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How to Become a Dental Assistant

You have decided to pursue your new career as a dental assistant? You know you can do it and you know that you have scores of choices in colleges, levels of education and areas of expertise.

how to become a dental assistant

You probably even have a pretty good idea of how those different levels of proficiency can affect your range of potential income as well as provide you with the comfortable level of challenge that you will be happy with.

Now you know that you want to become a dental assistant, and you certainly have questions that need to be answered. So, first you will want to find out how to become a dental assistant.

You Hold The Power

Don’t forget for one moment that there are a plethora of options available to you. You know what you need to take hold of the best decisions for your life style. You know how it needs to fit into your schedule.

By now, you probably know if you want to do it mainly through online courses or in the classroom at a college, or how much of each. That’s good, because now you get to choose the route you want to take to start your journey to your new career.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Dental Assistant?

This is one of those questions that we wish we could just have a cut-and-dried, straight answer to, but remember, you have so many options, and for each different choice you may make there are different answers to that question.

But the process of finding out the answer to the questions of how to become a dental assistant or how long does it take to become one should not be like trying to pull teeth. That’s the dentist’s job.

The Quick, General Answer

Once you decide which area of expertise you would like to concentrate on you can begin getting your answers. In general, though, and depending on your focus, one might say that 9 months is a decent ballpark average in which you can become a certified dentist assistant.

You may be choosing an associates degree in a more specific field though, which means that you could be looking at closer to two years, depending on the level of commitment you are able to make

Take into consideration, too, that there are many colleges offering accelerated programs, so if you feel comfortable with the minimum education required or the quickest route, you can also finish your schooling in less time.

As you make your decision just keep in mind the likelihood of more education and training qualifying you for a higher salary and more job flexibility.

Variations From State To State

This news is both exciting and surprising, and also explains why one can’t simply say it will take you exactly this or that many weeks, months or years to become a dentist assistant.

A large factor in your decision of how far to take your education may also be influenced by the different dental assistant titles from one state to the next and how much dental assisting flexibility you can participate in a given state by law.

So, in a small recap now; you know what you want to do, you know what type of educational structure is going to fit best into your current lifestyle and present obligations, and now you will find out what is available to for you to achieve within the state you will be launching your career.

Your next step is to find out the legal minimum requirements that are in place for your state. More importantly, you will seek out how high you can reach in your dental assisting career. That’s where are you now.

It’s time to explore an array of achievements that you may be able to reach for in your locale and, thankfully, you will find a choice of many colleges to help you answer those questions.

Choosing Your Education By Choosing Your Expertise

dental assisting expertise, x-rayDepending on your state, you may be able to become a trained and certified assistant or one who reaches for more specialized training that will make you a more appealing candidate for employment.

One qualifying criterion often required by dentists is the ability to perform coronal polishing procedures (the cleaning and polishing of crowns), as it frees up much more time for the doctor.

A highly sought after level of dental assisting is to be qualified in restorative functions. This is a broad term that enables many different tasks and duties, but closely referring to saving teeth through fillings, crowns, root canals and the like.

Restoration procedures are touched upon in any college training, as is coronal polishing training, but many dentists seek out assistants with a higher level of expertise and certified qualifications.

A certificate in radiologic proficiency may be required. Basic knowledge of radiology will always be taught in training but within specific fields further knowledge and adeptness in radiology are preferred, if not insisted upon. Making oneself stand out usually equals more opportunity and more pay.

You may find that your passion lies in working in the orthodontic environment. Many choose orthodontics because of the job fulfillment of participating in helping others feel better about his or herself through improving their appearance.

If that is your case, it would behoove you to opt for some specialized training at a school that will your enhance your opportunity to be hired within that very interesting field.

Speaking of the fun of helping others to feel better by looking better, you may choose to take the necessary training to do the teeth whitening at your dental office. This is not allowed in all states yet, but is likely to become more commonplace as the dental assistants are allowed to take on more responsibility under the doctor’s supervision.

With the spike expected in available dental assisting jobs it would not be surprising if that is a task that became one commonly done by the assistant.

More Specialization To Consider

It is incredible to see all of the extraordinary specializations possible within the field of dental assisting and it is exciting to know that there are colleges for dental assistants to become well-trained for each one of them. We will consider just a few more, very fascinating options.

An area of expertise that you may want to consider is dental sedation. The ability to share some of the responsibility of anesthesia with the dentist during delicate procedures, monitoring the administration of nitrous oxide, among other things, is a wonderful asset.

Monitoring anesthesia is a weighty responsibility and your abilities might easily put you at the top of the list of his or her potential employees.

The same could be said of those specializing in fluoride administration. If this is an area that sounds attractive to you, make sure you find out early on in the interviewing process if the college you are considering for dental assistance training offers that specific instruction.

That goes for any distinctive branch of dental assisting you are likely to pursue.

It could be more your forte to be more involved in the restoration of teeth, meaning that you could be performing duties such as preliminary assessments of the oral condition, applying fissure and pit sealants, and more occupation in crown and bridge restoration.

If you can think of it, and it is allowable by law, there are appropriate programs and colleges for it.

Words You Need To Remember

Choices, variety, action, ease, and timing are the concepts you should focus on now. (You will get to dental assisting terminology soon enough.) It is in your reach. Although there are many great colleges, some of the more reputable ones are known to have waiting lists, so don’t delay.

