant training program should provide students with interview practice so they know what to expect during job interviews.
- Resume Writing and Job Placement Assistance: Dental assistant students should have the opportunity to meet with actual dentists and get help with resume writing and job placement. Thanks to resume writing and job placement assistance, a dental assistant student can boost the likelihood of landing his or her dream job after graduation.
- Flexible Schedules: Dental assistant training courses should be available at a student’s convenience; this ensures a student can enroll in dental assistant training without having to rework his or her everyday schedule.
- Hands-On Practice and Classroom Lessons: The ideal dental assistant training program should provide students with a combination of hands-on practice and classroom lessons to help students gain the knowledge and experience they need to feel comfortable working in a dental office.
- Networking Opportunities: A dental assistant training program should give students the opportunity to network with industry professionals and foster professional relationships so they can quickly find their dream job once they graduate.
It is crucial to set the bar high when enrolling in a dental assistant training program. If a student signs up for an inferior program, he or she risks missing out on opportunities to achieve his or her career goals.
Sign up for dental assistant training classes from Howard Healthcare Academy.
At Howard Healthcare Academy, we keep track of the latest dental industry trends and tailor our course offerings accordingly. We provide a vast assortment of dental assistant training courses, all taught by industry experts. Best of all, our instructors go above and beyond the call of duty to empower students with the insights they need to become successful dental assistants.
Enroll in dental assistant training classes from Howard Healthcare Academy and you can take the first step toward a career as a dental assistant. To find out more about our dental assistant training courses, please contact us today at (619) ACADEMY or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.