5 Industry Insights Every New Dental Assistant Should Know
Dental offices couldn’t run without the help of dental assistants.
To efficiently run a dental practice, a team of dedicated professionals must work together to offer patients the best oral healthcare.
Dental assistants play a big part in that.
If you’re looking into a dental assistant certification, there’s good news for you: The field is growing quickly. In fact, between 2016-2026, an estimated 64,600 dental assistant jobs will be added to the economy.
That means more opportunities for individuals looking to nail down a secure job in the healthcare world.
Here’s a look at this ever-growing industry:
1. Full-Time Work With Full-Time Benefits
Most dental assistants work full time since patients need to be seen during regular business hours throughout the week. Depending on your office setting, you may work evenings or weekends. The full-time work means you’ll receive a steady paycheck, plus benefits.
Some dental practices offer benefits like:
Paid time off
As with most positions, you can negotiate certain benefits that are important to you, too.
2. Working for the Government Pays Well
Dental offices are generally where most dental assistants find work, so you may be surprised to know that the federal government hires dental assistants as well. While you could enlist and work as a dental assistant, you could also work in health and human services or a local veterans affairs department, for example. The average mean salary of a federally hired dental assistant is over $42,000 annually.
Military spouses, in particular, can benefit from applying for federal jobs as they can use the military spouse's noncompetitive hiring process to land work. If you’re a military spouse but not yet a dental assistant, you may be eligible for a MyCAA scholarship, which could pay for select dental assistant certification programs.
3. The Industry is Fast Growing
Everyone needs their teeth cleaned, and dental assistants play a big part in assisting with patient oral health. This field is growing by leaps and bounds — 19% in fact — which is much faster than the average job growth in other occupations.
4. Dental Assistants Can Have Multiple Credentials
Once you receive your dental assistant certification, it’s not the end of your training. You’ll always be learning on the job, and to stay updated on industry standards, you’ll be required to keep up with continuing education.
Here are some of the more advanced certifications you can earn:
Certified Dental Assistant
Certified Orthodontic Assistant
Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant
Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant
The more you learn, the more valuable you are in the field. These certifications are one way to prove you offer the best dental assisting skills.
5. Your Work Setting Opportunities Vary
You won’t necessarily have to work in a traditional dentist's office if you don’t want to, although a dental office is the most commonplace of employment.
A few of the settings you could work in:
Solo dental practices (practices with only one dentist)
Group practices (practices with two or more dentists)
Specialty practices (such as oral and maxillofacial surgery)
State and local public health departments
Private and government hospitals and clinics
Depending on your program, you may be able to do a dental internship. This allows you to explore different areas of the dental field to see which settings and practices you like best.
Discover a Passion For Oral Health
Dental assisting is perfect for those with an interest in oral health who also like to help others. The industry growth isn’t slowing down anytime soon thanks to an aging population and ongoing research about the general effects of oral care on health.
If you decide you love the dental field, you can also grow with the industry. Many dental assistants go on to be dental hygienists or even become dentists. You can also find careers with insurance companies, processing dental insurance claims, and or as a dental product sales representative.
The career advantages within the dental field are endless as is the rewarding work of being a dental assistant.