There are so many options available, you can practically mold your education around your lifestyle. You can count on a career that offers you remarkable variety, in areas of specialties and in the amount of hours you want to work.

If you find yourself dreaming of a new career, an increase in salary, job security, more fulfillment, challenge or appreciation, you are in luck. The timing is supreme for you to make it all happen to your liking, in your time frame and with your personal specifications.

Dental Assistant Job Description

What does a dental assistant do? First off, they do not clean teeth. However, they are an essential part to any dental practice. Here we share what to expect your role will be in this type of job. People tend to think of teeth cleaning as the primary duty, however you will find the two vocations taking place in the same office (a dental hygienist and a dental assistant) are two very different jobs.

dental assistant job description

What is a Standard Dental Assistant Job Description?

To start out with a simple and obvious answer, they are the person who assists the dentist in any way that he or she needs, in any way allowable by law, and in part, depending on his or her level of education and training.

A dentist’s assistant job description can vary from state to state; practice-to-practice, based on a dentist’s individual preferences, and how prepared you are to take on new challenges.

You will rarely see a dentist saying “open wide” without a trusted assistant as nearby. If you reflect on a time you have been a patient, you can likely recall some of their duties.

For the dentist to do the intricate work the dentist’s assistant is physically enabling it by what is known as retracting (pulling the cheek to the side to make room) for the doctor or sometimes you may be reigning in an unruly tongue (as tongues can often be), and an important job that must be done!

dental assistant duties

When a dentist preps a tooth before a filling, it is the duty of the dental assistant to keep the infamous drill from becoming hot by applying a steady stream of water to the area of treatment. And of course, they are also suctioning the water back out as fast as it goes in so that it is not running down the patient’s chin.

That is also why one of their duties is to have put that nifty disposable covering on the patient before beginning. (AKA, the bib)

There is only so much one person can physically do with just two hands. That is why this role could easily be viewed as the dentist’s right arm, or extra pair of hands. When it comes to dental assisting duties, you could say that those common metaphors are closer to literal realities in many situations.

There is So Much More to the Job than the Job Description

The dental assistant job description goes way beyond keeping an area wet or dry or managing tongues and cheeks. It even goes way beyond sterilizing instruments, setting them up appropriately on trays, and expertly handing them to the dentist as they are needed.

As your skills sharpen you will often know exactly what is needed next; you will be a link in that important flow that needs to be present in the highly professional environment.

Patient Contact: A Time to Shine

For those of you who look forward to patient contact, these may be your favorites on the list of the assistant’s job description: You have the responsibility of keeping the patient calm and comfortable.

It is very important that you are observing the patient for signs of ease, comfort or distress and anxiety. If you become aware of a patient who is particularly in pain, afraid, nervous, ill or agitated in any way, you will be reporting that to the dentist immediately.

When a patient enters into the room and you observe the body language, facial expressions, or even the verbal cues that one is very frightened or worried, you get to go to work on easing such feelings.

It is such an important part of dental assisting duties to be aware of a patient’s level of comfort, and to jump into action when a nervous patient needs your help.

You are the one who will be spending a great deal of time with the patient in the preparation prior to and after the procedures, so your influence on the patients is highly significant.

This is why caring, composed, compassionate people can be great at this job. Being able to exhibit a calm, sympathetic and understanding composure will make you someone that is highly valued by both the doctor and patients.

This skill is important enough to be considered one of the most important duties and cannot be over-emphasized.

Asking them questions could help you find out exactly what they are most worried about. Maybe they have had a bad experience, and you drawing that out of them could ease some of their tension; perhaps even allowing a trust to develop for you that you will be watching out for them.

Getting the patient to talk about their fear is a good way to relieve pressure for them. Allowing them to hear you convey their worries to the dentist may go a long way in helping them to stay calm.

Technology in Dentist Assistant Duties

Another excellent reason to obtain a the proper training and education is because taking x-rays for the dentist will be among your duties. Taking x-rays requires technological training to become knowledgeable of hazards and develop a sharp awareness of safety issues.

It is another serious responsibility of the that should not go without proper education and training.

A fact that most of us are aware of is that one who is or might be pregnant needs to have extra precautions taken when getting x-rays. A dental assistant who is or may be pregnant has to consider the dangers to herself and her levels of radiation exposure.

Since it is part of the job description to regularly take x-rays proper training for that task is a must. Such training is found among dental assistant programs.

Advancements In Crowns and Bridges

The technologies pertaining to the perfection of bridges, crowns, braces, retainers, anti-snoring devices and many other oral appliances is ever-changing.

Since it fits into the job duties to perform tasks pertaining to the oral devices, such as cleaning, slight adjustments, doing initial impressions for them, we see that specialized training is a must.

Dental assistants must know the right mixtures for the impression mold that needs to be taken, exactly how it must go in, how the patient carefully needs to hold their mouth, how long it needs to stay in, how to gently remove the impression, all while patiently and verbally coaching and informing the patient through the entire procedure.

That is in addition to understanding all of the dentist’s instructions, then making the proper notations and other technical instructions that need to be performed and passed onto the lab that actually constructs the appliance.

A Well-Rounded Asset to the Office

There is more good news about dental assisting job duties for those who like versatile and fascinating tasks that challenge what could otherwise be an everyday routine job.

As a dentist’s assistant you are often called upon to perform activities in all corners of a dental office. You will be providing reports, managing information coming and going, and likely be responsible for the inventory of dentistry supplies.

