Dental Assistant Career Information
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What does a Dental Assistants do?
Dental assistants engage in a wide variety of tasks within a dentists’ office, including preparing a patient for examination, sterilizing instruments, and record keeping. Dental assistants work closely with dentists, often providing the dentist with “extra hands” so that the patient can be taken care of efficiently. Specific duties for a dental assistant vary depending on the office.
Dental assistants differ from dental hygienists, who generally have more training and expertise and make a higher hourly wage. Dental hygienists perform clinical tasks and require a higher educational training.
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What kind of certification will I need?
The path to becoming a dental assistant varies depending on the state regulation. In some states, dental assistants can work without a college degree or a formal education, in which case assistants are trained on the job. Typically, dental assistants are required to complete one to two years of on-the-job training. Other states require a dental assistant to graduate from an accredited dental assisting program or become a Certified Dental Assistant by passing the CDA examination through the Dental Assisting National Board. Prospective dental assistants are eligible to take the exam after completing two years of on-the-job training or graduating from an recognized training program.
What kind of salary can I expect to earn?
Dental assistants earn around $33, 470 per year and $16.09 per hour.* The hourly wage can increase with further certification and experience.
How long will I be in school?
For full completion, dental assistant programs generally take about a year to receive a certificate or diploma. Two-year programs through a community college typically result in an Associate’s degree.
*information from Bureau of Labor Statistics