If you're looking for a rewarding career that offers flexible schedules and a short training period, consider enrolling in a dental assisting trade school. When you earn your diploma or certificate, you can prepare to join a challenging, yet growing field.
While many dental assistants gain training on the job, various dental assisting programs exist at trade schools, community colleges, and technical institutes. The basic minimum educational requirement is typically a high school degree and most dental assisting programs can be completed after a year of study.
After completing study, dental assistants should be prepared to assist the employing dentist in a variety of ways, including prepping patients, preparing materials for restorations, processing x-ray films, maintaining patient records, handling dental supplies, and more. It is important to note that many states regulate the types of tasks dental assistants can perform and some states even require the dental assistant to be licensed.
Thriving in the Dental Assistant Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time jobs are available in dental assisting. However, a majority of dental assistants work part-time schedules--allowing for greater flexibility. Some dental assistants are even employed by multiple dental offices.
If you are interested in career growth, a central career path includes continuing your training to become a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists typically earn more and have a greater number of skilled career tasks. In fact, the American Dental Association notes that nearly 90 percent of dentists traditionally reimburse dental assistants who continue in their education.
In 2008, dental assistants earned a median annual salary of $32,380.