You may very well be the person, who does follow-up calls to patients after certain procedures; after all, you and the dentist will be the most aware of what the patient endured on their last visit.

You can very likely be an extraordinary asset to the dentist’s practice and success, depending on your education, training, qualifications and certifications; in other words, depending on the depth of you knowledge through sufficient education and training.

Careers for dental assistants are sharply rising as we speak and there has never been a better time to get into the field. Indecision should not have the power to come between you and a life-changing, life-enhancing career.

Find Your Place

The timing couldn’t be better. The opportunities could not be greater than they are right now. Everything is in line for you to change the course of your employment, your career, your fulfillment, and your life’s dreams. This is your time.

Colleges are laying out the red carpet for you right now. March right up and get what you know you should have and what you deserve: a superior education for a career in dental assisting. It is altogether there for you. Does this job description grab your attention; all you have to do is say yes, get started, and make it yours.

Dental Assistant Training

Any job a person gets requires some training, even if it is where to put a certain product or tool or what time something is to be started or finished. You can see a sign spinner and know that he has received training before going out to his corner. Any of us could come up with quite a list of products and services that we would have to insist on coming from those well-trained or well-educated.

dental assistant training

When it comes to products and services that could make the difference between one’s pain or comfort, sickness or wellness, injury or safety and life or death, the more significant the education, experience and training becomes. The more specialized the field is (like, becoming a dental assistant), the more specialized the training needs to be.


In 1965 or 1970 one may have easily walked into a dentist office, fresh out of high school, filled out an application, and walked out with crossed fingers that something would happen to the current employee who already had your coveted position.

Most dentists were in their own office with minimal supporting staff, especially in smaller towns. They may have seen just a handful of patients each day. If you went in with a toothache only a few years before that, the tooth was likely pulled.

In those same years we did not have a container of anti-bacterial gel sitting on every counter or a massive container of anti-bacterial wipes by the grocery carts in stores. Then we were merely in the dawn of awareness about germs and bacteria, and the ways that they were bringing detriment to us.

Programs were starting to be taught at elementary schools about why one should brush their teeth three times a day but that was pretty much the extent of the average person’s dental awareness.


Such things just aren’t the case anymore as in the above scenarios. So much has been learned that has made dental assistant training what could be considered a moral must.

Their positions now can carry a weightier responsibility, contributing to and supporting the proper office sterilization procedures and the even more routine steps taken to clean between patients’ use of the dental chairs.

Proper precautions are taught in these programs for the sterilization of instruments, but not only for the pieces of equipment that are put in patients mouths; there are precautions taken in all of the areas where patients are treated.

Did you know that certain heart conditions require that an anti-biotic be administered prior to any dental treatment?

Proper Dental Assistant Training

Whether you get your training online or you choose to attend courses on campus is only a personal preference.

dental assistant training program

Colleges have fine-tuned training online to teach students as expertly as is done in the classes in any classroom. The most important decision for you to make is that you are, indeed, getting the proper training.

We live in an era like never before where education is expected for landing a job, much more so, in landing a good job, and even more it is the case in landing a good job that involves a specialized field.

Today, you begin with a resume and cover letter that had better have some significant information that convinces your potential employer to give you consideration.

Being considered means being remembered and being remembered for the right reason. The right reason being that you are able to present yourself with a dental assistant certification and meeting minimum requirements at the least.

The significant information that makes employers put your resume in the “call” pile instead of the “file” pile is all about (and especially without an abundant amount of experience) your specialized education and dental assistant training.

Keeping in mind how the hiring process usually works today, it is logical that we must make a good impression on paper. Job-hunting in the past meant showing up at the place we knew to be hiring and going from there. Now it is highly likely that we are sending off resumes and cover letters to yet nameless and faceless employers.

It’s like they are untouchable until you have passed your first test of verbally selling yourself on paper, which is done through your cover letter and resume.

Call Pile or File Pile

As much as we can wish it weren’t so, we know well what makes the difference in which pile our resume lands. What will not make a difference is whether you have chosen from one of the online programs or from the courses that take place in the classroom.

The bottom line is, if you have had not take any courses, your resume will not likely fall on top of the call pile, but instead, the file pile.

The Big Deal

You might be wondering why so much emphasis is being put on training even with the information that has been discussed. Yes it is true that dental assistants have been, and in a few odd cases, still are trained on the job.

But it will behoove you to face reality regarding the likelihood of getting into the call pile if you have not shown enough concern for your own endeavor to seek out courses to prepare yourself for the important position you are seeking.

The field of dentistry has become very extensive and specialized. That’s a big deal too. As you make a choice, which may be dental assistant training online or a different avenue to learn the requirements for this position, you will see more and more that training programs will cover important basic and deeper understanding of scores of procedures and valuable knowledge which will prepare you for your new vocation.

Did you know that there are close to 100 terms that are very specific to dental procedures, and most will be commonly used within the setting of a dental practice? Being familiar with them or not could be a big deal.

Your training may get you to an interview, and in your interview you can show off a little bit that you have cared enough to become educated, but not if you are unaware that every tooth in your mouth has it’s own name! You will be much happier and things will go much more easily if you are entering into your dental assistant career with ample training.

Requirements vary from state to state and it is an individual responsibility to know what your state’s stipulations are before deciding on the right classes.

