Are you looking into a healthcare career as a dental assistant? Would you like to have a more stable career, a better work environment, and more job security? The field of dental assisting is flourishing and the demand for quality health care is on the rise. Becoming a dental assistant is a very popular career choice these days. The employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 19 percent by 2026 due to so many advancements in the field of dentistry and an increased demand for preventive dental services. The requirements and specific jobs vary from state to state. Here are the basics you need to know to become a dental assistant and have a successful career.

The Role of a Dental Assistant

At this point, if you are looking into a career as a dental assistant, it might help to understand the exact role. They perform many tasks which require interpersonal and technical skills. Dental assistants must have great attention to detail to work under the supervision of dentists to perform procedures and ensure the office runs smoothly. Not only do they support the dentists during procedures, they also prepare the work area, handle tools, perform procedural tasks, and sterilize tools.

In some states that will allow it, dental assistants perform advanced duties such as applying temporary dental crowns, making impressions, or processing x-rays. They can also take care of office tasks such as scheduling, billing, and record keeping. Although the role of a dental assistant varies from practice to practice, general jobs you can expect to perform are scheduling appointments, preparing patients for treatments, taking blood pressure and pulse, providing patients with information and oral hygiene supplies, sterilizing the equipment, developing x-rays, teaching patients, and assisting the dentist during procedures.

Dental Assistant Job Settings

Since many dentists employ several dental assistants to serve as nurses and they are in high demand, there are a variety of practice settings where dental assistants are needed. Private dental practices, oral surgery, orthodontics, and dental facial orthopedics, schools, clinics, public health sites, hospital dental clinics, and dental school clinics all need dental assistants.

Salary and Other Facts

If you are trying to make a career decision about becoming a dental assistant, you should learn more about what to expect as far as salary and job flexibility. Dental assistants typically work full-time positions with some part-time positions being available. The average pay per hour for a dental assistant is $16.96. Visit PayScale to look at hourly pay by location, skill, employer, etc.

Getting a High School Diploma/Your State’s Requirements for Dental Assistants

Your dental assistant education background is an important step in the right direction to pursuing this career path. Subjects like chemistry, biology, anatomy, health sciences, and office administration can increase your chances of becoming employed by a dental office. Working as a volunteer or an internship can also increase your skills and look good on your resume.

Some states do not require any more training or education beyond a high school diploma. Others require candidates to have a certification from an accredited program. It is important to recognize potential employers who want to see the highest levels of qualifications from job candidates. Do an online search for your state of residence to get the correct information about dental assisting, dental assistant registration, and state-specific requirements.

Get State Certification or Complete Licensing Requirements

Your state may not mandate a certification. But you could still benefit by having a competitive edge over the competition for job opportunities. Dental Assistant Programs must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), in your state. Depending upon whether you want a certificate, diploma, or associate degree, these programs take one to two years to complete. For more information, you may contact your state dental board. You can also visit the Dental Assistant National Board’s website Certification and Licensure Requirements.

The most basic requirements are to graduate from an accredited program, or in states with no program completion requirement, earn your high school diploma or equivalent. You must also have current CPR training. You might also choose to complete the National Entry Level Dental Assistant Test administered by the DANB.


To obtain training opportunities and gain experience to improve your resume, you might volunteer for an externship. In order to work in specialized areas of dentistry, opt for pediatric or orthodontic care, for instance, during your externship. Some dental assistant positions require a year or more of experience. So this time, investment may help you to acquire an entry-level job quicker.

Apply for Dental Assistant Position/Advance Your Career

Read over the job posting carefully and make sure you meet the requirements for the position. In certain instances, you may count the time invested in a certification program or supervised training and externship as experience. After practicing as a dental assistant, you may want to become a dental hygienist or dentist. You will need to obtain an advanced degree and the experience you have received as a dental assistant will give you a real-life view of dentistry. You may be able to transfer credits from an associate degree to a bachelor’s degree program.

Dental assistants who are skilled and compassionate are in high demand. Get all the information you need for pursuing your career in dental assisting at SPS Dental Academy. They work hard to help you achieve your unique career goals in the field of dentistry.