Dentists and dental clinics are hiring dental assistants to assume routine dental tasks in the office. Dental assistants divide their duties between patient care, office duties, and laboratory work. Dental assisting can also include processing patient x-rays, performing chair-side duties, and setting patient appointments. Of the 295,300 dental assistants that worked in 2008, more than a third worked part-time, enjoying flexible hours. More than 93 percent worked in dental offices.
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How to Prepare for a Career in Dental Assisting
Some dental assistants learn on the job, but with a huge increase in openings during the 2008-2018 decade, many attend year-long dental assisting degree programs to receive comprehensive training. Some states require dental assistants to complete licensing or registration requirements. The Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential administered by the Dental Assisting National Board recognizes career training from accredited dental assisting programs.
Education Requirements for Dental Assisting Professionals
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that dental assistant classes in radiology may be required for certifications allowing you to perform x-ray procedures. Many dental assisting training programs last a year, however you can also earn an associate's degree in two years. With experience dental assistants can often assume duties as office manager or return to college to earn a degree in dental hygiene.
Dental Assisting Salary Range and Job Outlook
The BLS projects a 36 percent increase in dental assistant jobs from 2008-2018, a rate faster than the average growth for all occupations. The median 2008 salary for dental assistants in 2008 was $32,380.