Your college experts will know that as well. But there is one move that you can make that is a definite step in the right direction and that is beginning the process of looking at the programs of the colleges available to you.

Staying Out of the File Pile

If you want this, you can have it. You can become a dental assistant and experience an exciting new career. With much expected growth in the field of dental assisting jobs still on the horizon, it is a perfect time to get started.

Get your training started, that is, by choosing a college that suits you best.

It can be a stress-free process because colleges today are striving to fit into your lifestyle. If you have not yet checked into the flexible programs being offered, it could be a little difficult to believe how easy it has been made for you.

Once you begin checking into programs, you will see that there is one right for you.

As you pursue your training and the degree to which you choose to become educated, think about your resume being an extension, or representation of yourself.

You are going to be given the once over (via resume and cover letter) and you are going to get categorized by the pile you go in; either the call pile or the file pile.

Remember what you know in your heart, that if that resume hits the file pile it may not get picked up again. So you have one shot to get placed on the top of the call pile; just the one shot that could land you in the file pile.

And you also know in your heart that it is the education and training that you know the employer will want that will land you where you want to be too. That is a decision that you make right now.

Dental Assisting

With a career in dental assisting you can play a valuable role in the dentist’s office. This job goes beyond handing tools to a dentist or checking in patients.

dental assisting

You contribute to the overall office atmosphere and quality of service each patient experiences.

Visiting a dental office can evoke stress and anxiety for some. As a dentist’s assistant you are able to help calm fear and move patients in and out of the dentist’s chair with ease.

A Dental Assistant’s Role in the Office

As a dental assistant you are trained to take on various responsibilities within the dental office. You attend to the details leading up to and following dental care. Your work ensures that dentists can lend their attention to more technical dental procedures.

You are also important to a patient’s experience, and have the opportunity to make each visit smooth and stress-free. You greet patients upon entry, obtain and update records, set and confirm appointments, and process both patient and insurance billing.

You make sure patients feel comfortable prior to treatment. Additionally, you instruct patients on dental healthcare at home. You help reinforce the message: care for your mouth and you won’t have to fear the dentist.

Dental Assisting Specifics

Assistants maneuver through the dental office, performing various duties from front office to the dental chair. They support dentists and dental hygienists before, during and after dental procedures.

They have the opportunity to contribute to patient care. They do so by preparing patients for treatment, obtaining patient records and putting them at ease.

They set up equipment and materials, and assist the dentist during dental procedures. Following dental care, they instruct patients on postoperative measures and optimization of at home oral hygiene.

They have the chance to make patients feel comfortable and safe in a place that can arouse anxiety. Their connection with patients allows for a meaningful interaction that dispels worry and enhances dental care.


Formerly, many employees in this role underwent on-the-job training in order to learn their functions within the office. Now, formal education carries more weight in the industry.

dental assisting training

Many states require them to obtain specific certification, available only to those who have graduated from an accredited training program.

A dental assisting program generally lasts one year, and results in a certificate or diploma. A 2 year program at a junior or community college leads to an associate degree.

It is important to note that not every dentist assisting school or program is equal. Each may grant adequate preparation, but not all have received the stamp of approval from a national accrediting body.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) is responsible for approving a each of these program. Graduates of CODA approved programs are eligible to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) by successfully passing an exam administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

Certified vs. Registered

The acronyms may be hard to follow. More simply put: certification requires an exam, and the exam is only available to graduates of accredited programs.

An exception is made for individuals who have 2 years of full-time or 4 years of part-time experience in the field. Yet, you can expedite your career, credibility and ease of entry into the field by taking the proper steps to certification.

The standardized exam for CDA status is administered by the DANB and is recognized in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

This national body develops and administers qualifying exams for certification as a CDA and in other specialized areas (e.g. Certificate of Competency in Radiation Health and Safety).

They can also gain Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) status, a state issued credential. Some states only require registration if a he or she wants to perform advanced duties such as taking x-rays.

A RDA obtains this title by registering through the State Board of Dental Examiners (SBDE). Examination is administered by the state in which the individual practices.

Each state has different requirements for this title. Since state regulations determine the full functionality of a dental assistant, contact the State Board of Dental Examiners in the state in which you plan to practice.

Further, visit the DANB website for additional information.

If you seek the credentials that give the flexibility of practice and a professional edge, attend a school approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). That way you can gain CDA certification, a title recognized in most states.

With the appropriate certification, you can present yourself as a competent and credentialed employee ready for work in the field.

Begin your search for a CODA approved school or program today!

Job Prospects

The job forecast is extremely promising – the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 25 percent increase in dentist assistant jobs by 2022 – this is one of the fastest growing occupation in the nation!

Don’t let the field continue to expand without being a part of it. You can begin a rewarding career supporting dental health, and do so in as little as one year. Now is your chance. Enroll in the best program for you, today. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Dental Assistant Schools: Which is right for you?

Are you looking for Dental Assistant Schools? According to the updates put out from the National Dental Assistant’s Board, Inc. for 2012, 76% of the United States already have passed laws requiring licensing to become a dentist assistant.

dental assistant school

Doing the math, 3 out of 4 states have, by now, already established that certification or licensing is important enough to be a bottom-line requirement; those working in such a specialized field should come from dental assisting schools.

