Dental assistants are one of the most important members of a dental team. They work closely with dentists, providing patients with quality care and customer service. If you have good people skills, enjoy working with your hands, and have an interest in dentistry, then a career as a dental assistant may be right for you.
Becoming a dental assistant is a great way to start a career in the medical field. Dental assisting is a rewarding career that offers many opportunities for growth and advancement. Plus, it’s a great way to help people. If you’re thinking about becoming a dental assistant, here is an easy guide to get you started.
Education and Training Requirements
Although some have completed specialized training programs, most dental assistants have at least a high school diploma. Some states require dental assistants to be licensed or certified. In most states, certification is voluntary.
There are many ways to become a dental assistant. You can train at a Dental Assistant school online, complete a formal training program at a community college or technical school, or you can receive on-the-job training from a dentist. Many dental assistants start their careers by completing a one-year certificate program. These programs typically offer dental anatomy, dental materials, and radiology coursework. They also include clinical experience in a dental office, allowing students to interact with patients and learn firsthand what it’s like to work as a dental assistant.
One step in this journey is taking the DAT test, which stands for Dental Admission Test. This standardized test assesses your knowledge and academic readiness for dental assistant programs and other related fields. The DAT test covers subjects like biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and perceptual ability. To prepare for the DAT test, you can find various resources to help you review and practice the required subjects. Many students opt to purchase a DAT book here, which offers comprehensive study materials, practice questions, and valuable insights into the test format. Additionally, consider taking online practice tests and utilizing study guides to enhance your readiness for the exam and increase your chances of achieving a successful outcome.
Community colleges and technical schools also offer two-year associate’s degree programs in dental assisting. These programs provide more coursework than certificate programs and often include an externship, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in a dental office.
Some dental assistants choose to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. While working as a dental assistant is not required, it may lead to career advancement opportunities.
You Can Also Become a Dental Assistant Through On-The-Job Training
While completing a formal training program is the best way to become a dental assistant, it’s not the only way. You can also become a dental assistant through on-the-job training. This means that you would be trained by a licensed dentist or another experienced dental professional.
On-the-job training is a great option if you’re already working in a dental office and are interested in becoming a dental assistant. It’s also a good choice if you cannot attend a formal training program. However, remember that on-the-job training programs can vary significantly in quality and length.
Some on-the-job training programs may only last a few weeks, while others may last several months. And while some programs may be comprehensive and cover all aspects of dental
assisting, others may only provide basic training. If you choose to become a dental assistant through on-the-job training, ask about the program’s curriculum to ensure it’s the right fit.
You Need to Complete a Continuing Education Course
Once you become a dental assistant, you will need to complete continuing education courses to maintain your skills and knowledge. Most states require dental assistants to complete at least 12 hours of continuing education every year. These courses can be taken online, in person, or through distance learning.
Continuing education courses are a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest changes in dentistry. They will also help you hone your skills and keep up with the latest technology. In addition, most employers prefer to hire dental assistants who have completed continuing education courses.
While certification is not always required, it can give you a competitive edge when seeking employment as a dental assistant. In addition, some states require dental assistants to be certified to perform specific tasks, such as taking x-rays.
The most common type of certification for dental assistants is the DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential. You must pass the DANB Certified Dental Assistant Exam to earn this credential. The exam covers various topics, including infection control, chairside assisting, and dental materials.
You can also become certified in specific areas of dental assisting, such as radiography or orthodontics. These specialty certifications can make you more valuable to potential employers and help you advance in your career.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
Dental assistants play an essential role in providing quality dental care. They work closely with dentists and other dental team members to ensure that patients receive the best possible care. Dental assistants are responsible for a variety of tasks, including:
- Preparing patients for dental procedures
- Cleaning teeth
- Taking x-rays
- Assisting the dentist during procedures
- Scheduling appointments
- Answering patient questions
Get a Job in a Dental Office
Once you have completed your training and become a certified dental assistant, it’s time to start looking for a job. The best way to find work is to contact local dental offices and inquire about open positions. You can also search online job boards or attend job fairs.
When applying for jobs, highlight your clinical experience and any other skills that make you unique. For example, if you are bilingual or have experience working with children, mention this on your resume or during your interview. These skills will make you more attractive to potential employers and increase your chances of getting hired.
Salary and career outlook
The median annual salary for dental assistants was $37,780 in 2016. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $51,800, while the bottom 10 percent made less than $27,590.
Dental assistants can advance their careers by becoming certified or licensed. With additional training and experience, they may become dental hygienists or dental office managers. Some may even choose to become dentists themselves.
The demand for dental assistants is expected to grow by 19 percent from 2016 to 2026. Much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due to an aging population and an increased focus on preventive dental care.
The most important thing to remember when becoming a dental assistant is that you will need to have the proper training and certification. There are many ways to become a dental assistant, but the most common is completing an accredited program and passing the DANB Certified Dental Assistant Exam. Once you have your certification, you can start looking for jobs in dental offices or online. With the right skills and experience, you can have a successful career as a dental assistant.