A dental assistant is one who works as an assistant to a dentist or a dental hygienist in various surgical procedures, and also deals with maintaining dental records, patient history, besides other things. Dental assistants are key members of a dental clinic, as they assist the dental surgeon to provide effective service to the patients.
Today, many young career aspirants are looking forward to a career as a dental assistant. This is because the career opportunities in such medical jobs are likely to increase all throughout the current decade, with many healthcare organizations, dental clinics, insurance companies, and armed forces recruiting people with dental assistance skills and qualifications. Apart from this, the salary range of a dental assistant is also quite decent. Let us find out more about the dental assistant duties, educational requirements, certifications, and most importantly, the average dental assistant salary that one can expect.
Here we come to the main focus of our discussion! Actually, the dental assistant salary range depends upon the size of the organization and the range of duties to be performed. ‘On-job’ training, experience, knowledge, manual dexterity, size and location of the health care facility, and number of working hours are also considered to be vital factors that decide the salary range.
▸ On an average, a dental assistant gets paid around $35,390, and is also liable to receive employment benefits on getting confirmed on the job.
▸ With median annual salaries around $40,000, specialty hospitals and insurance carriers are the top-paying industries for this occupation.
▸ Those working for state and federal governments also make around $40,000 annually.
▸ California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois are the states with the highest employment level in this occupation.
▸ Top-paying states for this occupation are New Hampshire ($44,580), Alaska ($43,550), Minnesota ($43,160), Massachusetts ($41,590), and North Dakota ($40,990).
*Source: BLS May 2014.
▸ The salary figures for entry-level dental assistants can be in the range of US $20,593 – $36,435.
▸ For experienced candidates, the salary can be in the range of $28,288 – $47,359.
▸ Experienced dental assistants can progress to a ‘registered dental hygienist’ role, and can earn around $67K annually.
*Source: PayScale, June 2015.
Dental Assistant Salary According to Location
New Hampshire $58,000
New Jersey $63,000
New Mexico $51,000
New York $71,000
North Carolina $56,000
North Dakota $52,000
Rhode Island $53,000
South Carolina $58,000
South Dakota $44,000
West Virginia $55,000
*Source: Indeed as of June 2015.
The educational requirements to become a dental assistant are not too much. After completing high school with subjects such as biology, algebra, geometry, English, dental assistance, computers etc., you can move on to a college that imparts training on dental assistance studies. See that the college is accredited by the Commission of Dental Accreditation, and then pursue a 1 – 2 year course on dental assistance. Further, you could be able to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), on completing the examination conducted by the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. With all these educational qualifications, your chances to be preferred and recruited by a renowned dental health care organization would definitely increase.
Dental Assistant Job Description
As said earlier, dental assistants are key members of any dental health care organization. The reason behind this is the wide range of duties that they need to perform under the supervision of the dentist. All such tasks and activities of a dental assistant are described here:
▸ The first and foremost duty of a dental assistant is to assist the dentist in dental operations, and also guide the patients in maintaining dental health.
▸ Prepare oral health plans under the supervision of the dentist to render effective dental care services to the patients.
▸ Maintaining medical records related to dental problems, preserving dental history of each and every patient, and producing them whenever required, are part of the dental assistant’s job.
▸ Preparing and taking care of all the dental instruments and supplies for surgeries such as dental implants and laser tooth whitening.
▸ Polishing and cleaning the teeth by removing soft deposits and tarnishes.
▸ Helping the dentist in developing dental X-rays, and preparing dental material such as composite, amalgam, impression material, and cement.
▸ Assisting the dentist in organizing, controlling, and managing the dental inventory.
▸ Removing surgical sutures, orthodontic ligature ties, also form an important part of the dental assistant’s job description.
▸ Taking out the excessive cement from the orthodontic bands and fabricated restorations.
▸ Applying the topical fluoride treatments, pit, and fissure sealants.
▸ Managing and arranging patient appointments with the dentist, calculating, and receiving bills from the patients.
Now you have a clearer idea of the dental assistant salary range, job description, and the educational requirements of the same. As a matter of fact, however qualified you might be, do not expect health care organizations to pay a lot at the beginning of your career. It is only through experience, knowledge, and improved manual skills that you would be able to increase you market value, and quote for a higher pay package in larger organizations.