It would be logical to presume that even more states will soon be requiring training from dental assisting programs. Usually such trends do not move in a backward direction, especially when involving education or governmental regulations. It is very likely that that 76% percent will be closer to 100% in the near future.

Recall that even though there are a few states that do not have strict requirements that must be met through taking these kinds of courses, it does not mean that the dentists practicing within those states do not personally require it to be in their employ; it only means there is not a law in place yet to make their preferences a legality.

Necessity of Dental Assistant School

From state to state, more and more dentists have realized how much easier new employee transitions flow when one has come from a dental assisting school.

Common sense can tell us, too, that a professional who put in as many years as one has to become a dentist, he or she would reasonably respect, or even demand, that those acting as their right arm have a the right education.

Also, the education that dentists are requiring of their assistants is a fraction of the time they have devoted to their expertise. Wanting educated personnel by their side is an understandable stipulation.

Experienced Assistants Want Minimum Requirements

Those who have attended specialized schools are some of the biggest advocates for laws that require new assistants to have proper training, licensing, or certifications, so the dentist are not alone in that want.

Knowing that there needs to be so much consideration given to controlling infectious diseases, or the foresight needed in competent chair side assisting, it is no wonder that professionals are giving rapt attention to the advocating of accredited education.

dental assistant schools

An experienced, educated employee knows the time and effort it has taken to hone his or her skills, and it is logical that they would not be pleased to have to train a coworker from scratch.

It is also worthy of consideration that those coming from schools are more qualified for advancement, perhaps even moving into management positions, and they might be actively involved in the hiring process; another good reason to look up the right program to attend.

The seasoned employees in busy dentist offices are aware of the fact that ones coming in who have not been to dental assisting schools are not going to be able to share in some of the tasks that are needed to be done; not for awhile anyway, and for more specialized duties, maybe never.

When they receive “on the job training” we can imagine who does most of the training. It is likely that the experienced, educated employees have to make time in their schedules to do so.

If dentists were to bring in a new assistant, untrained, the senior employees would be well aware of the fact that this new person on the scene is likely going to take up more of their time in the beginning, and for awhile to come. It could be weeks or months before the new assistant is actually bringing relief to the other assistants’ workload.

There we see another good reason why dentist assistants who made the effort to go to a school might campaign for hiring people with more education.

Over 200 Accredited Schools

Twenty years ago, one may have had a burning desire to break into the field of dental assisting but could not work out the logistics of accomplishing an education to jump-start their career.

The changing times and advancement in technologies have drastically revolutionized education, and very thankfully so! The opportunities at our fingertips, both literally and metaphorically are truly amazing, especially with over 200 accredited schools to choose from.

Being accredited means that the school has been officially recognized for it’s academic excellence, so it is an educational institution that has met certain criteria to come highly recommended.

Many colleges also offer fantastic education although they are not specifically touted as schools for dentist assitants. The choices available to you are phenomenal right now for an education in this field.

Here is an eye-opener for those thinking of trying to find their own way into the dental assisting world without proper education: The DANB (Dental Assistant National Board), who can be likened to the Bar Association of dental assistants, (meaning, you have to pass the board’s tests through them) requires a full two years of on the job experience before being able to earn a certification, without prior education.

That speaks volumes of the length of time it would take to become proficient in an assisting position without suitable, previous training and education. Why not just get educated?

For a certainty, your options are vast for obtaining the education you need. Whether you choose one of the dental assistant schools that is online or one where you can attend classroom learning, they have both been simplified for the busiest people.

Often, in the times we live in, we hear of people around us obtaining degrees with little or no recollection of even knowing they were in school. Ask them. It is that easy for one who is willing to make minor adjustments.

Levels of Education

There are scores of options available to you. The stars that you shoot for is completely up to you. There are fast-track courses to certification or you may be one deciding to become licensed. Some schools offer programs where you can become registered.

A registered dentist’s assistant is able to perform more complex tasks that simply aren’t legal to be performed by those with a lesser education. You might think of comparing this to the difference between an LPN and an RN.

This illustrates how the higher education will likely bring more versatility into your work experience and the increased likelihood of a higher salary.

It is exciting to note that there are yet a couple more licensed assistant options for those eager to begin their education. One of these is to become an Expanded Duties dental assistant.

Once the dentist has done the preliminary work of the removal of decay, this assistant is qualified to work on the restoration process with the patient. This includes tasks that could not be done by an untrained or even a certified dentist’s assistant.

You can be a registered dental nurse if you are one truly unafraid to aim for the specialized career moves. In some countries, including areas of the United States, registered dental nurses may able to find themselves in the position to perform teeth whitening, instead of the dentist, yet it is still in a controversial, rather gray area – but that fact alone can bring to mind the power now given to nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants’.

Find the Right School Now

The fact is, we are in a fast-paced, ever-changing world and it is our decision to either keep up with it by taking advantage of all of the unparalleled opportunities or become the person that spends years starting sentences with “if only” as life passes by.

You cannot be one satisfied with the “if only” tape playing or you would not be reading this. Your wanting must already be in place, so with a little bit of action you will be on your way – today is the day to find the dental assisting college that is best for you.

Right now, this is the time. You are the consumer, you have the power and the choice is all yours; you hold your future, right there in your hands, where it belongs and where it should always be. It is exhilarating and full of very uncomplicated options. You have every reason to believe it is in your reach, and you don’t even have to reach that hard.

