Dental Assisting – Do You Have What It Takes
Are you wondering what how to pursue career dental assisting, and know a four-year college or university isn’t right for you? Dental assistants do exactly what you think they do – assist the dentist. These tasks include fluoride application, taking oral X-rays, sterilizing instruments, preparing patients for treatment and cleaning, using suction equipment while the dentist works on the patient, and instructing patients in oral hygiene, among others. Some assistants perform more specific tasks after training under the dentist, such as making mouth molds or processing lab work. Dental assistants usually enjoy working with people in an environment that changes daily. Important qualities of a person working this job include being detail-oriented, personable, and highly organized. This is an exciting profession and will keep you on your feet – below are five reasons this could be your dream job.
Great job outlook
In 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor projected a 25% growth in the Dental Assisting profession over the next ten years – that is almost 75,000 job openings by the year 2022! The average job only grows 11% over a decade, so the demand for dental assisting will be much greater than the demand for a majority of other professions. Research is making more links between oral hygiene and general health everyday and people are becoming more educated about their oral hygiene. Additionally, new federal legislation is making dental insurance available to more people; as a result, we need more dentists and dental assistants, and fast.
Depending on where you decide to work in dental assisting, your annual salary can range anywhere between $25,000 and $48,000 – not bad for a job that doesn’t require an advanced degree! Most dental assistants work full time, between 30 and 45 hours each week, though some work part-time at multiple locations (discussed below). About one-third of assistants work part-time and, depending on the office in which you choose to work, you might have the flexibility to choose between days, evenings, and weekends. The earning potential could be limited depending on where you work – especially if it is smaller, solo practice – but the skills you learn in this profession could help you advance if you choose to make a career change.
First and foremost, you’ll get great dental coverage! In addition, dental assistants are eligible for medical insurance, sick leave, and paid vacation time. Personal and medical benefits are extremely important in today’s world where large medical expenses can rack up quickly; by workings towards a profession in which benefits are provided, you can sleep well at night knowing you will be protected in the case of a medical emergency and can maintain good health by getting routine checkups that won’t empty your bank account.
Work in a Variety of Locations
For some people, one of the most difficult aspects of keeping a long-term job is the boredom one faces when returning to the same office to do the same things, day after day. Luckily, being a dental assistant is rarely boring. In addition to seeing new patients and practicing new dentistry each day, dental assisting professionals can work in a wide variety of locations; some even work part-time at two or more locations to keep things even more exciting. Dental assistants are needed in solo practices, group practices, specialty practices (such as an orthodontist or oral surgeon), hospital clinics, and dental school clinics. People with this training can also work with insurance companies processing dental claims, vocational schools, and more.
Perhaps one of the best benefits of becoming a dental assistant is that there are several paths to becoming one and few, if any, require a college degree. Our state, California, requires dental assisting professionals to graduate from programs registered for the profession that follow specific guidelines.
Why don’t you join our next session, give us a call at (951) 816-6298 today and we will set you on the path for that perfect job you have been searching for.
Dr. K. Pat Brown