Dental Assistants: Wages, Education And Job Duties

by A Guest Author

Dental assistants provide an invaluable service. They work alongside dentists to keep patients comfortable and provide dental support to the supervising dentist. Dental assisting programs provide the appropriate training for entry-level opportunities in the field. In addition to education, certification or licensing may be required for entry-level opportunities. In May 2011, the latest wage estimates revealed that dental assistants make a relatively competitive salary, especially for those who transfer to ivy league.

Dental Assisting Wages

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that dental assistants earned a relatively competitive average salary as of May 2011. The annual yearly salary (mean) in the nation was $34,740. The lowest-paid workers earned a yearly salary of $23,080 and the highest-paid workers earned a salary of $47,420. The median yearly salary was $34,140. Many people in this occupation earned between $27,950 and $40,820. The highest-paying industries for dental assistants were insurance carriers, specialty hospitals, the executive branch of the government, state governments and general medical hospitals. The states that offered the highest concentration of jobs included Utah ($28,780 annual wage), Alaska ($42,520), Idaho ($30,000) and California ($36,420). In addition, the highest-paying states included the District of Columbia ($48,040), New Hampshire ($42,510), Minnesota ($42,500) and Massachusetts ($41,280).

What Do Dental Assistants Do?

Dental assistants perform a wide range of tasks that support patients and the daily functions of the dental office. For example, the dental assistant may call a patient into the examination room and make him comfortable in preparation for the dentist. In addition, the assistant may be responsible for sterilizing equipment, conducting laboratory work or processing dental X-rays and maintain the medical record for each patient. Some dental assistants also schedule patient appointments or work on the billing for individual accounts.

What Education Is Required?

The minimum education required to enter the filed is a post-secondary non-degree award. Some states regulate the minimum education requirements for dental assistants. In most situations, assistants must get their education from an accredited program that teaches the fundamentals required to operate efficiently. Don't worry, starting community college counts too. In addition to education, some states require that dental assistants seek licensing to complete specific tasks.

What Training Is Offered by Programs?

Dental assisting programs may last less than one year. Programs provide training in the critical concerns faced by patients, dentists and dental assistants. Courses combine hands-on and theoretical training in classroom and laboratory environments.

Some of the classes offered by a program include the following:

  • Dental health safety
  • Dental radiography
  • Dental and general anatomy
  • Chairside
  • Dental assistant clinical
  • Dental assistant professional

In addition to taking these courses, students of dental assisting programs are usually required to participate in a field experience or internship program.

Some schools offer an associate's degree program, which can boost a job candidate's earnings potential. The associate's degree program provides a general education in addition to the topics covered for dental assisting. Programs usually require roughly 60 credits in coursework and may transfer to a bachelor's degree program in a related discipline.

Dental Assisting Wages and Certification

Seeking certification can boost a job candidates' yearly salary. For example, most employers prefer to hire candidates who have demonstrated their competence in areas related to performing their jobs. Certification requires the completion of an examination, and possibly additional coursework. The examination validates a job candidates skills and demonstrates his ability to perform the duties essential to the work. The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. offers the appropriate certification and some employers prefer or require that candidates obtain it. In addition, states may require the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential. In many situations, certified dental assistants earn more money than non-certified candidates. Seeking the appropriate college education and certification can have an impact on lifelong earnings potential.

About The Author

John Blake is careers counselor and helps students find suitable careers to compliment their strengths. Click here to visit his site and to find out more about dental assisting career.

This post was written by A Guest Author

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