Get matched up to the right dental assistant schools for you, choose the particular program precisely for you, whether you want to do it from your home or on campus, pick the schedule that fits around other very important people and endeavors in your life, and in a very short time you will be the one experiencing that fantastic feeling, that awesome knowing of “I did it! I did it!”

Dental Assistant Jobs

What an exciting time it is for those giving thought to becoming a dentist assistant – throughout the last several decades it has frequently become known that different professions have boomed at certain periods.

dental assistant jobs

You may recall when word was out that schoolteachers were needed, or x-ray technicians, massage therapists or nurses. It doesn’t take a historian to know that employment surges take place in certain fields from time to time. Wise ones have literally cashed in on such knowledge.

Being aware of growth spurts has enabled many people to realize their niche simply by the attractive offer of reasonably certain employment. That sounds like a win-win. If one is contemplating change; examining the opportunities and weighing the pros and cons, then attention given to statistics on job availability or projections would certainly belong at the very top of the list of considerations.

Astounding News

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and its Occupational Outlook Handbook ( it is projected that between the years of 2012 to 2022 a whopping 25% increase will take place in dental assisting jobs. This is a tremendously valuable piece of information to have right now because we could very likely be entering into the peak period of that phenomenal leap!

For a person looking for a career change, who likes a lot of variety in their work, both a challenging and gratifying atmosphere, flexibility and making a very respectable income, it is an inspiring time to be in. Ones who choose to seek out dental assistant jobs are in for many rewards that will pay out for a long time to come, through job availability, benefits and a diversity of schedules. (There are many positions available for those seeking both full and part-time positions.)

First Things First

Assuming that you will be among those opting to get ample education and training, of course, that would be the first step. Once that is done, or even nearly done, it’s time to lay your plan for your first dentist assistant job, which starts with your resume and your cover letter.

While resumes focus on your job history specifically, it would behoove you to submit a cover letter with your resume. Cover letters have become, not just an accepted part of the application process, but also a customary part, and it serves as an excellent avenue to convey details about yourself that are not traditional as a part of the formal resume.

Your Dental Assistant Resume

dental assistant resume

(to download an example dental assistant resume, click here)

Obviously, you will want to build a good resume, and truthfully, there are many acceptable formats to choose from. There is an example resume provided for you on this page to view and consider. Strive to be thorough, honest, and as exact as possible; the more open you are about job history facts, the better your chances will be for getting an interview.

What that means is that you want potential employers to have ease in finding you and you don’t want them to ever feel that you are trying to withhold any information. Give them the pertinent information you know that they will want so that they can feel comfortable pursuing you for their dentist assistant jobs.

So when you build your resume, begin in the upper left hand corner with your name, the next line your street address, right below that your city, state and zip code. A line for your email address and then a line for your telephone number should immediately follow.

A space needs to go in between that information and the first line of your job history. Whether or not to use an Objective” statement is a controversial; they know you are seeking employment with them, and objective can be covered in the cover letter. You make that call.

Your job history should start with your most current (or present job, if you are employed) and progressively go back in time, so to speak. Some opinions vary on how far back one should go, but it is generally considered smart to shoot for a one-page resume with a size 12 font when possible.

According to your personal circumstances you may need to use a second page and if that’s the case, there is no need to worry; there is no hard and fast rule on that, it’s just that simplicity is often the preference for busy employers.

Once you have listed the name of the most present company and the your start and end date (which is generally sufficient to do month and year, like 10/2007), the next line should be the company’s name, address and phone number.

That should be followed the name the person you personally answered to, so whether it was the owner, boss or a supervisor, name them in that line. Not everybody has a supervisor so it could be the owner. Give the true information. A dentist assistant’s resume needs to fit all of the same criteria as any resume.

Your Dental Assistant Cover Letter

dental assistant cover letter

(to download an example dental assistant cover letter, click here)

The dentist assistant cover letter is your opportunity to reveal valuable information that enables you to show your enthusiasm about having a job with this dentist, to tout your education, training and readiness. Utilized correctly, it is also the chance to add in some humanness to go along with the formal resume; to give them a glimpse into who you are.

But first, what should a cover letter contain?

As with the resume, an example cover letter is provided on this page. The upper left hand corner should display all of your contact information: name, address, email address and phone number. After that, you write a greeting; after all, it is a letter.

Most feel the safest with “To Whom It May Concern” but if somebody has been listed in the job posting to contact, by all means, speak directly to that person. In such case it would be appropriate to write “To Office Coordinator Sheila Smith” or even, “Dear Sheila Smith” is okay. Whichever one you decide on, all words in the greeting should be capitalized because in this case, it is being used as a title.

Introduce Yourself

Write your letter about you. You may start with “My name is Susie Wilson…” or you can go directly to the first line of business, which is telling them how you know of them or their opening. It is simply a piece of information they appreciate having. If they have somebody employed there that you believe is in great standing, and that person told you of the position, that’s a good thing.

So you may say, “Your receptionist, Mary Martin told me of your opening.” If it was an agency, tell them that -they want to know what is working well for them.

If you opted to leave off the objective statement from the resume here is where you go into that, and if you included one, here is where you elaborate.

Notice the second paragraph that begins with the word Dentistry: it let’s the employer know more than that you want to be part of a great, growing company where there is room for advancement. (Everybody wants that.)

It tells your potential employer how eager you are to work with them specifically.

