If there’s one thing that we learned from the pandemic, it’s that work isn’t everything. People are looking for new opportunities to do work that’s meaningful. They want more flexibility, higher pay, and less stress.
Are you in this position? You should consider becoming a dental assistant. It’s a steady career that pays well. The median pay range is between $40,000 and $50,000, depending on where you work.
A lot of questions come to mind at first. How long does it take to become a dental assistant? How can you find a job? How much does it cost to go to school?
These are all great questions, and you’re in luck because this article has the answers. Keep reading to find out what you need to know about becoming a dental assistant:
A Day in the Life of a Dental Assistant
You should know what a typical day looks like for a dental assistant. You work normal business hours, typically 8 am to 5 pm or 9 am to 6 pm.
Some offices stay open a little later one or two days a week to accommodate patients who can’t get time off from work.
You’d arrive about 30 minutes before the office opens to prepare for the day. You’ll look at the patients, procedures, and make sure that everything is stocked and rooms are prepped.
During the day, you’ll work with patients. Remember that many of them are scared of the dentist. You’ll help them feel a little more at ease.
You’ll inform the dentist that the patient is ready to see them. You’ll assist the dentist with procedures, getting items for them and make notes. The dental assistant cleans the room and preps it for the next patient.
You have the responsibility of cleaning and sterilizing all dental equipment. You could take x-rays as well.
If it’s a slow day, you’ll assist the front office staff. You’ll call patients to confirm appointments and do paperwork. At the end of the day, you might stay a little later to clean.
Reasons to Become a Dental Assistant
There are many reasons to become a dental assistant besides having a steady job with good pay. People who can only work part-time can become dental assistants. They find part-time work in a dentist’s office, which works well for all parties involved.
You don’t have to work in a dentist’s office, either. Many dental assistants work in government services, nursing home facilities, or nonprofits. There are even programs for traveling dental assistants if you prefer to travel.
Qualifications to Become a Dental Assistant
Let’s talk about what it takes to become a certified dental assistant. What is the level of education needed to become a dental assistant? You don’t need to end up with $100,000 in debt because you had to pursue a four-year degree.
A GED or high school diploma is all that’s required to enter a dental assistant program. The program should prepare you for your work and pass a certification exam.
The certification exam requirements vary by state. You’ll need to check with your state to fully understand the qualifications.
How Long Does It Take To Become a Dental Assistant?
It helps to know how long it takes to become a dental assistant. It depends on the certification program that you choose. It also depends on your state’s requirements for dental assistants.
Most complete their education requirements in about a year. They have to pass the certification exam and find a job.
Some programs finish as quickly as nine months, while others take two years. You should expect the entire process to take about 18 months.
How to Find a Dental Assistant Program
Take a moment and think about your career path. Do you want to go on and get a four-year degree? Do you want a fast track to start your career as a dental assistant?
These are important questions to ask because they’ll determine where you go to school. There are two-year community college programs. You’ll end up with an associate degree, which you can transfer to a four-year degree program.
The alternative is to go to a dental assistant program. The class curriculum is similar to a community college program. It’s faster because you don’t have to take language and other courses.
The most important thing to look for in a dental assistant program is that you get the required training. Florida required training in expanded functions, such as x-rays and impressions. You want the most comprehensive training that applies in your state.
Look at the learning opportunities available. Check to see if the program gives you hands-on training and classroom work.
Find out about the class schedule, especially if you plan to work while attending school. You might do best with hybrid learning, where classes are online and in-person.
Ask about the career opportunities after you graduate. Make sure that the program has an excellent placement record for graduates. It’s even better if they have a career center and employee partnerships.
Of course, you want to know the cost to become a dental assistant. The cost varies between programs. Most offer financial aid to help you get started.
Are You Ready to Become a Certified Dental Assistant?
Becoming a dental assistant is a great career choice if you like to work with people and want to work in the healthcare industry. You have the flexibility to travel and work part-time.
How long does it take to become a dental assistant? It depends on the job market and your certification program. Expect it to take between 12-24 months.
It’s not that long before you start your new career. Be sure to click on the Career tab at the top to get more helpful career tips.
*Photos by Jonathan Borba