Dental Assistant Salary

Dental Assistant SalaryWorking behind the scenes of any successful dentist is a committed team of dental assistants. Not only shouldering the lion’s share of administrative tasks, dental assistants carry out a myriad of other duties to ensure dental appointments run as smoothly as possible. With job opportunities expected to explode in the coming decade, now’s a perfect time to enter the profession. Wondering how much a dentist assistant makes? Read ahead, as we describe a typical dentist assistant’s salary and more.

Dental Assistant Salary

What is the salary of a dental assistant? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), on average dental assistants make $36,260 annually, or $17.43 per hour. The top 10% earn $49,540 per annum, whilst the lowest 10% of earners take home $24,580 every year. Those new into the field can expect salaries around $24,580.

A number of factors influence annual income. Salaries increase proportionally to job experience, growing roughly 10% for every 10 years on the job . Earnings are also impacted by employment location; the 5 highest paying states for dental assistants are New Hampshire, Alaska, Minnesota, Massachusetts and North Dakota. Income varies depending on sector of employment.

In general, benefit packages are offered exclusively to full time employees. Additionally, most dentists reimburse continuing education courses taken by their assistants.

Job Description

Dental assistants carry out most of the administrative tasks in dental surgeries, allowing dentists to devote their time to performing complex medical procedures on patients. Their main tasks involve preparing patients and the work area for treatment. This includes sterilising equipment, positioning dental instruments where dentists can easily access them, as well as comforting patients. They also instruct patients on oral health; discussing diet, teeth brushing routines and dental hygiene products.

A critical component of their job is managing and organising the dental office. Assistants will schedule patient appointments, keep track of medical records, send out bills and payments, as well as carrying out stock inventories.

Although complex operations are performed by dentists, assistants often carry out basic procedures on patients. Treatments which assistants carry out are; coronal polishing which involves removing plaque from teeth, applying sealants or fluoride to prevent cavities, and administering topical anesthetics which temporarily numb areas of the mouth. In order to carry out these procedures, assistants often need state certification.

Work Environment

The vast majority of dental assistants work in clinics or hospitals. Their time is divided between helping dentists with patients, and completing administrative tasks at a desk. All work settings are clean, well-lit ventilated areas, though many treatment rooms are small and narrow. When working with patients, assistants are often required to wear protective clothing such as surgical masks, gloves and safety glasses to prevent infections spreading. Protective layers must also be worn when using X-ray machines.

Most dental assistants work full time. Almost half have workweeks between 35 and 40 hours long. A third worked part time in 2012, working variable hours throughout the week. Some clinics are open around the clock, so assistants may work night shifts or during weekends. Those working part-time may hold multiple jobs at different clinics to bolster their income.

The profession is dominated by women. Only 4% of dental assistants are men. The career boasts high job satisfaction, receiving 5/5 from a survey of 1548 professionals (PayScale), which is attributed to the joy gained from helping patients.

How to become a Dental Assistant

Job requirements vary depending on state. Some states require that you graduate from an accredited Dental Assistant program, before proving your competency by passing a state exam. Numerous community colleges offer 1-2 year programs. Curriculums consist of both classroom and laboratory work, with students studying courses of oral anatomy, radiography, nutrition and clinical procedures. Programs also involve supervised work experience in dental clinics or hospitals.

Alternatively, entry into the profession is possible with no formal education. Dentists often recruit trainees and teach them skills on-the-job.

Certification requirements also differ with employment location. To perform dental procedures on patients, such as injecting local anesthetic, most states require that assistants pass relevant examinations. Certification is obtained by passing the Certified Dental Assistant exam, which is offered by the Dental Assisting National Board. Prior to sitting the test, candidates must have graduated from an accredited program or have a high school diploma, as well as completed work experience and have a certificate in CPR.

Career Outlook

Employment opportunities for dental assistants are booming. The profession is one of the fastest growing careers in the 2012-2022 projection period, with BLS predicting a 25% increase in jobs. A growing population, increasing awareness of oral hygiene and emerging links between dental health and general well-being are all fueling demand. Furthermore, dentists are hiring more assistants to handle administrative tasks, allowing them to increase the total number of patients they can treat.

As with all professionals employed in the medical industry, the job market is particularly sensitive to changes in government issued health care policies. Increases in medical funding make dental visits more affordable, resulting in a greater number of people taking advantage of dental services and consequently there’s greater demand for dentists and dental assistants alike.

Related Careers

Dentists provide dental care to the general public. They examine teeth, gums or mouth tissue and diagnose dental conditions. They use a wide variety of tools to perform operations, such as filling in cavities, removing teeth or applying sealants. Almost all of their work is done in dental clinics or hospitals. Dentists collaborate and co-ordinate with other medical professionals, as well as directly supervising dental assistants. Becoming a dentist involves graduating from highly competitive dental schools. The average salary of dentists in 2012 was $145,240 (BLS). Dentists can specialise in a number of fields such as orthodontics or dental medicine.

Nurses are responsible for the care of patients. They work in a number of settings; hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, military bases or private clinics. Typical tasks include administering drugs, monitoring patient conditions, as well as providing emotional support for patients and their family. Beginning a career as a nurse usually requires attaining a 2-3 year Associate’s degree in nursing, which is offered by many community colleges. Registered nurses had an average salary of $68,910 per annum in 2012 according to BLS.

Leave a Comment