Think about if you were an employer and somebody wrote, “I’m interested in your positions as a dentist’s assistant.” Now think about if you read the next cover letter that said, “It is my understanding that you offer a great work environment for dental assistants” or “your opening sounds like one that would bring me the sort of challenges that my training as a dental assistant has prepared me for.”

If 300 resumes are received for one opening, you need to stand out. Shine! You could say, “I am searching employment with a practice that is reputable in the community, such as yours.”

Now Brag!

Yes, that’s right: You have permission to brag. You may not get another chance, and it’s easier for most people to do it in writing other than in face-to-face conversations. You could even forget to say some things you mean to say in an interview, so don’t pass up this chance.

Tell them about all of the awesome education and training you have received. Tell them the college you attended, when you graduated and don’t hesitate to tell your GPA or any other special achievements to make them choose you. Be sure to tell them the degree or certification you received and mention how eager you are to start practicing your new skills in this new job.

In the final paragraph let them know what you intend to do to follow up with them. Notice the example in the cover letter where the applicant mentions stopping by to introduce his or herself. If you are working with an employment agency you could tell them that you will keep close contact with your agent regarding the position.

If you are applying via email you may want to tell them that you will check back with them periodically. Whatever you say you are going to do, do it! Stay consistent, show them that you will keep your word.

Haven’t Started With Classes Yet?

If you have not yet obtained the education or training to bring you such confidence in applying for these jobs, don’t spend a minute in despair! Choose to use that energy to get started today by requesting more information from a nearby school.

Whether it is training, a certification, or a degree that feels best for you, there are many fantastic colleges with experts to guide you in how to take advantage of the program that is your perfect fit – don’t put it off, get started now.

Dental Assistant Salary: How much can you make?

So, what is a reasonable dental assistant salary? How much better can it get than when we have found that job that truly makes us feel valued? It is all too well known that people spend year after year in positions that lack feelings of challenge or triumph, let alone appreciation or even mere gratitude.

dental assistant salary

Dental Assistant Salary

For one reason or another employees don’t feel that they can make a break from their current situations. But for individuals who have found an occupation that provides satisfaction on many different levels, how much better can it get? The answer is that it gets better by getting paid well.

It is clear that the career of dental assisting can liberally provide a daily feeling of contentment through the performance of numerous activities that truly touch other’s lives, but the next logical question is, “How much do dentist assistants make?”

Few of we humans have felt the calling to a career that cannot lead us to a cozy home with a comfortable place to lay our head at night so the dental assistant’s salary is certainly relevant and worthy of discussion.

Variations in Salaries

As with any occupation, there is quite a broad range in the amount of pay that you can expect. So many factors are involved, such as the size of the city or town the dental practice is in or how many dentists are in the office where you want to work.

Another consideration is if the dental practice is a very new one, in its early growth period, or a long established business that is largely made up of loyal patients of many years. A newer establishment may not yet be in the position to pay as well as one where the dentist has had many of the same faithful patients and their families for twenty-plus years and more.

Of course, there are choices to be made that will greatly influence the likelihood of getting the dental assistant salary that one is shooting for, such as preparedness. Although it is true that from state to state educational standards may vary, and there is even a slim chance of finding on the job training, there are significant realities to be aware of.

For instance; it is likely that the ones least skilled through academic training are the ones making up the lions share of the lower than average side of the these salaries.

Looking At The Numbers

The United States Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports their figures on the dental assistant salary here.

(This has not yet been addressed, but please don’t confuse the data with that of a dental hygienist, which is not the same as a dental assistant.)

dental assistant hourly pay

Occupational Employment and Wages reports that as of May 2013 the average salary was $17.13 per hour, and the average salary for a year is $35,640. In doing the math, that is based on a 40-hour workweek.

Statistics show how location may influence, but not necessarily dictate, the salary for this job. This is seen by the information given for various areas of the country.

The top paying states and their average annual salaries are New Hampshire ($43,810), Alaska ($43,330), Minnesota ($42,900), Massachusetts ($41,910), and Connecticut ($40,730).

That also translates into $19.58 to $21.06 per hour – keeping in mind that these are the averages, we are reminded that when we ask how can you make, some are making less and many are making more than these median figures provided.

There also statistics available regarding major Metropolitan Divisions. From these numbers we can see further variance in how location may affect a dental assistant salary.

Some that show averages above the national mean are Manchester, NH; San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA; Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, MA-NH; Anchorage, AK; Worcester, MA-CT; Rochester, MN; Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH; Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA; Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI; Nashua, NH-MA.

Salary, State By State

You have likely made up your mind by now that dental assisting is your career choice and looking at pay rate will help reinforce that decision.

State by state the salary can vary – it may even fluctuate from one metropolitan area to another – regardless of where you are the numbers are encouraging.

