Dental Assistant Career Overview, Salaries, Training required & Job Opportunites
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Dental Assistant

colleges offer programs related to this career near San Jose, CA

Career Overview

Do you remember your last dentist visit? Having your teeth cleaned left your teeth feeling wonderful, didn't it? The person who cleaned your teeth or assisted the dentist while he did was a dental assistant. These professionals work alongside the dentist to make sure your visit goes smoothly.Dental assistants work with patients to help make them comfortable and to prepare them for treatments and procedures, instruct them on proper dental hygiene, schedule their appointments, and work with them on billing and payment. They also sterilize dental instruments, process x-rays and complete lab tasks, and help dentists by handing them instruments during procedures.The work of a dental assistant is important because many dentists have so many patients that it is simply impossible for them to tend to them all on their own. With the help of a dental assistant, each patient's visit goes smoothly, and the dentist is able to focus on the patient properly, because they do not have to worry about setting up his work area or running around to make their appointments.

Salaries and Job Outlook*

2013 Median Annual Pay
Number of Jobs in 2013
Projected Growth Rate
19.5 %

Education and Training

Degrees Required:
High School Diploma required Diploma or Certificate in Dental Assisting preferred

Minimum high school diploma required. However, a certificate or diploma in dental assisting increases employment opportunities. Most programs are offered by community colleges, take about 1 year to complete, and lead to a certificate or diploma. There are also two-year associate degree programs offered at community colleges.These accredited programs include classroom and laboratory work in which you learn about teeth, gums, jaws, and the instruments that dentists use. These programs also include supervised, practical experience so that you're prepared for your career assisting dentists.

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Valued Traits & Abilities

Detail Oriented
Communication Skills
Decision-Making Skills

Work Environment

This job does not require travel as dental assistants report to work at a private dental office. Dental assistants communicate with the doctor they assist, fellow dental assistants, and patients. Most dental assistants work full time, and some work evenings or weekends, depending on the office where they work.

* Source: BLS Data - 2013