How to Become a Dental Assistant: The Steps to Take

February 9, 2022

Are you researching career options and trying to decide what to do for a living? Whether you’re a new graduate or ready to change careers, dental assisting may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Dental assistants work in the medical field. They complete their training in around one to two years.

Dental assisting is a stable occupation, with good job security. The Department of Labor expects demand for dental assistants to grow about 7% by 2029, which is faster than average.

Here’s an overview of what happens in the profession and how to become a dental assistant and transform smiles with dental surgeries.

What Is Dental Assisting?

Dental assistants do a combination of administrative and dental work. They are not dental hygienists, who are responsible for cleaning teeth.

A dental hygienist may schedule patients, order supplies, take x-rays, or help prepare false teeth molds. They may also administer medications and explain procedures to patients. Good people skills are important, plus the right academic preparation and technical know-how.

The exact duties of a dental assistant vary from practice to practice. Dental assistant requirements depend on factors like the dental specialty and the number of staff who work in the office.

Smaller offices may offer more opportunities to cross-train. Larger offices may present opportunities to specialize in a technical niche.

How to Become a Dental Assistant?

To become a certified dental assistant, you could train on the job, take a certificate course, or earn an associate’s degree. To prepare academically, it helps to study science and business in high school or college. Classes like biology, microbiology, chemistry, psychology, and administration all provide a good foundation.

Certificate courses like this program take an average of nine to twelve months. Most students can complete an Associate’s degree in four semesters or two years.

If your program offers on-the-job training, go for it! An internship is a great way to see if you like general dentistry or would enjoy a niche like surgery or orthodontics. Hands-on experience also looks great on a resume and is a great way to establish good references for your first job.

Most states require dental assistants to take a comprehensive licensing exam. Be sure to choose a program that prepares you for certification. Many vocational programs offer student support services, so do your research.

Once you have the required credentials, the next step is to look for an entry-level dental assistant job and start your career in dentistry.

Know Your Education and Career Options

So now you know how to become a dental assistant. It’s a good-paying job with strong projected occupational growth.

If you choose to enter this stable profession, you’ll be able to earn a decent living. You could specialize in a skills niche or do a variety of administrative and clinical tasks.

Dental assisting is a great option for career changers. Because you can train in two years or less, it won’t take much time to get started. Another benefit is that you can enter this career without having to pay for a four-year degree.

If you’ve found this article full of useful career information, feel free to check out the rest of our website.

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