In all probability, being intelligent and well aware of contrasting statistics on just about any subject, you will want to make your own reasonable assessment of what to expect regarding your dental assistant salary.

average dental assistant salary - top 10 states

For your consideration, below is a list of state-to-state dental assisting salary averages:

  • Alabama (AL): $54,000
  • Alaska (AK): $42,100
  • Arizona (AZ): $45,000
  • Arkansas (AR): $51,000
  • California (CA): $55,000
  • Colorado (CO): $45,000
  • Connecticut (CT): $54,000
  • Delaware (DE): $49,000
  • Florida (FL): $49,000
  • Georgia (GA): $54,000
  • Hawaii (HI): $39,000
  • Idaho (ID): $45,000
  • Illinois (IL): $54,000
  • Indiana (IN): $53,000
  • Iowa (IA): $48,000
  • Kansas (KS): $45,000
  • Kentucky (KY): $48,000
  • Louisiana (LA): $51,000
  • Maine (ME): $49,000
  • Maryland (MD): $52,000
  • Massachusetts (MA): $51,000
  • Michigan (MI): $47,000
  • Minnesota (MN): $48,000
  • Mississippi (MS): $63,000
  • Missouri (MO): $51,000
  • Montana (MT): $50,000
  • Nebraska (NE): $43,000
  • Nevada (NV): $48,000
  • New Hampshire (NH): $53,000
  • New Jersey (NJ): $54,000
  • New Mexico (NM): $45,000
  • New York (NY): $60,000
  • North Carolina (NC): $49,000
  • North Dakota (ND): $49,000
  • Ohio (OH): $48,000
  • Oklahoma (OK): $46,000
  • Oregon (OR): $48,000
  • Pennsylvania (PA): $45,000
  • Rhode Island (RI): $54,000
  • South Carolina (SC): $46,000
  • South Dakota (SD): $43,000
  • Tennessee (TN): $48,000
  • Texas (TX): $48,000
  • Utah (UT): $48,000
  • Vermont (VT): $52,000
  • Virginia (VA): $52,000
  • Washington (WA): $47,000
  • West Virginia (WV): $52,000
  • Wisconsin (WI): $42,000
  • Wyoming (WY): $55,000
  • D.C.: $58,000
  • Puerto Rico (PR): $37,000
  • Guam (GU): $47,000
  • American Samoa (AS): $41,000
  • U.S. Virgin Islands (VI): $61,000
  • Mariana Islands (MP): $51,000

(these averages were sourced from:

With only nominal contrasts in this list of average salaries state-to-state, it is easy enough to see that the news is, at the least, very hopeful – getting into a dental assisting school right away means that you could be on your way to making a good salary.

Being in a field that is proving statistically to be rapidly growing calls for speedy action; if it continues at the rate that has been projected it will not be long before you can advance as the newer ones come in behind you.

Dental assistant salaries are so favorable right now because dental assisting is in high demand. It can be somebody else’s dream-come-true or it can be yours – jump in and start the process today.

How Much Do You Want To Make?

Successful and high-achieving people are seldom where they are because luck just happened to strike them on the head. We all make scores of choices every day of our lives. Some choices do not take us to higher places and many of our choices can and do.

The ones getting paid what they want rarely just fall into those positions by accident any more. Competition is tough and action is required when reaching for advancement and success.

For those who want more than they might just stumble across, there are decisions to be made, goals to be set, goals to be met, some adjustments to be made, positive attitudes to maintain, and largely, a commitment to staying pointed in the right direction.

So, we really do need to ask ourselves how much we want to make and then plot the course of action required to make that happen. Doesn’t that sound like a walk in the park; a piece of cake? No, not really. But is it possible, achievable, doable, promising, feasible, practical or realistic?

Of course it is. So, in contemplating a career in dental assisting there is another star to reach for if you really want an excellent chance of hiking that salary up even further. Consider becoming a registered dental assistant (RDA).

A Registered Dental Assistant Salary

To find statistics for an RDA salary one has to keep searching, and that is because those official salary statistics given above are not differentiating between the trained or untrained dentist assistant, experienced or inexperienced, and certainly not between those with a high school diploma or a RDA.

Whether or not RDAs are even included in that group of statistics is unclear. A bit more information and some common sense can help us see how it is reasonable to believe that being registered would bring about better options and a higher salary.

The Opportunities Leading to Higher Salaries

The benefits of one choosing to be an RDA are many and it is easy to see how it opens up more opportunities that can lead to higher paying jobs.

Registered dental assistants are able to obtain positions in forms of more specialized dentistry like orthodontic or oral surgery offices. There are many other advantages of being registered, as well as the larger range of procedures one would be qualified to participate in or perform.

RDAs have a better chance of getting hired in more specialized forms of dentistry such as orthodontics or oral surgery offices. Hospitals and clinics needing assistants will almost certainly seek out those who are registered. Governmental dental institutions hire registered dental assistants and they are qualified for an array of specialized laboratory positions as well.

The chance for promotion is greater in any of these facilities and with the higher education comes the enhanced likelihood of moving into management or administrative positions that could bring much higher pay.

Thinking Big

There is a quotation that has been growing in popularity that deserves the attention of those striving for additional income or any sort of higher accomplishments, in any aspect of our lives. It comes from the infamous Donald Trump, a man who is not always everybody’s favorite person in the world, but a man who has proven over and over to possess some business savvy at the very least.

He is also practiced in achievement, evidenced by his wealth. The quotation is one hard to argue with and one in which it is easy to see the common sense: If you are going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.

Where else is it a better idea to think big than in our career endeavors, where the rewards can be vast and immeasurable? And if we are going to be thinking about careers or career enhancement, then we might very well be considering additional education. It is nearly effortless to find and more graceful to realize than it ever has been at any time.

So, if you are going to be thinking about a career in dental assisting, you might consider thinking a bit bigger and earning your registration. Bigger thinking may just lead you to a broader range of reasons to love your job and bigger salaries along the way. Keep progressing and expect that your salary will grow with you.