If you considering a career in dental health, but do not want to make the time, money, and commitment investment of dental school or another specialty, you may be considering dental assistant.
When you’re considering any career, the salary is a consideration. So your first question is likely, how much do dental assistants make?
Typical Dental Assistant Payscale
The average dental assistant salary is $34,140 or $16.41 an hour according to the Bureau of Labor. However, the dental assistant’s salary is highly influenced by location.
For instance, the average salary for a dental assistant in New York is $60,000. But the cost of living is so high in New York that the dental assistant making the average dental assistant salary in Kentucky of $48,000 may in fact live much better since her buying power is significantly higher there.
The dental hygienist does make more money. For example, their average salary is $32.81. However, the assistant may have much less patient contact. Additionally, the dental assistant must only complete a certificate or diploma program, whereas most well-paid hygienists have an associates degree.
Dental Assistant Schooling
Dental assistant programs often take a year or less to complete. At the conclusion of your coursework, you will want to pass a national certification exam to increase your desirability as a candidate—even though it not a requirement to work as a dental assistant. The Certified Dental Assistant Exam is a $300 multiple-choice test.
This 320 item test will certify the dental assistant and evaluate her knowledge is chairside assisting, radiation health and safety, and infection control. The bulk of dental assistants have completed a certification or diploma program, but did not continue on and get a degree. Only 7% of dental assistants have a degree.
License requirements Vary By State
Each state has its own requirements for licensure, which vary widely. So whichever state the dental assistant plans to work in she will need to investigate the steps she needs to take.
Some dental assistants go onto get certifications in specialty assisting, which makes them more marketable and allows them to command a higher salary as well. Those who want to move up in their career participate in ongoing continuing education.
The dental assistant has clerical and clinical tasks during her day. Many choose to take short courses to boost one side or the other of her workday. Running the office effectively is a key part of the dentist assistant salary and many opt to bone up on the technology and systems to help be more efficacious in that arena.
Many dental assistant programs are given through a vocational school, community college, or dental institute. Study at one of these institutions prepares you for a future as a dental assistant, which is a lucrative and rewarding career path.
Many dental assistants report high job satisfaction and approval. With salaries commiserate with experience, credentials, and location, the dental assistant can enjoy helping patients improve their dental health.